5 things that happened when I told my midwife I had previous mental health issues 4 years ago

5 things that happened when I told my midwife I had previous mental health issues

The last time I was pregnant I cried a lot.

It's a hard position to find yourself in, pregnant without intending to be. I railed against it a fair bit. It wasn't the right time, though when that right time was scheduled for I don't actually know. This was not a part of my plan. Up until that point, my plan was not to have plans. I was afraid. And as I said, I cried a lot.

Then I bled and took to my bed to await what I feared was a miscarriage. I howled like an animal and begged the baby to stay.

"You're wanted, you're loved. Stay, stay, stay."

I thought:

"This is what you get for not being thrilled, for not being grateful."

The bleeding stopped. The crying stopped. I started to feel a bit better. I was so so happy that the baby had stayed suspended inside.

Then I stopped crying for a fair bit; I felt a bit better for a while. I ate lots of Pop Tarts and rubbed my belly and talked to the baby inside who I called Stalk. I made plans. New plans that included impossibly tiny clothes and breast pads.

Then I stopped sleeping and deep inside me along with a small baby; a huge gnawing dread began growing like a parasite.

Advertisement

I developed a phobia of the baby things. I couldn't look at the changing mat that ebulliently chimed "Mama loves her baby giraffe!" I began to avoid the baby's room, though it held a strange draw for me, invisible tentacles clawed at me as I hurried past and occasionally succeeded in pulling me in.

In the baby's room, I would sit and utterly lose all grip on my studied composure. I cried and gasped and became nauseous with terror. I will never love this baby. I will hurt this baby. I will never ever be a good mother.

"I am one of those women who should never have a baby," I thought bleakly. I was griped with the enormity of what was happening to me. This wasn't just my life that was ruined; I was ruining this baby's life too. Before it was officially begun, he was saddled with a wild, irrational, mad, selfish, shameful, ugly, aberration for a mother.

I think I was probably not well in my head at this point.

The baby was born a week later, surgically removed from my gaping, split belly as I watched from a remove, a few feet above and worlds away from myself.

What followed was a hard year. Hard on my son as he got used to life. Hard on The Man, who wanted a happy family. Hard on my mother who watched fretting as I refused to admit that I was not fine and not perfect and not okay. It was hard on me too.

At my son's first birthday I surfaced gasping for air and feeling giddy at last for having survived something monumental. I toasted my son who has thus far survived me, The Aberration.

I thought:

Advertisement

"I will never do this again. I cannot risk it. I cannot stray that close to the precipice ever again. Ever."

I am now pregnant again. We thought long and hard about this decision. And I am begging the universe to let me feel the joy and let me learn a new way to be. Please, please, please let it not happen again. But I know that pleading to some unseen force isn't the most practical of steps, so in conjunction with that course of action, I decided to do something radical. Radical for me anyway. I told someone.

I said to the midwife:

"The last time I was pregnant, I went mad, and after the baby was born, I was not right for a year."

And an amazing thing happened. They did not preemptively confiscate the baby as I think I had feared subconsciously. They got proactive on my ass.

Five things things that happened when I told my midwife I had previous mental health issues:

1. She told the obstetrician

The obstetrician said "I see you had postnatal depression. Great! Let's get you a referral straight away just to be on the safe side." No drama, no reporting to social services, just rational, calm measures.

Advertisement

2. I was seen in the Mental Health Clinic within a month

I met my counsellor and spent an hour bringing her up to speed on my life to date (the abridged version at least). I felt bad for not bringing her snacks or a pair of those novelty glasses with the eyes painted on so that she could periodically nap when the story lagged.

3. The counsellor described a course of action

My counsellor, after patiently listening to me announce that "I'm completely fine now, and I probably won't be needing those," indicating a box of tissues and then proceeding to use quite a lot of them, described how I would come back a few times before the baby is born and also after the birth.

4. I generally felt better about what was coming

Obviously, I have no idea what's coming, but I am tentatively optimistic that I am not going to hesitate about seeking help if it happens again.

5. I wondered why I thought that admitting it would be so hard

I thought I'd write about this in case there is any other women out there having their histories taken by a medical professional and about to lie when it comes to the question about mental illness. Don't lie. We deserve help.