On Saturday I’ll be attending the Women’s Voices Conference in London, to share my story with other mothers, doctors, midwives and campaigners. I’ll be standing up with pride and with determination. Because I have a voice. And you have a voice. And we need to start using those voices. We need to be heard.
In just three weeks, I will have been a mother for twelve years. Twelve years! I cannot believe it has been that long since my first born baby girl was placed into my arms and my world was given a huge shake from within. In those twelve years I have seen a lot. I have learned a lot. And I have gained so much. If I was to tell you what I have brought away from the last twelve years it is this.
Now don’t get me wrong. I never needed anyone to tell me stuff about pregnancy. I read all the books (I didn’t know blogs existed when my eldest was born almost 12 years ago!) and I knew pretty much what to expect. Once you’re expecting, all kinds of tales start to come to light and the office conversation seems to revolve around the glamour and glitz of it all. But there were three things that I really would rather I’d been told about before they caught me by surprise. These are the three things nobody told me about pregnancy…
You’re going to snore
Seriously! I have no idea what so ever what this was all about, but during my first pregnancy I started snoring! Nobody before- or since, I might add!- has ever mentioned this to me so I started to wonder if it was just me that had to endure this delightful side effect? And I say that I had to endure- yes, I know my husband had to also- because my snoring was that bad it would wake me up! I often felt as though I was in a different room, listening to someone snore and it really wasn’t a nice experience at all. I’ve since read that snoring during pregnancy can occur when the nasal passageways become swollen, which can also lead to blocked airways. It can also lead to high blood pressure, which really isn’t good! So there you go. If you’re pregnant, and snoring it might be something to mention to the midwife at your next appointment. (more…)
I posted recently about finally stepping into the GP’s office and walking away with a label around my neck. Post Natal Depression. It hasn’t sat well. It’s off centre, like a pendant too heavy on a delicate chain. Swinging, useless, lopsided and ugly. The wrong label. A little bit off. I couldn’t really explain it, but my heart was saying no. And then I remembered that I’d been there before. In the early days after my son was born, and they told me I had PND and I argued, and they told me over and over again that I was wrong. Back then I stuck to my guns, and those around me who knew me best agreed. Not depression, something else. Something far too complicated to deal with maybe. And so this time, too, the label doesn’t quite fit, and I’m not the only one to believe it.
With my first Think Positive counselling session behind me, I am more assured and more confident that I have not lost all sight of myself. I don’t know why a professional opinion on the state of my mental health means more than my own, but it does. We’re in agreement: post natal depression doesn’t sit right because it’s not right. I’m not depressed. I’m not.
Post Natal Anxiety is my label now, and its of no great surprise at all. And so I am learning to talk about the things that make me anxious, and the reasons why they do. The hope is that I learn to deal with them in a different way, and re-learn how to think positively and with a clearer, more rational response.
I am at the beginning.
I cannot see the end of this tunnel.
No light, not yet. (more…)
When my son was born, the first few days were fairly horrific. I was only going through the motions, pretending to be a parent when inside I was dying. Inside I was crumbling, withering, cracking, splintering. I was simply unable to process what had happened- not difficult since I’d been forcibly (and without my knowledge) sent to sleep through what should have been one of the most amazing events of my life. Instead, almost seven years on and I am still suffering the after effects of this event. In one of my last posts I wrote about being diagnosed with post natal anxiety and possible depression, linking back to my son’s birth and triggered by Elsie’s stressful pregnancy. It’s all a bit of a mess. And the one question I was asked, again and again- and am still asked today- is this: Are you going to make a complaint? I didn’t. I stayed silent.
I don’t know whether this was the right thing to do or not. I’ve written about this before, and I still am unsure about whether or not it would have made any difference. What nags at me is the fact that if I had spoken up, fewer subsequent mistakes may have been made with other women. But if I had spoken up, what would it have been like for me and my family, having to re-live it all again so publicly? Re-living it at all was bad enough, in the dead of night with my loved ones sleeping around me. The thought of doing it in a cold, stark room filled with strangers made me want to shut down completely.
So I didn’t complain. I stayed silent. And in seven years I still have not really spoken about what happened. I’ve written, here and in other places. But I have not been able to talk out loud. That needs to change. That will change as I prepare to speak about my experiences at the Women’s Voices conference in October, and a Birth Trauma conference in December. I will find the strength from somewhere, and I will share my story. (more…)