The Other Truth About Having A Baby - Depression
Becoming a parent is the most magical time of someone's life.........
.....Or is it?
What about those with prenatal and post natal depression? What about those that have had a traumatic birth? Why are we programmed in to this state of mind that it should be a certain way and feel ultimate guilt if it's not?
As parents we are almost brainwashed in to thinking we should enjoy every waking second of it. From pregnancy to even the labour....We've all heard SOMEONE say "I really enjoyed labour it was magical!" .... Magical was far from my own experience of labour. I would be more inclined to use the words "Traumatic" and "Horrific" for the way that mine panned out. I will also say that for the pregnancy and the six months following my Daughters birth due to prenatal and post natal depression.
This isn't something that i've really spoken about a lot. I guess because i still feel pretty shitty about it!
Who wants to readily admit that they hated being pregnant, labour was the worst thing they have ever experienced after being induced four weeks early due to prenatal depression and then going on to have postnatal depression where it took a good six months to actually fully bond with their child? Nope. No one.
We all want to say that pregnancy was magical, and we looked in to our little humans eyes with instant deep love and a bond that nothing could break.
All I ever wanted was children. More than anything in the world. I wanted to be a good parent and prove that i could love my child and give them more than I had been. So the fact that i didn't hit me like a tonne of shit bricks and I guess that's why I don't like thinking about it. I didn't want to feel like the parent I always vowed to be the opposite of.
My pregnancy started off rocky. I was getting pain and bleeding and I went to the hospital to be told it was probably ectopic and i was told to go to another hospital. There I was told that it was simply too early to tell and so I had an agonising number of further visits and scans to be told that actually, all was fine.
From there I had morning sickness (Ha!! Monrning....wouldn't that have been nice?) More like Morning, noon and night sickness and I couldn't eat anything apart from cornflakes without being sick. It was like being on a boat with constant sea sickness.
I got very big very quickly (I was always a size 8/10 so I looked ridiculous) and i got sick to the back teeth of being asked by six months, when I was due because " OOOOHHHHH look at that bump!!! You must be ready to drop soon?".......No actually I'm only six months pregnant but thank you very much.
As it turned out I had polyhydramnios which is basically where there is too much amniotic fluid and so my darling daughter had her own private pool. So much so that at one scan the nurse called over other nurses with her mouth open saying "Look at this!!!" Yep. Thanks.
My mood had dipped and i was struggling. I had SPD (very painful) so could barely move for the pain and the size of me. To put it in perspective I had no where to eat my dinner. We had no table and chairs then and if I was sat in the chair my bump went to the end of my knees literally leaving no room.
I saw a specialist midwife while i was pregnant and It was clear I was struggling but it was never mentioned that i had prenatal depression - I only learned of that name after I had given birth. I kept a lot of how i was feeling to myself as I was very ashamed.
With 4 weeks to go I sat in an appointment in a state and literally blurted out that I didn't want to be pregnant, I didn't want the baby, I just wanted it all to be over. She looked at me in panic before swiftly going to get the specialist midwife who managed to calm me down and i was told that I couldn't remain pregnant and that this baby needed to come now.
I was scheduled for induction the following day.
The labour was long and awful. I had been given no antenatal as I hadn't been given the right information about how it worked and so so when the midwife was telling me to remember my breathing quite frankly I wanted to slap her.
The labour was well over 48 hours. I was horrendously sick - the midwife actually said she had never seen anyone be so sick. I had nothing left to give and my back felt like it was crumbling in to a million pieces but everyone was screaming at me that I I needed to keep going which I couldn't. It took me losing the plot to be taken to theatre for them to realise she was trying to come out shoulder first and I ended up with a forceps delivery and episotomy (feel free to google if you don't know what that is!)
The stitches I was given were by a dr that didn't ususally work at that hospital and the way he treated me i was told by another NHS staff member she would make sure that he never did again.
I lost a lot of blood (but wasn't told this at the time, only on a DRs appointment where they said "gosh you lost a lot of blood didn't you?) and the reason during labour my back felt broken was because I had put my coxyx out which I realise following labour on the account that I couldn't move and spent the next three days in a wheel chair being wheeled down to see my daughter who was in neo natal (a whopping 8lb 11 even though 4 weeks early!) in my eyes because she was early because of me.
