Postpartum depression and anxiety that 11-20% of women experience is not at all the same as the more commonly experienced ‘baby blues’ 80% of women experience for a few weeks.Judy Dippel, Author of ‘Breaking the grip of Postpartum Depression: walk towards wellness with real facts, real stories and real god.’
I make it no secret that I am not a naturally maternal person and I work really hard to ensure I am the best Mom for William; the kind of Mom he needs me to be but I wont lie it often feels like i’m trying to roller-blade up a mountain ⛸.
It took me 18 months to admit I was struggling as people often referred to some of the feelings I had as ‘the baby blues’. It took me a long time having these thoughts and feelings building up for me to tell anyone and even then it was practically forced out of me in the most inappropriate way possible… A meeting at work 😳
Let me start from the beginning about my journey through trying to conceive, pregnancy, labour and beyond…
We agreed it was time to start trying for a baby about a year before I fell pregnant. We quit smoking and tried to be healthier. I spoke to my doctor and agreed to come off my medication; I have a neurological disorder called Trigeminal Neuropathy and the medication I was on at the time was linked to birth defects so it wasn’t worth the risks.
Every month my period came like clockwork ⏰ and every month we felt great loss as if we had lost something that wasn’t even there to start with. I’m not going to sugarcoat it but I think we both blamed ourselves. Why wasn’t my eggs working? am I infertile? I know Dave felt very similar about his swimmers too. This year of trying was constantly talking about how perfect our child would be and all the things we were looking forward to.
Monday 17th June 2016; I felt pregnant but had done every month so wasn’t holding out too much hope. I didn’t even wait for Dave to get home before I peed on the stick but there it was… that extra line we had been praying for🤰🏻
Pregnancy wasn’t easy; I had several factors which placed me on the high risk list and an induction was discussed from almost day one… There flew my plans of a drug free natural birth🕊
As the weeks ticked by more and more things went wrong leading to more appointments, more medication and more worry.
I left work officially on February 3rd 2017 to take my remaining leave before my maternity kicked in on the 6th March. We nested and cleaned and prepared the house for a whole tribe of babies even though we just had the one – Both of our dads are twins (not together obviously!) so at every scan I asked them to check there wasn’t another baby hiding 👶👶
1st of March I had my final consultant appointment. They needed to induce me asap to get William or Barry as we had nicknamed him (his uncle Jim still calls him Baz 3 years later) The consultants exact words were “when would you like to have your baby?” OMG! Obviously since they had driven it in to us how important it was for him to be out asap we said as soon as possible, We were booked in for Tuesday 7th March 2017. Our baby would be here in a week. 😊
Only that wasn’t quite the case… your consultant tells you what he thinks should happen and why but he doesn’t tell you if it is possible or what kind of state the wards are in. Thanks very much Fatima Allam for building your birthing suite for future labours but for me at this point it was a massive fucking inconvenience!
The day arrives and we were told to bring our hospital bag… Our appointment was 6pm and no one came to us until nearly 7:30pm. We didn’t need our hospital bag; they wanted to try something called a Foley Bulb induction.
I wont go into the gory details but it didn’t work and we were sent home at 2am and told to come back… with our bag at 9:30am the following morning. They wanted to try the ‘Propess’ Pessary. 24 hours under close observation. Nothing happened and i’m sat on the Maple ward with other Mothers popping out their kids left right and center despite the fact I have been there longer! How fucking inconsiderate of them! Then came the tablet pessaries and the long wait for my waters to be broken. Not to mention the numerous stretch and sweeps (Dave kept calling these scratch and sniffs 🤮) It got to the point that I didn’t believe the labour ward actually existed until my 8th day of trying to be induced… My mother had visited on day 7 and like the tornado she can be (to which I am very grateful)told them exactly how badly this was as no one was telling us anything and we were both just a wreck. It was so important for them to get him here quickly but no one was rushing. I was scared something would happen to William or to me. I wrote a letter in case i wasn’t around. One to Dave and one to William; you know with the usual. Why I fell in love with Dave and what I needed from him in my absence. A bit dramatic I know but it was how I felt.
Then day 8 arrived and by 6:59pm so had William. Lots of pain, crying and a lot of help from the surgical team but he was here. By the time I was moved to a ward it was time for Dave to go home as they didn’t let dads stay back then… I was not ready for this. This tiny little bundle cried for what felt like all night and I was in a shared room. The anxiety of this crippled me. I was awake all night holding him telling him every family member I could remember and their personality traits.
