How I learnt to deal with prenatal depression during pregnancy

How I learnt to deal with prenatal depression during pregnancy

Getting pregnant does not always mean that you will do a happy little dance and dial every family member’s number to share your wonderful news. I was depressed and at first, I thought this was abnormal. I googled “prenatal depression” online and I was surprised that not that many people openly talked about it. I want to share my personal journey and what I learned from it. Hopefully my story can show other people who are going through the same thing that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite being Asian, I don’t have pressure from my parents to be a mom. I’ve lived independently since I was 17, so I was fortunate enough that my parents did not interfere with my choices in life. Many of my friends are overachievers and are happy being singles.  To them, raising a family means they may have to take times off from work or sacrifice their freedom, a trade off they are not willing to make. For a while, I thought the same way. Then I realize, I was deeply discontent with my own life.

Something is missing in my life and I can’t pinpoint what it is. Perhaps parenthood is the answer? After turning 30, having kid has been a question I weighed on my mind. After all, I’ve always wanted a family, so why put it off any longer?

Uprooting my life to Boston when I turned 28 and getting married was a new beginning for me. I switched career and worked hard to get my CPA license starting from scatch. Three years later, I find myself at a cross road. I’ve agonized over having a baby for almost two years. When I finally summoned the courage to start a family. I realize, it’s not as easy as you think and unlike what we see on televisions, I was not overjoyed when I first found out about my own pregnancy.

In fact, for the first three months, I could not accept the reality. I was depressed. I was excited by the arrival of this gift, instead, I felt like a failure. I did not feel like I could provide the life I wanted for her because I was not where I wanted myself to be.

To everyone else, I have everything I need to start a family. To me, I did not feel ready at all. My vision was to be a business owner, which would allow me the flexibility and money to provide well for my family. I’m nowhere near my goal. I felt guilty for putting off my dreams and making excuses not making things happen. I felt unfit to be a good mom. I did not want my child to see her mom struggle.

I never knew you could be depressed after pregnancy. Is this going to make me a terrible mother?

Then my mentality changed. I don’t know what triggered this transformation, but my perspective about my own life completely changed.

I’ve learned to take more actions and tackle every day problem in life step by step.

I’ve learned to see problems in my life as opportunities for improvements.

I’ve learned to accept the present and be more intentional with my own life.

This pregnancy has made me embark on a self exploring journey and taught me some valuable lessons that I wish I knew.

Lesson 1: There is never perfect time for things you want to do, perfect time is always now

Sheryl Sandberg said in her book “lean in” that a woman should never intentionally brake on their career because they are planning to have a family. It’s a vicious cycle, if you slow down on your career for family now, you will have a more difficult time playing catch up after your kid is here. I am guilty of this myself.

I took a pause because subconsciously I was preparing myself for my role as a mom at some point down the road. I made excuses not to try as hard in my job. I held off on writing my own business plan. I took mastermind class with entrepreneurs I aspired to be, but I never acted on any of their advice. I stayed stagnant.

Then when I was blessed with such precious gift called a new life, I did not feel ready because I have done absolutely nothing to create the life I wanted for myself. If I always went at full momentum, I’d be closer to where I wanted to be and I would definitely be at a happier place to start a family.

Lessons 2: Accept the present, celebrate it, and be intentional about what you do every day

Part of the reason why I felt depressed was that I did not accomplish what I “expected” myself to do. I was disappointed with myself. I hated myself for not pushing myself harder. It makes me feel even worse when I see other moms who seem to have everything all figured out. They have better jobs with higher pays, awesome benefits, and they can provide more for their kids.

I lost sight of what I valued the most because I was too busy comparing myself to others, which led me to nowhere. I was comparing myself with people I was not aspired to be in the first place. It was completely unproductive.

After following entrepreneurs like Seth Godin, Chase Jarvis, and reading book like “the end of jobs” by Taylor Pearson, I made a conscious choice to give up corporate America. I need to accept the good and ugly that comes with my own decision.  I need to live more in the present moment, celebrate and appreciate what I have right in front of me.

I need to set an intention every day to work towards my goals. This means that I will be intentional with what activities I spent my time on and who I spent my time talking to. I will only engage in activities that propel me to move forward with my life and stop wasting time ranting and being idle.

Lesson 3: More than anything else, what your kid needs the most is a happy and confident parent

I was worried that my current circumstance would not allow me to provide a good life for my kid. Then an epiphany came to me, I need to focus on myself first before worrying about sending an unborn child to private school.

First of all, change is the only thing that’s constant in life. Your current situation is not permanent. There’s no reason to get depressed over your present, especially if you are already taking actions towards your goal.

Secondly, if I can’t find a way to my own happiness, I definitely will not make a good parent. I need to remain emotionally healthy in order to weather through all the ups and downs that come with parenthood. The best way to achieve that is to focus making myself better first and direct all my energy to get myself closer to where I ultimately want to do, so I can be in a good position to provide for my family and be a pillar for them.

The more depressed I was, the more guilty I felt. It was not healthy at all. When I adopted this new attitude and took more actions, I felt my life was set in motion.

I still faced obstacles, but instead of getting frustrated, I now have a calmer outlook about life. I see every problem as “figure-out-able”. This attitude really changed my life around. New opportunities came knocking on my doors. My relationship with my family also improved. We now worked so much better as a team and we were able to accomplish a lot of things in a short period of time.

I learned a lot more about myself and my relation with others after this experience. I learned my own shortcomings and devised a way to work with them. My baby has taught me a lot about myself, about life, about what it really means to be a parent even I even met her. I feel eternally grateful for this gift. I don’t think I’d ever closely examine my own life if I was not blessed with this present from god.