I always loved children and my dream was to get married and have children of my own so I was delighted when I fell pregnant after just six months of being married!
I loved being pregnant but started to get a bit fed up when the baby was 10 days late and tried all sorts of things to bring labour on! Frustratingly I had to be induced which made the labour quite long and when James was born he was grey and unresponsive – he had swallowed maconium and had to be rushed off to special care. It wasn’t a great start and although we were reunited after a couple of hours I was exhausted and was struggling to breastfeed. This only got worse at home and when I gave up breastfeeding after 3 days I felt like a failure.
Things got better until day 10 when he cried all day and didn’t seem to stop for the next 6 months! All my dreams of being the perfect Mum were shattered and the more he cried the more I cried. Every day, I begged my husband not to go to work and leave me alone with him and I felt isolated and alone. I met up with my antenatal group but they all seemed to be fine and in control and that made it worse. Those first 6 months were such a struggle and I found it difficult to talk to anyone as I kept thinking it should have been the happiest time of my life. As he was able to respond to me more and I could do things with him things got better and by the time he was about 14 months I decided I was ready to have another baby.
Again my pregnancy was good until I got to about 24 weeks and I started bleeding. To cut a long story short I went into premature labour and Jack was born at 27 weeks weighing just 2lbs7oz. He was in hospital for three months, which was a very emotional, but hectic time trying to juggling hospital visits with a 21 month old .It was easy just to get on with things and I felt tired most of the time but fine. It wasn’t until Jack came home that everything caught up with me and the enormity of what had happened hit me. We were advised not to go out in public places so he didn’t catch infections, he was still projectile vomiting and we had moved so again I felt very isolated. Things just went from bad to worse – I couldn’t get up in the night to feed him because I was too exhausted so my husband did night feeds which made me feel really guilty. I was anxious about his feeding and growth and being put under pressure by health professionals, which made things worse. About 2 months after he came home I got up early one morning, got into the car and drove off.
I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do but I had to get away. I did go home later that day but my husband insisted that I go to the GP the next day as he said I needed to get help. The GP prescribed medication but I kept insisting that I was fine and didn’t need to take it. The truth was that I was scared that I would get addicted and didn’t want to admit that I needed help. I didn’t take the medication but set up a branch of Bliss the premature baby charity and got my help through meeting other mothers in similar situations.
Having Postnatal Illness made me feel a failure, guilty and isolated and other things besides! It’s very hard to admit that you are ill especially when having children is something you have always wanted. At the time I couldn’t see that things would ever get better but getting support and talking things over with people was certainly what helped me. You need to take every day as it comes and try and be kind to yourself. I still have my hard days – believe me having 3 boys is not the easiest parenting experience – but please know that you are not on your own and all of us at the charity have been there.