I’ve spoken in various different blogs about my depression and my traumatic birth. But I wanted to keep raising awareness, so I wrote this. Hopefully one day there won’t be such a thing called stigma when it comes to mental health.
I suffered with depression prior to my pregnancy, we found out we couldn’t conceive naturally. I felt like the world had come crashing down around me. I was very low. We sort fertility treatment and ended up having IVF. I became very anxious. I basically lived in a bubble through my pregnancy.
During my pregnancy I suffered with severe morning sickness and had to have medication. I was diagnosed with pelvic girdle pain and saw a physiotherapist. The IVF and pregnancy certainly took its toll on me both physically and mentally. I had a few scares through my pregnancy regarding my baby’s heart rate. This did not help my anxiety at all. I expressed to the medical professionals my levels of anxiety and that I was concerned about my delivery. I didn’t think they would get her out. I was told it was just nerves and not to worry, every mum feels like it.
I was not asked about my mental health during my pregnancy.
After a rough pregnancy she decided to come a few weeks early.
I had mixed emotions, I thought finally we get to meet and this worry will be all over with.
That’s what I thought anyway. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I arrived at the hospital things were progressing well. I was 4cm dilated. I didn’t have the most supportive midwife. I could hear women screaming in the background and she said ‘don’t worry, there’s no real need to scream that loud it’s not that bad’ I smiled and nodded.
Things took a turn for the worse. My daughter was back to back and I wasn’t progressing. She was stuck at 7cm. I had no pain relief except for gas and air. I had a pethidine injection and that was it. I was in and out of consciousness by this point. I was in labour for 16 hours. The midwife raised the alarm as my daughter’s heart rate dropped very low. The doctor rushed in and they performed a forceps delivery.
I don’t remember much of my labour. It’s like a puzzle to me. I have to piece it together bit by bit. It was very traumatising. After my birth I remained in hospital for six days and was wrongfully discharged. I had no care or empathy. Day six came and the doctor discharged me saying I had bruising and swelling.
Turns out he was wrong and I was rushed back in 9 hours later. My community midwife was worried and said she hadn’t seen an injury like it before. My observations were through the roof. My husband called a private consultant because we had lost all trust in the hospital at this point. The consultant sent me for a CT scan and blood tests. I was diagnosed with sepsis via an infected hematoma. Major surgery followed the next day. I remained in hospital for a further two weeks and had IV antibiotics and morphine to help with the pain alongside oxygen because of the threat of organ failure. Apparently it helps to fight the infection. The negligence and lack of care continued until my GP took over my care. Something I thank him for.
Finally someone cared and listened to me.
During my hospital stay I remember saying to the doctor I wanted to jump out the window during my time in hospital. I was never assessed or even asked about my mental health. My husband was asked to sign my consent forms because they said I was not mentally fit enough to do so. Nobody came to see me to discuss my wellbeing with either of us.
I did not bond with my baby at first. I felt like I was being punished for having a baby because of how we conceived. It took me a while to finally realise that I am supposed to be a mother, I am a good mother and she does deserve me.
I had days and nights of crying all day and crying myself to sleep. I had flashbacks and nightmares. I was agitated. I couldn’t relax no matter what I tried. I was angry all the time and so tired. I had no energy to do anything. I couldn’t sleep or eat.
I had days when I felt so low I didn’t want to talk to anyone or leave my bed. I wanted to die. I couldn’t hack the pain or hack how I was feeling any longer.
It felt like I wasn’t meant to be a mum. It shouldn’t be like this.
I had intrusive thoughts and I didn’t know how to deal with them. My husband sat down one night and said ‘I think you need to see someone, it may really help you. I don’t know how to help you. I don’t want to watch you suffer.’
I felt very nervous and anxious. I thought why would someone listen to me after what had happened? Will they just stick up for their colleagues? I sort help and it took finding the right counsellor who sat and listened to me. I did find her and I wouldn’t be here sharing my story today if it wasn’t for her. She sat and listened. She sat and said you talk when you are ready and tell me your story.
It took several months to open up and I got so distraught I couldn’t speak so I wrote it all down at home and gave it to her to read. We worked on it from there. I had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and it really did help me. She helped me with breathing exercises for my anxiety too.
She was very open and honest with me. At times very to the point which is what I needed to hear. I was all go and no rest and she said if you don’t stop you will have a break down. I knew something had to change. It was not easy. It took months to actually sit still whilst she slept because I was so agitated and irritable that I just couldn’t. I could not relax.
Anger turned to guilt. I blamed myself and I felt so guilty that I missed out on so much of her first year and I’ll never get it back.
I felt that I was the worst mother. She didn’t deserve me.
Even now I have bad days two years on and I guess now I can say I have ways of dealing with them:
A box set
Anything to switch off and focus on myself. I understand this is hard work with a baby but I learnt that if I don’t focus on my self-care I will have a breakdown.
Postnatal depression and PTSD are not an easy journey. I’m not going to say it will get better and you will get over it in time. You never truly do. It’s about finding a way to cope with the bad days and you will. It just takes time.
There are some great charities and organisations out there willing to help don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are some great communities that are willing to help and share their experiences and show people that they are not alone in their journey and we can fight this together.
Just remember you are great. You are amazing. You are Strong.