Hayley Matthews: Pre-natal depression hit hard after praying for baby

Pregnancy is not always a joyful event (Picture: Getty)
Pregnancy is not always a joyful event (Picture: Getty)
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After six months of keeping it a secret (I’ll get to the reasons why later), I’ve finally announced to the world that we’re expecting our second child at the end of October.

We’d wanted a brother or sister for our son for easily the last three years. However, it just wasn’t meant to be. Every test showed a negative and the disappointment created a huge hole in my stomach each time.

I wanted a sibling for my son and to extend our family so bad, but it just wasn’t happening. So when those two little pink lines showed up back in February, I’d thought I’d be overjoyed. I wasn’t.

I was very far from it and couldn’t work out why. The confusion, frustration, guilt and upset alone were enough to drive most people mad. I’d wanted, asked, even prayed for this moment and yet, despite the news finally arriving that I was expecting, I was very upset about the situation and had absolutely no idea why.

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I was surprised and annoyed with myself. It was all very frustrating and upsetting so, for this reason, I decided to keep my news a secret, only telling a handful of trusted friends and family.

We did tell our son early on as he likes to jump about me like I’m a trampoline but, even then, I didn’t explain my feelings to many people, keeping baby chit chat to a minimum.

I couldn’t face excited faces gushing over the news when all I wanted to do was hide in a corner and pretend it wasn’t happening. “But think of all those families who can’t have babies and want them,” I heard myself say. How ungrateful I was, and how dare I dismiss the miracle that was happening.

I looked out baby clothes, washed them, then hid them all away because every time I looked at them my stomach churned. “What have I done?” was all I could think. After speaking to the GP and midwife, I realised that I was suffering pre-natal depression. I didn’t realise it could hit pregnant women from as early on as I’d experienced but then again, there is no set way with depression.

It hits us all in different ways. A friend put it all in perspective for me saying “people expect pregnant women to be delighted and full of joy, but it’s not always like that and pre-natal depression is a real problem”. Just someone saying those words to me made it all ok and I started to be a lot less harsh on myself and felt so much better. I’ll always be grateful to her for her honesty and that’s why I’m being honest with you all, because if it helps one person out there then I’ve paid it forward.

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I don’t really know what caused these feelings to kick off for me. Maybe it was my frame of mind, hormones or the shock of falling pregnant after all those years of accepting it wasn’t going to happen again. I just have no idea. What I do know is the struggle is very real and even now at six months pregnant, I still have my bad days but on the whole things are much, much better. Making a new life is something I think we can take for granted now and then, but every single one of us has been given birth to by a woman and two people made our lives possible, and that is utterly amazing when you think about it. It’s a small miracle but one that takes mental strength – as well as a strong uterus – and I’ll never take that for granted again.