I met Sharon at a birthday party. The host had thoughtfully seated us together because we were the only moms at the table. She was cheerful and funny and we clicked right away — sharing ‘mom drama’ of course.
We both boasted about our amazing pregnancies but that is where our stories take a turn… I bonded immediately with CJ and my pregnancy high kept me smiling through all the poopy diapers and 3am feedings. Meanwhile, Sharon experienced prenatal depression. A term I never even heard of. Here’s this tough momma’s life changing journey…
W: How did you envision life to be as a new mom?
S: The happiest time of my life. My first pregnancy was so easy, I was actually walking on clouds with a rosy glow. My son, J came out in 40 minutes! I didn’t even know I was in labour until the student-doctor insisted that he saw a tiny head pop out and I had to push pronto!
Growing up, it was never a question of whether I wanted to be a mother. It was a matter of when. Before my son, I never even held a baby! I was raised in a traditional Chinese home. Often there was no rhyme or reason but you just do things… graduating university and getting a job is expected. There is no such thing in Asian culture as taking a gap year to travel or figure stuff out. I got married at 26 and in two months, I was pregnant.
There wasn’t much talk about the challenges of being a mom and definitely topics around mental health were ‘swept under the rug’. So I thought everything would fall into place and I’ll just naturally morph into a super mom right after my delivery.
W: Sounds like you had this pretty picture painted in your head about motherhood but what was it really like?
Life with my first son was actually quite easy. I had time to recover and relax because there were so many extra hands and eager grandparents helping out. When I had my second son, I experienced bouts of ‘baby blues’. I mainly brushed it away thinking it was probably due to stress from the demands of my job. I chalked it up to be one of those cliche phases in life that would pass.
My husband and I flip flopped on having a third. Being an only child, I always dreamed of a big family. Three felt complete. I had an extremely tough pregnancy with C. Every nasty symptom listed in those pregnancy books, I got!
At my first trimester doctor’s appointment, I simply fell apart. She recommended I see a psychiatrist and that’s when I found out I had prenatal depression. I knew about postpartum depression but never even thought you could feel this way before the baby was born.
I cried daily for 4-5 hrs. My husband stood on the sidelines feeling helpless. My boys had no clue because I would put on a mask when they were around. It’s true when they say that depressed people make the best actors. I was clouded with the darkest thoughts. Even prayed for a miscarriage. This may sound ridiculous now but back then, seeing squirrels playing outside made me jealous and cry — because they had the freedom to prance around and enjoy life.