As I embarked on my journey to have my third son, my mind was filled with many questions: Will the boys like being big brothers? Will I even be able to have a third pregnancy? What will the baby look like? But what I never questioned was the state of my mental health during the process. Not once did I stop and wonder if my mental health would be compromised on my journey to become a mother for the third time.
But it was.
The scary part was that, until a stranger heard my story, I didn’t realise that my mental health was in danger. It took me telling somebody else about the issues I had faced in previous pregnancies and the worry I was feeling about this pregnancy to realise that I was suffering from more than just the usual worries. It was at that point I was able to seek the help I needed here in Doha.
That is why, ever since that moment, I have shared my story. To remind others that it is OK to feel scared, anxious, or depressed. That, while hormones do play a big part in emotions during pregnancy, it might be something more. That perinatal anxiety is more than just feeling a bit blue, a bit anxious, a bit scared. It is real. And it is not talked about enough.
It is OK to not be OK.
My story begins back in 2012, when I had a traumatic delivery while giving birth to my first child. A category one emergency C-section with my life endangered, the time it took from the doctors filling my room to my son being lifted out of me was just seven minutes. He was born blue and unresponsive. Luckily, he was also born just in time. Birth trauma, never dealt with and packed away in a compartment in my brain, and left there as I carried on with raising a new baby.
It continued in 2015 when I was pregnant with my second son and adamant I was going to get the healing birth I deserved after the trauma of my first. That was not the case as, yet again, I had another emergency C-section that showed I was within hours of haemorrhaging from an undetected rupture.
Once again, I boxed up all the negative feelings and worries associated with my second birth and pushed them all to the back of my mind to be dealt with another day.
Except I never dealt with them. The next time they surfaced, I found out I was pregnant once more. In 2018, while pregnant with my third son, my mental health began to slowly unravel due to my previous birth traumas. I carried on regardless for the first fourteen weeks—during which I was involved in a pretty severe car accident—and then I finally fell apart.
At that point, I was referred to the Maternal Mental Health team at Sidra Medicine and diagnosed with perinatal anxiety.