I've been umming and ahhing about whether to write this post for a long while, but today I got asked a question which made my decision, and I feel even if it helps one or two people, I'll have done a good thing!
At my 28 week hopsital appointment today, I had a midwife I had never met before, and she took a look through my green notes and noticed the dreaded 'P' word, and asked...
'So you suffered with post natal depression, have you had help or support with this?"
For the first time in 4 years of ignoring the question and the subject, it felt amazing to say YES, I start a pre-natal workshop in a couple of weeks, and I'm on the waiting list for One to one therapy.
After having a birth trauma with Daisy-Ella 4 years ago, resulting in an emergancy CS, and Post natal depression being spotted quite early on, I always denied it!
'I'm coping fine'
'I'm just tired"
'Yes of course, I'm enjoying every second'
'Yes, The overwhelming feeling of love is amazing'
'Yes, The labour was well worth every second'
Those are just a few of the things I would say when Health visitors, friends and family would ask questions, all with a nod and a smile and a sickly feeling inside!
I didnt feel the 38 hour labout was worth the sleepless nights and crying baby, I didnt feel like I was enjoying every second, I felt scared to hold my baby because of the pain I was feeling...and with every single one of these emotions came guilt...MASSIVE guilt! A sickening, butterfly, pit of my stomach guilt!
I went to my GP around 9 weeks after having Daisy, I wasn't eating well, was feeling emotional, and the tiredness was killing me! She referred me to the health visitor and said I may have post natal depression...No way I told my partner, and my mom...I'm just tired aren't I? I'm just stressed....isn't every new mother? So I visited the HV, put on my best smile and biggest act, and pretended I was perfectly fine adjusting to like as a new momma! I couldn't have made a bigger mistake!
It is only NOW...4 years on, being pregnant with my second that I have decided to act, because I refuse to ever feel like that again! This time round I want to remember every milestone, be able to hold and care for my baby without being in a daze, feeling like im being constantly watched and judged!
I remember one comment which will never ever leave me, Daisy was around 5 weeks old, and someone close said to me 'That's the first time I've seen you hold her' To hear that was heartbreaking! I had held her in the comfort of my own home, still struggling from an infected C-section scar, I did struggle when I was out and about, and that comment was a kick in the stomach that triggered a lot of negative, judgemental thoughts!
It has been looked into whether it was actually PND I suffered from, or Post traumatic stress from the birth, Or even both! I am totally against medication/anti depressants, I know they work for so many people and I take my hat off to those that choose to have them, but I wanted to try a more behaivoural and emotional route! Everyone is different aren't they!?
One of the first things I did was to choose a different hospital this time round, to avoid triggering any of the birth trauma! I also opted for an elective C-section!
I went to my GP around Oct/Nov last year, after a really bad year and finding out I was pregnant again, I didn't want anything to trigger those feelings again, and I was reffered to the local healthy minds authority...I was embarressed at first, it was something I had kept from everyone around me, even my partner of 12 years! But the feeling of relief was immediate and I wish I had done it so much sooner!
After an hours assessment I have now been reffered to a 8 week workshop which starts this month, where other parents who have suffered similar, meet up, chat, drink tea and concentrate on positive thinking and how to avoid the same feelings and actions as last time!
I'm also just a few weeks away to meet with a one to one therapist to practice Cognitive Behaivoural therapy! I honestly cant wait!
Not only will I be more mentally aware this time round, the people close to me will be able to recognise and watch out for any signs and symptons that may pop up!
I have already made a start on making myself feel better...I take time out to meditate, even if it is just 2 minutes before I get up, or when I go to bed! I have started to use Art therapy as a way to switch off and find peace, and I have been finding the positive in everything!
I truly believe it is the little things that matter...The things you can help yourself with! It doesn't ALWAYS take medication, or a midwife to spot things, you can really help yourself!
If one thing comes from this post, I want one mother out there who feels down, or feels they need extra support, I want you to get it! Speak to your partner or GP, Even google local baby and parent centres, mingling may help! I hibernated and didn't really mingle with other moms and children when Daisy was born, I was happy to stay in, and I definatly think getting out more would have helped!
Another thing I want to happen, if your a friend of someone who has just had a baby, message them, facebook them, offer to visit, offer to pop round and do their washing up! It's the tiny little things that they will remember and be grateful for! Not the nappy cakes, expensive clothes or false promises of babysitting...none of that will help our mental health! It really is the flying 10 minute visits to make her a quick cuppa, to load her washing machine, to tell her to sort her eyebrows out if she looks like s**t!
Friendship and family are the key to recovery...I've certainly got mine sorted this time round, I feel confident that those closest to me know what I need, and know what to look out for! But only because I'm open now, and I will ask for help if I need it, or have a cry when I'm having a bad day!
To go from party girl, who only shopped at Topshop and who lived at home with her parents...to a full time mommy, living in leggings, in a new flat with real bills and a new baby was a lot for me to take, and I was never going to admit I needed help at the time! Pride, embarressment and lack of confidence affected a full year of my life, and how I did things, but I am happy to say I am now confident, content and proud of what I have learnt and become! A beautiful little girl called Daisy-Ella has taught me what life is really about, and I am determined this Baby Bump will do the same!
I hope this helps just one person take the step of getting help or support, I hope it encourages you to go for a walk around the block if your feeling claustrophobic, and I hope you too can come out feeling more positive and confident as a parent.
Good luck and High five to all of you!