Antenatal Depression

I’d gotten pregnant with my firstborn son at an age early enough that most people eyed my pregnant belly disapprovingly. I learned that when I made the “I’m pregnant” announcement, they’d return with “I’m sorry.” I wasn’t sorry. How could I be sorry about the new life rolling around inside me?

Ever since I’d delivered my son into a turbulent life, I’d vowed to give him a family; siblings and a proper father. Five years later, I did.

It was the one thing I’d worked for during those five years: the end-goal of having a second baby. While it took much longer than I’d expected, eventually I found myself precisely where I’d wanted to be: knocked up. In a stable house. With a husband who loved me more than anything. I had everything I’d wanted.

And yet, I was miserable.

Day after day, only getting up to hug to toilet and my butt wearing a nice groove into the couch, I was shrouded in gloom and sadness. It had only been five years, but this pregnancy was devastating my body and my mind. My life had gone from being exciting, a new adventure around every corner, to a bleak grey snapshot of who I’d once been. I tried to throw myself into the usual things that made me happy and none of it worked: I spent those nine months as miserable as I’d ever been.

How could I be miserable at a time that I was supposed to be happiest? It didn’t make sense. Maybe I was a bad mother.

It was only after my son was born happy and healthy, like his brother before him, that my mood snapped back into place. The very moment I delivered, I felt a lightness that I hadn’t felt in months. I was happy, ecstatic, and the mother of two healthy little boys. Life was, indeed, good.

It took months for me to understand what had happened to me; months to properly name what had taken over my brain: antenatal depression. I’d been depressed during my pregnancy. It was a relief to finally put my finger on it: I wasn’t a horrible mother! I did the Snoopy Happy Dance around my new baby.

When I got pregnant with my last child – my daughter – antenatal depression again reared it’s ugly head. Only this time I had an arsenal up my sleeve. I knew I wasn’t crazy, I knew these feelings weren’t fact, that they would pass. And they did.

So maybe my final pregnancies wouldn’t appear in the glossy pages of a pregnancy magazine. Maybe I’d never feel like sitting in a field of sunflowers, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, beaming off into the distance as I stroked my belly. Maybe I’d never be able to look back on pregnancy as the “happiest time in my life.”

Luckily, my three children, all healthy and happy, remind me that there’s so much more to life than a happy pregnancy: what comes next.

Becoming pregnant changed my life, and I’d love to hear more about your best or most difficult pregnancy moments. By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an all expenses paid trip to a conference on mothers hosted by the UN Foundation in DC (Jan/Feb 2012), an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs September 19 to October 16, 2011. A random winner will be announced by October 18, 2011.

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