“It wasn’t until my waters broke that it dawned on me that I was going to give birth within the next few hours. For months my husband Steven and I had been planning the arrival of our first child. We had planned for every eventuality; we had baby grows in numerous sizes and colours, some long sleeved, some short sleeved in case there was a heat wave in March. However, we never discussed being postnatal – but then why would we!
I never spoke about the labour in the run up to the birth, but I was adamant I was not going to have a cesarean or epidural as I was frightened of needles. After two days of screaming, blood everywhere and several injections into my backside, I finally gave birth to Sam weighing in at 7lbs and 12oz.
I was relieved it was all over and I could start planning for picnics with friends, endless shopping trips and twelve months off work. I thought it was going to be amazing. Sam slept like a dream and I was so proud of myself that I could breast feed. As the weeks progressed, I started to get anxious and fretful. Every bone ached in my body. When Sam was eight months old, I didn’t want to go out. I wasn’t interested in socialising, lost three stone in weight and wanted to give up. After months of going to the doctors I finally broke down at the health clinic. What was wrong with me?
The next thing I knew the doorbell rang and in walked a doctor from the mental health unit and a nurse. I was very frightened. Were they going to put me in a psychiatric unit? Were they going to take Sam away? After a lengthy discussion, they explained that I was suffering from postnatal depression. I didn’t understand. I hadn’t been depressed before. I am normally a happy, bubbly person, the life and soul of the party. I was put on 24 hour suicidal watch by the mental health team. I had daily visits from the team and weekly meetings to the psychiatrist.
It took along time to recover, not weeks, not months but years! Those were some of the darkest days in my life – visiting a counselor, psychiatrist and numerous doctors. Now after having my second child I feel I am finally winning the battle. It was a tough decision to have a second one but I’m glad I did as she is beautiful and my family is now complete. I work part time in
London and have a huge network of friends to talk to when times are tough. My buddy from the charity was amazing and I now have a friend for life who I share the rollercoaster with. I was able to confide in her what I wasn’t able to do with the doctors for fear of my baby being taken away. It’s been a testing time but Steve has been a rock giving support and many shoulders to cry on. Now I’m approaching 40 I’m excited about the future – and what it holds for my family of four. Postnatal illness is a cruel and wicked illness – but please don’t suffer in silence. There’s lots of help available through your Health Visitor, Doctor and other mums who have also suffered…so please get help if you are suffering.”