It’s time I started addressing the elephant in the room… no not me, although at 18 weeks pregnant I could easily pass for the old matriarch of a herd of elephants meandering across the Serengeti… I’m bloody HUGE already!
No, the elephant I’m referring to is my old nemesis, post-natal depression.
It’s funny, in those early days after you find out you’re pregnant, you are really just living until that first scan. That moment when you’re told there is in fact a heartbeat and a little life in there.
Then you sort of exist from scan to scan, watching and waiting to be told everything is progressing as it should be. You find yourself holding off celebrating your news or going mad buying baby clothes until you reach that supposed safe milestone we imagine in our minds… that de facto point of no return when you feel you can really celebrate your pregnancy and start to face the fact that shit is about to get very real… I’m not quite there yet. For me, the next milestone is the BIG scan coming up, the 20 week scan where we’ll get more details about our little jellybean.
So, despite my obvious and huge growing bump, I haven’t really let myself get carried away or even started thinking about anything beyond right now, such as actually giving birth, how my little dude will react to a sibling, the change in sleeping arrangements, tackling the cesspit that is the spare room, getting all the baby stuff out of the attic and the just the physical practicalities of having a baby and a toddler to look after. We haven’t even told him that he’s got a sibling on the way just yet.
But as the weeks go by, I’ve got to start getting practical. But since the moment I saw ‘pregnant’ pop up on the test, I’ve had this niggling, unwelcome feeling in the back of my head that keeps getting louder and louder as the weeks tick by.
What if I go off the deep end again after this baby is born? What if I find myself drowning once more in that cruel fog of post-natal depression? What if I can’t find my way back this time?
And if I’m being really honest, it’s something that’s been back there eating away at me since before I even became pregnant for the second time.
It’s the elephant in the room.
And the truth is, it’s taken me a really long time to be in a place where I was even ready to consider a second child. The dark echoes of the past still haunt me, my home is full of reminders and the thoughts that I might end back up in that pit of utter despair, loneliness and hell terrify me to the core.
The picture I've used for this blog was taken a selfie I took on 24th January 2017... four days after my rock bottom moment. I hate it. I hate looking at it, because I can see just how tired and lost I was. The huge dark circles under my eyes, the sad smile and vacant look. Alone, terrified and desperate for help.
In some ways I think allowing myself to get pregnant for the second time was both brave and stupid. Brave because I’m willingly walking back into the fire, knowing just how badly I can get burnt, only this time I’m armed with everything I need to put out the flames.
Then again, there are days when I feel stupid, because, well I’m walking right back into the fire and the truth is that while I like to think that this time things will be different, ultimately so much of post-natal depression is beyond my control. I remember that PND doesn’t care about any of my best intentions or my new found strength or knowledge or previous experience. It’s a cruel, indiscriminate thief who wants to rob me of my happiness and it will do anything it can to latch on.
I look at where I am now and, for the most part I feel good. Sure, there are days when PND taps me on the shoulder and says ‘hey, I’m not done with you yet,’ but those days are fewer and far between. I am stronger now, I am armed with more confidence and I like to think that if I do feel overwhelmed this time around that I’ll recognise the signs sooner and that I won’t be afraid to ask for help.
I look at all the women I’ve met, talked to and connected with over these last two years and I feel hopeful. Hopeful that this time things will be different and that this time I’ll find strength in this thriving, vibrant community of like-minded mums, who will listen and support me.
Because none of us are alone.
I'm always here for any mum who feels like she needs to talk. You'll also find my archive of blogs on Post Natal Depression here or search from the side bar.