A few weeks ago I started crying… and I quickly realised they were tears of relief and joy. The realisation had hit me – that I was finally truly free of the post-natal depression. I had thought I had been “over it” for years… but I really had not been at all. I think I just wanted myself to be free from it so much that I had just pushed it deep inside somewhere, denying it was still there.
I’m not going to try not and go into great depths with all of this… but here is the “jist” of it.
A few months after becoming pregnant my sons father received a posting to go to Afghanistan with the Army for 8 months or something like that – with about 3 months prior to that he’d be away training. Pretty much half way through my pregnancy he’d be leaving us, for a year. He is in the Territorial Army, and so I was pretty dumbfounded about the posting… I didn’t want him to go, but he had to. That was the start of ante-natal depression. Yes, you can get that whilst pregnant. I didn’t realise this was what it was at the time, but I just knew I was messed up. There’s many reasons for me thinking this… I can’t really go into on here. But it was bad.
The pregnancy was also not an easy one… the second half was troubled. D wasn’t growing as he should, and I had to be observed closely. He had IUGR which meant he wasn’t growing properly in accordance to his dates. I had constant growth scans and liqour volume scans, as well as having to go to the hospital for physiotherapy for pregnant mum classes and the ante-natal classes. I’d also get a midwife visit once a week at home – and I’d often end up at the hospital afterwards to be hooked up to the machines to trace his heartrate and movements.
D was not a happy bunny in there. He didn’t move as much as he should… and as time past this got worse, and the growths slowed. I got taken in to be “started off” at 30 weeks after one such visit where he wasn’t moving much at all. Luckilly in two days time D’s dad was coming back home with the rest of the lads too, just for one day to drop off his Army “greens” as they’d now had “desert” kit given to them.
I got started off, it didn’t work, the second time failed too. I was too early they said, and D was too small… just a couple of reasons why it never worked. So the next morning I was taken to the labour suite and had my waters manually broken and was hooked up to the drip of stuff that gives you contractions. I can’t really remember now when D’s dad arrived! I just remember he was exhausted cause he’d not really slept in 48 hours because he’d been on the field training. But I was glad he was there… even though he kept falling asleep in the chair beside me!
Anyhoo every time these went up to decent strength to give me proper contractions worth of doing anything “down there”, D’s heartrate would plummet… REALLY low… into the 50’s. After the second time, they called for a doctor, and was told to try once more. By this time I’d already guessed D was gonna be a c-section baby! I could just tell myself, he wasn’t having any of this labour nonsense! The third time, his heartrate plummeted into the 40’s this time, and I was whipped very quickly onto my side with an oxygen mask forced into my face being told to “breatheeeee! long deep breaths… do it for your baby!”…. the midwives were scared, I could hear it in their voices. I knew then for sure, we were off for a c-section. Luckilly D’s heartrate increased once the drip was stopped, and therefore I managed a spinal to be awake whilst he was delivered. He was put straight into the incubator and I didn’t see him. They had to work on him… he was so tiny, at only 4lbs 4oz. He went to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) with his Daddy whilst I listened to the doctors talk about chinese meals whilst they sutured, the starving me, back up.
D spent his first night in intensive care section of SCBU, as he needed a glucose drip and extra care and warmth as he couldn’t keep his warmth at all. D’s dad had to leave the second day of D’s life back to training – the Army wouldn’t let him stay. He got a cuddle from D before he left. I never got cuddles with D til day 4. No-one offered me to there, and I was too scared to ask. I thought I wasn’t allowed to, for his health etc. I thought maybe they’d broken the rules with D’s dad because he was leaving. D stayed in SCBU for a week. Once he was back on the ward with me for a day I took him home, I couldn’t hack it in there any longer, I was getting no support at all with breastfeeding – even though D was still only 4lbs 4oz, and I was struggling with the breastfeeding because in SCBU D had been tube fed my expressed breast milk and additional formula, then he’d been bottle fed in there by the nurses without my permission, and I had then been trying to breast feed him. The poor baby didn’t know whether he was to lie there doing nothing to get his food (like with the tube) or which way to do things with his mouth to get it to “work”.
I took him home, and a day or so later I gave up the breastfeeding as he just couldn’t get enough out of me, as he was so confused what to do. The bottles were a godsend, he could work them just fine. Plus being so wee he ate a LOT.
D also had mentally bad colic. I mean it was AWFUL! My Dad, Mum and I had to take it in shifts to stay up during the night with him! He was that bad he never really slept, and just dozed on and off instead – because of the colic. I used to phone my Dad at work asking him how long he’d be til home for lunch, as he was – and still is with my neice – the expert baby burper!! I couldn’t do it at all, I was useless at it. I used to also sit and watch my mum walk up the hill after her work and stand by the front door to pass D to her soon as she was through the door saying “burp please!”.
Daniel wasn’t an easy baby is what I’m trying to say here… and if it wasn’t for my folks I’d probably have went properly insane instead of just having the post-natal depression…
A year after D was born he was diagnosed with having a form of Spina Bifida… which they misdiagnosed as something better than it actually is, and due to my friend Google, I managed to correctly diagnose him myself with a rare form called Occult Spinal Dysraphism – with a Tethered Spinal Cord. Two links here to it Here and Here (this one is written by a woman who has this sort of problems). There’s a lot that may happen in D’s life that I’ll not know until it happens. He may need surgery on his spine, and his legs, and also may lose control over his bladder and bowel at any times. He will have to have regular MRI scans to check on him, especially as he hits his teens when the boys do that growth spurt thing… his tail bone is tethered (stuck) to the base of his body by a fatty lipoma (mass) that means it’s not free in there meaning as he grows it could pull on his brain stem. There was a lot of stress and worry at this time.
The first couple of years of D’s life were so hard! We were fighting to get a home of our own, and eventually I managed to get a mortgage for a home, and we moved in. A year later, D’s Dad and I split up. The home was bought solely in my name and luckilly I was just able to afford staying here – despite the fact I was now training to be a nurse. By this time I thought I’d gotten over the PND and that I was just a negative person and that’s the way I was!!
It’s only this year, I’ve noticed it. There’s definately a weight that’s not there anymore… life is brighter, and I’m happy! I look at life differently, I see things differently, and I’m different with D… I see HIM differently. I’m a different person. I’m not negative anymore… and I look for the positives in things. It’s like I’ve had black and white lenses over my eyes and suddenly, I can see in colour… that’s about
It’s strange when it hit me I wasn’t consciously thinking about it at all. I was just sat at the computer, listening to music and tweeting when it hit me… this was my breaking dawn. I broke into tears, and smiled, and I laughed… and then I cried some more. Happy tears. It had been nearly 7 years of sadness lifted. I was so ready to see I’d finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel and stepped out of that tunnel INTO the light! The relief I felt was amazing.
I’d moved on… and I’d let go of all the sadness of my past. It was time for a new chapter in my life. I was happy and free.
This blog was for the Writing Workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak blog.
Check it out here…