I started to loose it when I was trying for a baby to be honest. It was the biggest thing in my life, I had an app to tell me when I was ovulating and to track my menstruation and I made sure we did the deed whenever we needed to.
It only took 2 months of trying and we struck gold, I was pregnant Yay!!!
Around 6 weeks in I bled….quite a lot, I stayed in bed and waited for my first midwife appointment before doing anything about it. Mainly because I was scared i was losing my baby and a little because I was ashamed that I could be (that’s a whole other article).
At the first appointment she told me off for not ringing because now i had to wait a weekend for a scan to see what was happening. It was a long weekend but at our scan we found out all was fine…no one could tell me why i bled but all was fine.
I’m pretty sure this is when my anxiety started.
Throughout my entire pregnancy all I could think about was how scared I was of losing it, I started to avoid things that I thought might be dangerous for the baby, i even panicked going to the supermarket in case I was knocked by someone.
My Pregnancy was fairly uneventful, I had sickness for the first 12 weeks, heartburn for the rest of the time and didn’t sleep for the last few months of it (pretty standard stuff). I remember feeling very strongly that I couldn’t wait for him to be born so that I could make sure he was safe (oh how wrong I was on that!!!)
At around 2 am at 8 months preggers my waters went. I waited about an hour before I told anyone…to be honest I couldn’t decide if I was just uncontrollably peeing myself as it felt pretty much the same. I googled an article (google is a friend as well as an enemy) that suggested putting a pad on and laying down to see if there was pooling (pooling meant waters have gone).
I did this and when I shifted my position I felt a very dramatic gush of water (gross).
As i was paranoid my whole pregnancy I had put mattress savers on the bed so the mattress was saved!( I wish I hadn’t as it was a really uncomfortable mattress) I Also had my bag packed.
I rang the ward and they said to come straight in so i woke up my fella (I hadn’t told him anything until that point). His first reaction was to ask if I was joking; followed by whether he had time to get a shower. After telling him no we got a taxi to the hospital.
My son was born after about 2 days when they chose to induce because of infection risk. It was quick and terrifying but no real complications.
After what felt like 10 mins my son was taken upstairs to the neonatal ward, I sent my fella with him so he wasn’t alone and I took a bath…..I couldn’t stop shaking and wasn’t thinking straight.
We spent 10 days living in the neonatal ward with him as he wouldnt take to my breast so we had to tube feed, after lots of trying, tears and support from the amazing nurses we tried nipple shields and could take him home.
I didn’t want to go home…I wanted to stay in a hospital with Doctors and nurses and everyone else that could help if bad things happened I was petrified. I never said this to anyone.
I have told you all this as i think it’s important to see how all these things may have affected my mind from then on.
At home I would not sleep unless someone else was making sure my son was breathing.
I never told people this was what I was doing, i found excuses and reasons and if I couldn’t come up with one, I just stayed awake and did it myself.
While on the ward one of the nurses told me I had to be careful that he didn’t creep over to the side of his moses basket and suffocate himself as he tended to jiggle in to the side of his crib. In hindsight that nurse should never had suggested anything of the sort to me. We ended up buying a new crib, he wouldn’t sleep in it and he slept on my chest for the first 6 months of his life, I wanted to be able to feel him breath.
I started having intrusive thoughts, for example if I was walking near some stairs I would imagine falling down them and crushing him, or slipping and throwing him over the banister; I didn’t like pushing him in a pram past driveways in case a car came out and ran him over.
I didn’t tell people about these thoughts, and they were constant, if there was a horrifying scenario that could happen, I imagined it in full and in detail.
I didn’t tell anyone for 2 reasons; –
- I thought that people would think I was crazy and a danger to him, when I 100% knew that I would never hurt him and
- I thought that if i told people it might make them come true.
I have a background as a mental health nurse and knew that I was developing OCD related symptoms, I almost started to do things to ensure that bad things didn’t happen. I stopped myself and reasoned with myself but that didn’t make me feel any better or make the intrusive thoughts go away.
Mainly I just plodded on and hoped that it would get easier.
During this time I had several visits from midwives and health visitors, I never told any of them anything. Every single one of them asked me the question “do you have any thoughts about harming yourself or your baby?” I did not…not once.
“Do you feel sad for long periods of time?” I did not… I was overjoyed and completely in love with my baby.
I did not have postnatal depression. I had something else…I have something else.
I wish that just once someone could have asked me “do you ever have unwanted thoughts that you can not shake?” “ Do you feel like your child isn’t safe, even though you know that they are?”
I would have screamed “yes…that…please help!”.
I went to a Doctor once to tell them that I had intrusive thoughts, he looked horrified and immediately asked if I was going to harm my son….so i pulled back and said no i just had thoughts I couldn’t shake. He recommended counselling. I went to one session but although she wanted to help I couldn’t tell her the thoughts I was having because i couldn’t ever bring myself to say the horrible things as they were too distressing. I honestly can barely utter them now.
I was saved eventually by reading an article about postnatal OCD. It showed me that i wasn’t alone, that it was a normal and somewhat common thing that happens, not just to Mothers I might add.
Over time my symptoms have reduced, I dont panic the way i used to although i still hate not being able to see my son in the soft play area (I watch him like some sort of sniper hawk) and I can’t sleep in the house alone unless my son is in my room and I have a barricade set up on the door. I also think all fireworks are a possible invasion of some sort (I am well aware that this is crazy and do not ever let on to my son).
I have learned to live with the fact that my brain is just not the same as it was before i had my son, and accept that it may never be the same again. We are all happy and healthy and my mental health is manageable just by saying the words anxiety out loud.
I hope that anyone else feeling even slightly the way i felt reads this and realises they are not alone, but mostly I hope that Doctors, Health Visitors and all the other health professionals start asking new Mother the right questions.