This World Maternal Mental Health week I wanted to share not just my story, but other women’s to show the depths that PND reaches. Each of us have a different story, a different background, but we all have one thing in common. We aren’t alone in the fight.
This is Carly’s story…
Gemma has kindly let me share my story of my battle with PND so I will try explaining my journey as best as I can. One thing I have learnt is that reading other people’s stories really helped me be more honest about the way I was feeling so I hope if your reading my story it will make you feel the same way, so here goes.
My journey began when I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). My diagnosis came about when me and my partner decided to start a family, I came off the contraceptive pill and my periods suddenly stopped! I then began experiencing severe pain in my groin which is when the alarm bells started ringing and prompted me to go to the doctors. I was told that my case of PCOS was so severe I may not be able to have children. Being told this news absolutely devastated me and made me want a child more than ever! For a whole year I didn’t have a period and every 4 months I was at the hospital for various tests and then randomly one day I got my period! I have never been happier to have a period in my life but turns out, although I was having periods again, I wasn’t actually ovulating. So we went back and fourth to the hospital for a further year and we felt like we just weren’t getting anywhere. Finally they eventually put me on Chlomid (a medication to force ovulation) and was told if this didn’t work after 3 months we would have to have the more intrusive form of IVF. The first 2 months of taking it we didn’t get pregnant so I set my mind to the fact that we would have to have full blown IVF. Then on the third month, our miracle was created!
Seeing that positive pregnancy test was like living the dream I had dreamt so many times, our nightmare was over. I wanted to scream from the rooftops and tell the world I was carrying our baby. I had a really good pregnancy, in fact I loved every second of being pregnant. I had a few scares throughout but everything turned out to be fine. I couldn’t wait to meet our baby. I imagined what he would look like, I would dream about the moment I would first lay my eyes on him and hold him and feel that rush of unconditional love that everybody says you feel when you first see your baby. I just couldn’t wait!
On the 18th May 2016, the day before our baby was due, I went into labour. This was it, our miracle was on his way. I was a little scared but I was so excited. I won’t go into every single detail of my Labour but it ended up being horrendous! I know Labour isn’t a walk in the park but I really did have a tough time. From the beginning it turned out to be a nightmare, I had a back to back Labour, babies heart rate kept dropping, I got a temperature, my epidural kept stopping working, I pushed for 2 hours and baby’s head wouldn’t budge, I was cut for forceps, forceps didn’t fit, then they used the ventouse and pulled that hard they pulled me down the bed and the suction cap flew off the babies head. Luckily on the second attempt they managed to pull babies head out and I pushed the rest of him out all whilst I could feel every single thing because my epidural wasn’t working and the midwives kept telling me it was pressure pain I was feeling. I could feel them put the forceps inside of me and turn them around babies head!! How the f**k is that pressure pain!?…. anyhow our baby arrived on his due date, the 19th May 2016 and he was perfect. This was the moment my PND switch was switched on. I held my baby in my arms and I couldn’t actually believe he was my baby, I actually couldn’t believe he was here but I didn’t get that overwhelming rush that your told about. It makes me feel so guilty admitting that but I just didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him with every part of me but I was all of a sudden filled with dread. I held him and studied him for a while but looking back now, I didn’t hold him as much as I should have or so I thought I should have.. I thought that you would be so overjoyed you wouldn’t want to put them down!
To this day I’m not sure whether what I was feeling was normal or not but to me I wasn’t feeling right. Don’t get me wrong, I was in love with our baby, I really was. The days that followed the birth, I felt so low and I mean lower than low. I passed this off as being the baby blues but after a good few weeks I wasn’t getting any better, I was getting worse. Even my own mother was worried about me! That’s when I started to realise something wasn’t right. I dreaded getting up everyday, I hardly wanted to do things for the baby myself, couldn’t bare visitors handling him, didn’t really want to face visitors myself, I didn’t eat and hardly drank, I didn’t want to leave the house and when I did I wanted to get back ASAP, there were days where I just wanted to leave the baby and walk out the front door and not come back, I’d literally sit there and sob all day none stop, I’d shout at my tiny new born baby for crying, the list goes on and on but the worst thing of all, I regretted having our baby! Everyday I thought ‘what have I done’, I wished I could go back to my life before, all at the same time of beating myself up and thinking ‘how can you think this way, he is all you have ever wanted’… I even believed that because we went through IVF, I forced us to have a baby and that I wasn’t meant to be a mum, I wasn’t meant to have a baby and that’s why I was feeling this way.
When I eventually admitted my feelings to my HV , she actually cried. It took a couple of months for me to admit how I was feeling but I did it. I was petrified that I would be judged and that they would probably get Social Services involved but I was relieved when my HV told me she was proud of me for being so honest and admitting my feelings and that I needed help. I would never have found it as easy to open up about how I was feeling if it wasn’t for Gemma’s blog ‘Fighting the Mum Funk’. I realised I wasn’t on my own with what I was feeling and that being open about it wasn’t a bad thing.
I was referred to my doctor who confirmed it was in fact PND that I was suffering with and not just the baby blues. I didn’t want to go on medication straight away as I was scared of going on them so I opted for counseling. I was told I would receive a letter for an appointment but weeks turned into months and I didn’t receive a thing. I battled through everyday but I was getting worse, not better. I had to find the courage to get myself back to the doctors. I managed to do it and I walked in waving my white flag. I needed help and I needed it now. I took the medication and I am so glad I did as they have helped me so much. I still have my bad days but I have more good days so I will go with that.
I find that anxiety is a big factor of my PND and it causes me to have palpitations which isn’t pleasant. It can manifest in so many different ways.
Having PND has really tested my relationship with my partner….
My partner has never understood my feelings, he’s always thought I was being ‘stupid’. For this I resented him. On my bad days I would literally cry for help, for him to tell me I needed to get a grip. The one person I needed the most and I felt like I didn’t have him. Time and time again I would try and tell him how I was feeling and just wanted him to hug me and tell me everything will be ok and that he was there for me but it was like talking to a brick wall. He still doesn’t get it now but because I’m dealing with PND better myself I don’t rely on him as much to understand my feelings. In fact I give up trying to get him to understand. I suppose it’s hard for people that haven’t had to deal with anything like this to get it – I don’t know – but all I do know is that he is an incredible Dad and he is an incredible partner and I love him dearly!
Our Son is 1 in a couple of weeks and I honestly cannot believe it. I feel like I’ve blinked and missed the whole year. When I look back at pictures of our tiny newborn I get so upset, I feel like PND robbed me of those first precious months of our baby. I can’t remember a lot of it and it’s pictures that remind me of how tiny and precious he was and they also remind me of how terrible I felt.
I feel so proud of myself that I’ve survived nearly a whole year of parenthood, I’ve also survived nearly a whole year of PND. I’ve also pushed a baby out of my nunny after being cut open and having abnormally sized instruments wedged inside of me… I’m amazing! We are all amazing. No matter what we go through, we are bad ass bitches.
I wanted our little boy more than anything in the world but that didn’t stop me from being affected by PND. It just shows that it can affect anybody. Knowing I’m not on my own has helped massively on those days where I’ve felt completely lost and talking about it gives me a sense of relief.
We’re in this together xx