Maternal mental health week.
I’d never really bloomed in pregnancy, hyperemesis playing a big part of each of them. I felt lucky to have only gotten away with “baby blues” after my first two babies. I was tired, I cried but I don’t remember having any of the fog. I felt happy.
It wasn’t until my third baby, when I was told I was suffering from Antenatal Depression. This baby was going to be our rainbow after miscarriages; it was to be our first baby together, our honeymoon baby.
I was meant to bloom and enjoy those pregnancy months.
Once again the hyperemesis kicked in, I felt incredibly isolated, I’d cry on a daily basis; one day I even locked myself in my car and cried for an hour, I still don’t know how I left that car that day. Life felt so overwhelming, nothing felt right, yet everything was perfect.
We were so excited, but I couldn’t be happy.
My baby had reduced movements on a regular basis, each time I was told it was because I was depressed; making me feel even more low, and like a failure.
Developing pre-eclampsia at 23 weeks sent my emotions plummeting, continuing to blame myself; my body was again letting my baby down.
Just under 27 weeks our daughter was born, that rush of love was slow, I couldn’t hold her I had to watch as they took her away, not knowing if I’d see her alive again.
The weeks we spent in special care my emotions were up and down, they were all over the place. Every tear I shed made me feel guilt, because I was meant to be happy that she survived her early birth.
I was battling with poor support, being made to feel what I was doing was not good enough. I think that had a massive effect on my mental health. I found it very hard to bond with her; sharing her with medics and watching her grow through a box, was incredibly difficult.
But at five weeks old our daughter died from Sepsis; it was sudden and devastating.
The grief broke me, emotions I never knew even existed, the way it made me feel can’t be written in words, or explained. Just because it is so unimaginable.
I was open from the very beginning about her death, I wanted to keep her memory alive, but keep strong for my family, especially for my children. During the days and weeks which followed it often felt like we were living in a fish bowl, where everyone was watching and waiting for us to drown, or break into a thousand pieces. In the attempt to protect others’ crying or showing emotion in public wasn’t ever a real option. Hearing about baby death is hard to hear.
Her death changed me.
Falling pregnant again wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was one we did fairly quickly – maybe too quickly. It wasn’t the easiest of things to do either. Hit by the hyperemesis yet again. Rather than enjoyment it was terrifying, and the fear didn’t end when she was born. Parenting after loss is completely different from before. I don’t know a lot, and wing it a lot of the time, but I know that children die, and how too.
I was relieved when the pregnancy was over and reaching the magical 35 days felt like a weight had been lifted. But nothing mentally is the same. I didn’t know if I wanted to ever be pregnant again.
After another miscarriage and some discussion we fell pregnant with our youngest daughter. Living with the death of our daughter has broken me as I mentioned above; but I with our youngest I had severe Hyperemesis, where I couldn’t even lift my head from my pillow at times. Being sick with every movement.
A fear of being sick in public brought pain and anxiety whenever I did venture out. Using three lots of strong anti-sickness medication made me feel incredibly anxious that I was hurting our baby; the effects it would have on her. But I simply couldn’t function without them. Aside from the baby-loss, this bout of hyperemesis was the worst time of my life. It should have been the best time. I felt so ungrateful when I was carrying a healthy baby but I was desperate for her due date, wishing the time away so quickly. When just three years before; our daughter had died.
The emotions with our youngest daughter tore me apart, from guilt – that if I complained too much about being sick, she might die. I felt amongst the vomiting40/50+ times a day I HAD to be happy. I HAD to be excited. I NEEDED this baby to come home; I had put so much pressure on myself.
By this pressure I think it made it very hard for me to bond with our youngest when she was born, I was so sick yet so focussed on bringing our baby home and avoiding a hospital stay that maybe I had forgotten to learn how to love her through my pregnancy.
I hate that. I hate that the one thing I was placed on this earth to do as a woman, I, not failed as such as I do parent 4 beautiful children, I am lucky to be mum to five. But bloody hell I felt like I had failed the one thing I had looked forward to doing in life, which was pregnancy and birth.
By not having that textbook pregnancy, it impacted on my mental health, because I wasn’t enjoying them, or behaving the way other pregnant mums around me were. When I see other Mums excited about wanting another baby, even after a loss; I wish I could feel that.
For me, it feels me with dread; I was sterilised at the last birth, and we somehow ended up having a miscarriage at the end of 2017. I didn’t know I was pregnant, it was circumstances at the time, where we were told- but I hate to say that I felt relief. Total and utter relief, I know that I will probably get some kind of judgement; of course, it is sad. But I cannot go through another pregnancy again – ever.
Maternal Mental Health certainly should never be a taboo – ever. It affects everything, our bodies, and our brains. Being able to parent properly; with the right support network that “light” at the end of a very dark tunnel with come through. It takes a whole village to raise a family.
I am not the person my husband married in 2011; but I am glad he loves who I am now too –in the words of James Arthur “He made me feel as though I was enough.”
Life is just plain ugly- you need to see the ugly to appreciate the beauty which surrounds us