My partner and I decided we were ready to start a family, and we got pregnant the same month we started trying. We were very luckily. We were so happy to see those two positive pink lines. But that happiness soon changed to dread when I was vomiting 8-10 times a day, in and out of hospital for fluids every fortnight. I lost 10% of my body weight, couldn't eat or drink anything. I couldn't go to work anymore from week 8, and was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum and antenatal depression and anxiety. I had never had any history of mental illness before. This was new to me, even as a health professional who understood depression, I didn't expect it to be so crippling and disabling. I couldn't function and became just a shadow of who I used to be. I was hospitalised due to severe dehydration, and saw psychiatrists at the hospital who started me on antidepressants, but even then, it didn't help.
It spiralled into panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and even thoughts of harming the unborn baby. I had booked a termination of pregnancy procedure three times, and paid three times. I even went to the hospital for the termination, but cancelled last minute. I couldn't go through with it. My husband begged me not to do it each time, telling me it was depression that was wanting to end the suffering (mentally and physically) and luckily, I had small moments of clarity that I could remember that she was a wanted baby. That we underwent so many tests to make sure she was safe. I was admitted into a mental health unit in hospital, and stayed there for a month, underwent psychotherapy and they started me on another anti depressant. Things slowly started to improve.
I vomited right up until the last day before my Caesarian procedure, but I am now a new mum to a beautiful little girl, who I love and adore. I had initially feared that I wouldn't bond with my little girl after the traumatic pregnancy, but I loved her immediately.
I am still on antidepressants and still seeing my psychiatrist, but the antenatal depression lifted as soon as she was born. There is so much research on postnatal depression, but a lot of pregnant women are suffering from antenatal depression which goes undetected - often masked by guilt and shame. But it's a lot more common than we think.
Please reach out for help, and don't give up until you do find the help that you need. With the right treatment and support, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.