The love I felt for William was instant from the moment we fell pregnant but my life was changing so much, I wasn’t me anymore or the person I thought I had been. Work had been my life since I was 17. I had worked full time and made my way up and honestly loved my job, I would stay late, arrive early and log in from home. All my friends were there or so I thought. I always remember a conversation with my sister about how people had vanished from her life when she had my niece. I wouldn’t happen to me (insert eye roll here 🙄) But she was right… I hate it when that happens. People I spent every day with for years and nights out, boozy lunches were suddenly too busy to text. I’m not going to lie it fucking hurt and I was lonely.
There was something about Williams development that just didn’t sit right. It was OK for me to think it but if anyone mentioned anything I would become defensive and justify his delays. Thinking it was one thing but admitting it is something very different. I hated being on maternity leave, I was itching to get back to work and some normality. Some adult conversation.
Then in the November I get the call… my office is closing. My job is at risk. AGAIN! It didn’t just effect me but my mum also and so many others. I didn’t want redundancy. I had just had a baby. I needed flexible hours and a steady reliable income.
We were saved! the company I work for now was bringing us in house. I felt so relieved and happy but there was just something that made me uneasy. A deep seeded worry that I couldn’t quite shake off.
I returned to work in January 2019 and felt so out of my depth doing just 3 days but it wasn’t possible to do any more because we had no childcare or the funds to send him to nursery at that point. I couldn’t remember anything and there was no refresher training or brief about what had happened in the last year. Nothing. Everyone was trying to prepare for the move and I felt lost. What was once my world was now somewhere I went where hardly anyone knew me so I had no one to talk to. No DSE equipment for my bad back as someone had taken it whilst I was on maternity and lets face it, the company was closing us down. It wasn’t going to buy me equipment for the last 2 months.
My last day at my office was emotional; it felt like the end of a massive part of my life. My mom worked in the same building so on bad days I could go and vent or cry to her but not anymore. Hell i would even miss the mold on the canteen wall, the windows that wouldn’t open and the suspicious stains on the carpet.
The new office was beautiful, so modern and clean. It was only 4 years old and made me feel proud to work in a building like that but it wasn’t home; Its crazy because there were people there in the same situation as me and I just plastered on a smile… ‘this is great’ ‘yes William is beautiful’ ‘no don’t worry i’m fine’
Fast forward a year ⏩⏩⏩
A year of denial about how I was feeling, Fake it till you make it… I was under performing in my job, I couldn’t focus on almost anything so I wasn’t functioning at anything particularly well and have so many dark thoughts running around my head… Would William be better off without me? Am I the one that has caused whatever the problem is with him? how can I do my job in 3 days? Why don’t my team respect me? Why am I so lonely? Why doesn’t my child love me? why do my colleagues seem to single me out? What if our landlord follows through with his threat to sell the house? What will we do if we end up homeless? What if they take William away from me because it’s my fault? What if something bad happens to Dave? what about Big Nanna? would William be better without me? would he?
Have you ever been taken into an office and told your shit at your job? actually no that’s not what was said but its what it felt like at the time. I was forced in a little cloakroom style office to face some things… some things I hadn’t spoken about before. And with each irrational sentence that I sobbed, I felt a tiny bit lighter. That night my boss called me at home to make sure I had told Dave how I felt and that I was going to the doctors… Yes and yes.✔✔
I didn’t know what to say to the doctor and spent a fair amount of time just sobbing and telling him I didn’t know what was wrong with me but he did… Postnatal depression and anxiety. Too far gone to see a councillor. That wasn’t what was said but he recommended drugs for a quicker effect; I knew I needed to say yes as I had to do something as soon as possible to prepare myself not only to be able to function in day to day life again but for the fight I would shortly have for William.
I ended up on anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants and it hasn’t been an easy road as they make you feel that you’re OK when your not so when I first broached the idea of coming off them I though I was ready but was given some poor advice by another doctor and took a deep crash back to despair.
That was over a year ago now and I’ve slowly gotten to a place where it is time to start coming off the tablets. I haven’t had to take any anti-anxiety tablet in a long time. Work is work; I am in a new job that I thoroughly enjoy and I am away from aspects that had helped me spiral but it isn’t my life. It is just a small part of it; Its my little 3 day break from my real life. I go to work on a Monday (my favourite day of the week) and my last shift is on the Wednesday and then I switch off and i’m done… well at least more than I ever was previously. We have moved house to one that isn’t falling down around us and it’s more of a home to us than the other one had been in 7 years and as you are aware we have accepted and admitted that William has additional needs and delays and things have been put into place for William to help his development and I am fighting tooth and nail to ensure he gets the support he needs going forwards. I am now a ‘Momma Bear’ and can be fiercely protective about William and his needs rather than sticking my head in the sand.
I am nearly off the antidepressants all together… 1 half dose twice a week, then going down to once a week and then i’m done.
I’m not sure why I felt the need to get this down in writing. It’s not really part of our ‘Journey onto the spectrum’ but it was a big part of leading up to this point. Its a part of me.