So there are many, many, many blogs on Mental Health, postnatal depression, depression and anxiety. I have decided to share my experiences too, the reason for me doing this is to get it off my chest and if that helps just one person then i’ll be happy. I have to say that all my words are my own and everything in this blog is my own personal perception of each situation and some things that I share are not done to cause bashing against anyone especially my ex husband who is exactly that! My ex, we are divorced and he is still in my life as the father of my children so anything I share about him from my perspective obviously has at least 3 more points of view.
I was diagnosed with PND after having my 3rd baby, Mark was born on 6th December 2011 and weighed 7lbs 14ozs which was exactly the same weight as my firstborn Leah in 2005. When Mark was born our household was a very busy one as we (I was still married at the time) had my 14 yr old cousin, Stewart, living with us due to him having some difficulties at home. Leah was 6 years old and in Primary 2 and we also had John who was 14 months old. We’d waited a while after leah to have another because I had had to have an emergency c-section with her, she was back to back and her head wedged in my pelvis so after a long hard labour it ended in an operation. Nothing too horrendous happened during Leah’s birth apart from me being told I had this infection called strep B which I had never heard of. In my drugged up state I thought it was an STI and assumed that my ex must’ve been cheating on me. I never said a word, but I did allow my mum to stay in the room the majority of the time and they would only let one person in with me at a time so my ex and my mum were a tag team. Or they were supposed to be, my ex later told me he felt pushed out although it was him I asked for when it was time to push and to go to theatre. Leah was born at 08.58 on a Wednesday morning, weighing 7lbs 14ozs and my first glance of her when they held her up over the screen, I thought she was my spitting image. Then they took her to clean her up and weigh her etc, when they brought her back all I could see was that she was the image of her dad. It was love at first sight and from that moment on I truly knew what love was.
In the recovery room, Leah took to my breast like a duck to water she was an absolute natural 👌🏻. The doctor that had been looking after me came to check that Leah and I were both ok because of the Strep B infection and it was at this point I burst out crying and asked if I had an STI. I was reassured that no this was not the case that it was an infection a lot of pregnant women carry and if passed to the baby could be fatal, i’m so glad I never realised that at the time as a threat to my babies life would have been far worse than a threat to my marriage. My marriage definitely had a lot of ups and downs over the next 5 years but when I fell pregnant for a second time I really, really wanted a natural birth, unfortunately this wasn’t to be and on the 4th October 2010 at 16.15 on a Monday afternoon John was born weighing 7lbs 5.5 ozs. It was a planned section at 41 weeks as labour wasn’t happening and because I’d had a section before they wouldn’t start me via drip, which is standard practice due to scar tissue being weak, I think. John also took to my breast naturally and both him and Leah were exclusively breast fed for 2 months before being transferred to formula.
So when John was 6 months old and I suddenly couldn’t stand the smell of coffee, I knew we were pregnant again. Having John I had felt on top of the world I had my princess and a little prince so I was content with 2 kids, suddenly we would have 3, well 4 if you include my little cousin Stewart. While pregnant with John I had been diagnosed with a chronic pain and fatigue condition called fibromyalgia, I had been referred to the rheumatologist due to widespread pain and tiredness and this was my result.
Due to having 2 previous sections there was no option but to be booked in for a third, so Marks birth was booked for Thursday 6th December in the am. I hadn’t enjoyed my pregnancy this time around and I’m only a wee bit ashamed to admit that I was a little disappointed at the 20 week scan when the sonographer told us it was another boy as I was convinced it was a girl. I remember the morning going to hospital to have Mark I was very excited and very nervous, excited to meet my beautiful boy but nervous because I knew the risks of a third c-section mixed with only having had one 14 months previous. We had to be there really early, like 7.30 I think but we were waiting a few hrs before it was our turn. I started having a few niggly contractions while we were waiting and this made me even more nervous. Finally when I was taken through to theatre and being prepped getting my spinal etc I felt deep down that this wasn’t going to be the same straightforward experience I’d previously had. I felt sick. Really sick. They gave me antibiotics and Strep B was mentioned again. I was laid back and my arms out in the arm rests, I told the midwife beside me I was going to be sick, my heart rate kept dropping, the surgeons had to tilt me so far back I thought I was going to slide off the bed. Seriously the midwife was holding my shoulder at one side while my husband held the other. I spewed quite a few times. It seemed to last forever, I felt like I was going to die. Mark didn’t cry straight away they didn’t show me him over the screen as they had before. I was shivering. Why was it quiet?! Why were the surgeons whispering?! Then a baby was screaming, is he ok?? Reassurances yes he’s absolutely fine, he’s 7lbs 14ozs, the same as Leah was. He’s given to his dad, surgeons are still stitching me up, I think this is strange I had my other 2 babies in my arms by this point. He’s put into his little plastic crib and we’re taken round to recovery. I want Mark we haven’t had skin to skin, I want him to feed from me as the other two did. He finds my nipple and feeds a bit but not very long. The surgeon comes to speak to us and explains that things had been quite complicated, my bladder was attached to old scar tissue in a way which meant they had to make a second incision to my womb higher up. I can’t remember any other ins and outs of what happened but I was on the cusp of loosing 6 pints of blood which would have meant a transfusion. Fortunately I didn’t get a transfusion but I did have a drain in my wound for a few hours. All this drama meant I was in an awful lot of pain and they’d used staples to close my wound which had been a massive fear of mine. As i’m very overweight my overhang on my tummy is big and when I could move I was scared to incase the staples ripped me and I was in sooo much pain.
