The bump chronicles #5: Little O’s extensive wardrobe and an overdue confession

Weeks pregnant: 16
Baby size in fruit: Avocado (there is unfortunately no emoji for an avo)

After yet more travels Little O and I are now back in the UK along with Little O’s extensive wardrobe. I am honestly blown away by the generosity of my friends and family and I think there is a pretty good chance we won’t have to buy any clothes until he/she is more than three months old. To put things into context, my bag weighed 18kg on my way to South Africa. While I was there I offloaded 23 gifts as well as just over a kilogram of vintage car parts (don’t ask). When I came back my bag weighed 22kg.

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Little O’s current size

That’s not really what I want to talk about this week though. I actually want to talk about something that happened towards the end of my first trimester that I wasn’t in the right place to talk about until now.

In my mid-twenties I suffered from a bout of depression that lead to me seeing a psychiatrist weekly for six months. I mention this only because it helps to put what I am going to talk about into perspective. Since that period in my life and largely because of the help I received I have been someone who is on a pretty even emotional keel. While I am not immune to the stresses of life, I am a positive person and generally able to remain in a good mood even when things aren’t quite going according to plan.

In the last two weeks of my first trimester I experienced the blackest depression I have ever been through in my life. It made the time I was in therapy look like a little holiday. I had days where I stood on the roof terrace of the building I work in and thought fondly of just pitching myself onto the concrete below. Sometimes I cried for hours at a time and could not stop, day after day. Fortunately for me almost as soon as my second trimester started I felt like my normal self and all of my dark feelings lifted. Why am I telling you this? Mostly because no one ever talks about it. Everyone acts like pregnancy is supposed to be this glorious time of epic joy where you live in a nirvana-like state of excited anticipation for nine months. So when you don’t feel like that it heightens any negative feelings even more. Even though I had sought help for depression in the past I found it very difficult to talk to anyone about my feelings because I felt abnormal and ungrateful especially since I wanted to get pregnant for such a long time. So I am sharing my experience because I want anyone else who is suffering in the same way to know that it’s not just you.

I also wanted to say please don’t be afraid to talk to someone. I ended up spending an extended lunch sobbing to my amazing best friend, Dawn, for about three hours and it was the only thing that kept me sane. I also spoke to my friend, Emma, who is a doctor and recently did a study on depression in pregnant women – it’s a lot more common that the pregnancy magazines full of pictures of glowing women, smiling blissfully as they cradle their bumps will have you think. From what it seems my period of misery was predominantly hormone related and I was lucky enough to get better without medication but antenatal depression is a real thing and there are options out there that are safe for you and your baby. Suffering in silence helps no one and I hope that this little confession finds its way to someone who has been in the same boat.

15 Comments

  1. I’ve been so out of the loop that I didn’t even know you were pregnant! Congrats! So happy for you and your little avocado 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      Thank you! Right now it appears to be doing belly rolls so it must be enjoying my lunch as much as I am.

  2. Wow, congrats Abbi!! Very happy for you & Mr. O!

    1. abbiosbiston

      Thank you!

  3. Hormones are a crazy thing. You’re in the good part of pregnancy so things should be much better from here on out! 🙂 (Until the birth, which hurts like hell…) 😉

    1. abbiosbiston

      I am choosing to block out the end bit for now. I figure there’s no point in panicking about it. The baby is going to come out one way or anothet.

      1. Yep! I decided to not think about it. At all. 😉

  4. Thanks for posting Abbi, I know what you mean about pregnancy being touted as 9 months of glowing like you’ve been on a permanent holiday and gives a false impression that any woman who so much as has a negative thought is not only a bad person, but a bad mum. Too much pressure is put onto pregnant woman to keep that smiley face going for all and sundry, when the reality is they just want to be left alone as pregnancy can be so overwhelming. I speak from experience. Even though my pregnancy never went full-term, the overwhelming emotions I experienced in the first trimester were enough to make me think that I was going crazy. I am so pleased that you’ve come through that tough time and that you’ve moved into a nicer trimester. But if you ever need any of us, we’re all here for you, good and bad xxx

    1. abbiosbiston

      Thank you for your very brave comment. I cannot imagine how hard losing a baby must have been. I still have so much variation in my emotions compared to pre-pregnancy and as much as I love my little 🐸 a lot of the time it’s like being invaded and that’s never going to be a wholly positive experience. And it’s up to us women to stop perpetuating the myth that it’s the zenith of being for all of us.

  5. I’m glad to hear you’re doing better now.

    1. abbiosbiston

      Thank you. I’m definitely on the up now but I still have my occasional moments and my emotions are so much more intense. Hormones are so powerful.

  6. So important to point out issues like this, and thank you for sharing! Talking about mental health issues is such a taboo thing and that’s bad. Thankfully it’s getting better (at least in Australia), but no one ever talks about mental health fluctuations for the worse during pregnancy. Although it does make sense due to all the hormonal upheaval! I’m glad you’re feeling better now.

    1. abbiosbiston

      It’s getting better here too but even my own response to the way I felt showed me how far we have to go and until I spoke to my friend I had no idea how common antenatal depression is.

  7. Those effing hormones…when you think how pre-menstrual tension has flipped some women into murder, it’s not surprising that things can kick in with the amount of pregnancy hormones. I’m sure, having walked a similar path before it must’ve been pretty terrifying to think that door could open again, I’m so pleased it has passed. As women we do tend to suffer in silence…and it’s wrong..we take medication – effectively chemicals – to make us better, why can’t we accept that the wrong balance of chemicals can make us ill? Thank you for standing up and writing about it xxxxxx

    1. abbiosbiston

      It is very interesting how people wouldn’t hesitate to see a doctor about a sprained ankle or a bad cough but when it comes to feeling unwell mentally we are so reluctant to seek help… and I put myself in that bracket as well. Although I do think that when you are in the throes of it it’s that much harder to think logically and sensibly about a course of action. The more we talk the easier it gets though and the less we feel like we are abnormal because pregnancy isn’t a big basket of roses. XXX

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