I finally went home after being assessed by RAID who deemed me fit to leave without a mother & baby unit admission with no baby to house filled with new baby cards.
I was in a alot of pain, i couldn't sit due to the stitches, I struggled to walk and the hospital wanted me to go back in to spend a couple of nights there with my daughter so they could make sure all was ok. My anxiety was through the roof and I didn't want to.
It took a lot of phone calls and being made to feel like I was being questioned as to wether I was fit to have her before they said we could collect her.
I broke. In to a million pieces. I had been through the mill and i just wanted my daughter to try and start to bond and get on with things.
When we got her home and changed her nappy for the first time she screamed a terrible high pitched scream. We saw that she had a patch of raw skin on her bottom that was bleeding. The community midwife was horrified saying it was the worst she'd seen and that it was chemical burn from not being changed enough and that the neo natal staff had clearly not changed her enough while we were not there. I was heartbroken and it felt like it was all my fault.
From then I struggled to bond and I just went through the motions. I couldn't breastfeed due to medication I was on and the days where she wanted feeding tiny bits in 5 minute intervals all day long I felt like i was going to lose my mind.
I didn't feel how I thought I should and I didn't feel how I wanted to. There were times I wished I'd never had a baby at all. That is raw honesty. I hate admitting that. I hate even thinking about it but that's the truth and I wont be the only one and that's why It needs to be said.
I had outpatient appointments at mother and baby. I sat in that waiting room long after my appointments had finished just crying and not wanting to go home, Literally not knowing what to do and feeling like I didn't know what to do. I was putting on a front. I was looking after my daughter, I was playing with my daughter but It was like I was watching someone else do it and mostly I kept it to myself. I couldn't admit the full facts to myself let alone to anyone else.
The truth is it took me a good six months to really bond, to really feel in my heart that I was happy I'd had a child. That sounds awful. I hate it. But that is the truth. The cold hard truth that so many face and not just Mums but Dads too.
I had a traumatic birth and that obviously didn't help. The lack of support didn't help. This doesn't mean that you have to have experiences those things to experience prenatal or postnatal depression. These can happen even if someone has a good pregnancy and a straightforward labour.
it's a subject that many are scared to talk about. or if they do skirt around the edges of it's true depth. I think it's important that these things are said.
I LOVE my little princess more than anything in this whole wide world. anyone will tell you that. I would lay down and die for her without a second thought. I still criticise myself constantly. I still feel like a shit parent (even though I'm permanently told otherwise) and I still HATE myself for how I felt and the things that i thought back at those times. The fact of the matter though is that it is mental illness like any other. It's not intentional. We are not bad parents, vile humans or incapable of being a good parent but it's an illness. A bloody hard one that tests you to your core. All your beliefs about yourself, everything you ever thought you wanted that you you get tiold you should be grateful for.
After a new baby arrives it's full of people wanting to visit, wanting to hold the little bundle of joy, wanting to ask you about your labour, telling you beautiful they are, congratulations, you must be over the moon, "your life will never be the same now haha" , You'll never sleep again.....but isn't he/she AMAZING?! ......... it fills your head and makes it want to explode and it's so incredibly difficult to deal with, especially when mostly people haven't got a clue what's going on with you because you've bottled it all up inside, slapped a smile on your face, nodded in al the right places and just hidden away feeling utterly ashamed.
I've written this to tell you that you don't need to feel ashamed. If you can relate to any of this then it doesn't mean you're awful, it doesn't mean that you will never love your baby. It means that you have an illness and like any illness it's ok to speak out, tell someone, go the the DRs, get help, be honest. This isn't just you this is the reality for so many and you are not on your own.
The important thing is to tell someone. Keeping it all inside will only make it explode eventually.
Not everyone feels the pure joy and elation they thought they would when they have a baby. it's unexpected as we all EXPECT to feel that way. Just because it doesn't that doesn't mean that you never will. I promise.
Please don't feel alone. Please don't keep it to yourself. It's Okay, it WILL get better but it's important to speak out about how you're feeling .