I found out a few weeks ago that I was going to be an Aunty for the first time. My younger sister is pregnant and I am incredibly thrilled for her. But it was my own reaction to the news that surprised me. I was happy. There was a slight tinge of jealous, and a bit of "why not me", but on the whole, the overriding emotion was joy.
But she was wary of telling me, so much so that it wasn't until she was eight weeks along that she plucked up the guts to let me know, but I had already guessed. I thought something was suspicious when she kept telling me NOT to come over with a bottle of wine. Then when she didn't want to go ice-skating at the temporary rink on Bondi Beach, I knew something was up. I was right, of course. I always know it when friends are pregnant - that sixth sense that infertiles develop.
But in the past, I haven't dealt with news of other people's pregnancies so well. At the very minimum, a bottle of wine was required. A day off work was also on the cards. It goes without saying I would cry myself to sleep and burst into tears at inappropriate occasions.
It came to a bit of a head last year, when a friend of mine, just hitting the magic 40, and someone I thought
was only having one child, told me she was pregnant - she found out a few days before she was going to start IVF. At the time, it felt like I was surrounded by pregnant women or families who had just welcomed babies.
I ended up in a deep funk of depression for weeks. I had already resigned from my job to concentrate on baby making, and was freelancing, so there was no-one relying on me unless I agreed to do specific jobs. I would get up late, run a bath, and spend hours in it, crying, hating myself, making pacts and promises with the Gods that I would be The Best Mother Ever, if only I was given the chance.
Of course nothing made me feel better. I was seriously depressed. My husband insisted I go see the counsellor at my IVF clinic and she straight away suggested I go see a psychiatrist and a psychologist. They got me started on a regimen of anti-depressants and cognitive behaviour therapy, and a year later, it's almost like I am a new person. IVF and infertility has been so much easier to deal with since I started taking those magic little pills.
IVF can cause depression. It can cause rational people to do irrational things and behave in ways they generally wouldn't. A quick look on the assisted conception forums on EB tells a thousand stories of once happy, functioning women driven to despair by their inability to have children. I have even read stories of women being driven to suicide by their inability to have a child.
Of course not everyone becomes depressed, but I would hazard a guess that a lot of women don't want to admit to it. But take it from me, it's much better when you finally do. There is no shame in asking for help, and I guarantee, you will feel a lot better when you do.
Have you experienced depression due to trouble conceiving a baby? Comment on Prue's blog.