We started trying for a baby back in 2007 and had three miscarriages. Then we had Noah, then Eli, another miscarriage and then Eve.
During my pregnancy with Noah I felt low, tired and anxious all the time. I was not as excited as everyone else around me was. But I just put it down to the miscarriages. It wasn’t until I had Eli and felt exactly the same, if not worse, that I started to think that this is not really the same as other people feel like in pregnancy.
I didn’t really want to talk about the pregnancies and I didn’t want to get excited about them.
I felt none of the things I felt I should feel.
When I was pregnant with Eve, I was kind of expecting my mood to dip. I thought I’d be able to prevent it though but I didn’t really. It was a case of, ‘Here we are again.’I felt really low and just not myself - really different to how I was normally.
I didn’t really want to go out, didn’t want to do anything, didn’t want to see people because I knew I would be asked how I was feeling, and I knew people were expecting me to say that I was fine. But that was not how I felt.
And I felt very tired, every time I sat down I’d just doze off to sleep. I never seemed to feel that glowing period that everybody talks about.
There were a few people I could speak to about it but I found that people would either not know what to say at all or they would say, ‘Oh I absolutely loved being pregnant.’ That’s not really what you want to hear. By the time I’d got to my third pregnancy, I knew who I could speak to. There were some friends who understood and would tell me to hang on in there and that there was an end in sight.
Having struggled with miscarriages I also felt that people were thinking that I should just be grateful that I was having a healthy pregnancy. Quite often people were just completely bemused if I did say I don’t really like being pregnant. They just didn’t know what to say at all.
The first time I raised it with a health professional was with my midwife, when I was pregnant with Eve. I would have been about nine weeks pregnant. They said, ‘That’s fine we’ll just keep an eye on it.’
Around six months in I was feeling quite low and I had a routine appointment. It was a different midwife, but I really plucked up the courage to raise it again. She was really kind and sympathetic. But it was the same old line of ‘Mmm yes, lots of people do feel like that in pregnancy, you’re very tired, you’ve got two older children to run around after’. That was all true, but I felt that my low mood was more than that. And her response was, ‘Well, you can see a doctor and get some antidepressants or we can wait a while and you might feel better in a few weeks’ time’.
I left the appointment feeling very much like I needed to deal with it myself.
Even though she was very sympathetic she said the kind of things that everyone else around me was saying: ‘Take it easy, give yourself a bit of a break.’ I had a four year old and a two year old so the chances of taking it easy were pretty slim. No one was going to come around and cook dinner. I left feeling like I was going to have to get through it on my own – or with the help of a few friends, and obviously my partner.
I remember lying in the bath shortly afterwards, the baby was kicking and I can remember thinking, ‘Well actually, I’m not on my own, it’s me and my baby, and I’m the only one that my baby’s got at the moment’.
And I started to think about things I could do that might help.
I made sure I did my pregnancy yoga every night. I started getting more sleep, switching off the TV and reading a book instead. I did lots of writing in my journal, writing about how I was feeling or just writing about other stuff. I did some hypnotherapy, just some relaxation techniques really. And I really tried to focus on spending some time each day focusing on the baby. That could just be putting my hands on my tummy when they were kicking and just thinking about the baby, rather than everything else that’s going on all around. I did find that helped just a little bit.
I tried to take things easy as we got towards the end of my pregnancy. My partner took my two older boys away for a weekend which was time for me to have a bit of maternity leave. I sorted out some baby clothes and that helped as well, starting to prepare for the baby coming. I found it helpful.
My partner would come home from work early to let me have a lie in and let me have just a bit of headspace when I needed it. And he was always there to listen.
I would say to mums who have anxiety in one pregnancy to be ready for it again in the next one. And remember that you came out of it last time and you will come out of it again this time. For me, as soon as I’d had the children it was like a weight had been lifted and I felt like I was my normal self again.
Prepare those around you for it. Find the people around you that you can talk to about it. Use them as a shoulder to cry on.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to feel good. Sometimes I found that just accepting that I was feeling low was enough to make it go away, or enough to make me ring a friend or do something with my other children that might help.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to feel fantastic, you don’t have to enjoy every moment of your pregnancy, just ride the wave is what I would say.
After all my pregnancies I can remember thinking about how wonderful it felt not to be pregnant. However sleep deprived I am, however tired I am, I’m not pregnant and I feel normal again.
I wouldn’t say it’s been plain sailing from then because having three little ones is a shock to the system but even through it all it feels like a completely different pressure than when I was pregnant.
There are so many good things about being a mum. Watching the children interact with each other and loving each other is fantastic. The fun that you have sharing the fun of being a child again with them is absolutely fantastic. And watching them grow and develop is just incredible.