On the second day when my mum and ex husband came to visit I was sitting up on the chair. I remember asking my ex to help me stand up because I needed the toilet but he said ‘no get up yourself’. This really upset me but I didn’t show it as all the kids were there, later he said he had been joking but I thought if that was the case he would have helped me but he didn’t. My ex was struggling at home with the kids on his own and there was an incident when my mum came to pick them up to visit me, my ex had taken John in the buggy to town to get a few bits and John was cranky, probably due to missing his mummy. The bottle of milk he had bought and put under the buggy had fallen out and burst on the bus, so when they were all at mine getting ready for the visit my ex was worked up shouting at John saying it was his fault the milk had burst and he wouldn’t allow my mum to take over changing his nappy so he could take five minutes to calm down. This is what happened as it was relayed to me from my mum who was worried about John, my ex then took 14 month old John into the hallway to strap him into the buggy and according to my mum she heard my ex smack John, according to my ex it was the noise of the buggy straps. I was in hospital in a lot of pain hormones raging and my baby and I lucky to be alive and every visit was bringing more stress. I didn’t know what to do or who to believe but what I did know was that I had 4 kids to care for and was not present to witness the incident so I went home to try and hold our family together and recover from a horrible operation.
The first 2 weeks home with Markie are a blur, on the 18th December a Sunday morning my ex was getting ready to go to work when he got a phone call from home ( he’s from St.Helens) to say his dad was in a bad way in hospital and he should get there as soon as possible. My father in law passed away that evening with my ex in the room. So now a week before Christmas and still not fully healed I had to pack up Christmas for 4 kids and travel to St.Helens. My mum and Stewart were a massive help with the kids. So much had had happened since baby Mark was born I felt like I was just a robot getting through each day. I had put Mark straight onto formula when I got home as my stomach was in too much pain to hold him for too long, I felt so guilty about this because my other two had got 2 months of my milk. But he was thriving so it was ok and with trying to meet the needs of the other 3 kids and trying to be supportive to my grieving husband I didn’t really have time to dwell. At our 6 week check my health visitor went through the mental health questions with me to determine likelihood of Postnatal Depression and I remember thinking I was doing a great job being upbeat open and honest, but her face was a picture when I said “everyone feels suicidal sometimes, don’t they, i’m not gonna actually do it!?!”. Poor woman, I genuinely believed that tho I thought the feelings of wanting to leave, of feelings no like I was drowning was a ‘normal’ thing that a lot of mums of more than 2 kids must’ve felt. She called the doctor and made me an appointment, I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and prescribed fluoxetine, I still take it to this day and Mark is 6 now. I struggle severely with depression and anxiety and I’m nowhere near the mum I want to be, but every single thing I do manage to do with/for my kids is done with 100% love and effort.
A lot more happened in the three years from Marks birth til my ex husband and I separated, ultimately I had to make the decision to end that marriage as it got far too toxic for everyone and although we still have our issues, I am working on creating a positive atmosphere and lives for my 3 children.
Feel free to comment and give me feedback particularly in relation to wether I have gone on too long, revealed to much, not explained things fully or even just to say hi. Also if you enjoyed reading and want to know more then please subscribe to my blog and look out for more posts to come.