Tag Archives: Mental health

A shoulder to cry on

Some time after the toddler was born, I made a promise to him- and to myself- that I would do everything I could with the time I had left to make it all up to him. I needed to let him know that I was deeply, deeply sorry for letting him down when he needed me most. I needed him to know that I was sorry for not being strong enough, for missing that first hour of his life, and for failing to be the mum he needed when he needed it most. He was just a baby. He was barely four months old. He didn’t understand what I was saying and in a way, neither did I. I don’t think I had even begun to accept what had happened during his birth by that point. I certainly wasn’t feeling like a mother to him; I just knew that I was supposed to be feeling it.

Making that promise seemed like the best thing to do and I admit that even today, it weighs heavily on my mind. If  I’m tired, or he’s having a tantrum and my face won’t form a smile… guilt hits me like a bullet then. What about the promise?

When I made that promise I was grieving. Not for a person, but for something… something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.Perhaps I was grieving for that amazing birth I was supposed to have, especially after the first one had gone so wrong? Perhaps I was grieving for that little boy in the delivery room, who’s heart beat fell silent and died in my dreams? Perhaps I was grieving for… for me?

I am not the same person I was before my son was born. In many ways I am a better person. It’s taken me two long years to realise that. In many ways I know so much more about life and love and motherhood. In many ways I can now be that mother I thought I was before he was born. Perhaps I can now stop grieving for that person I was back then and embrace the new me?

These are all things I have been thinking since I left the meeting yesterday. It was the first Manchester Birth Trauma Association meeting and despite being involved in its set-up, I hadn’t actually thought much about how it might affect me. I’d bought a box of tissues, knowing that it could be emotional to talk to people who understand, or even just to talk to people. Caroline bought individual packets of tissues so that we could go home and cry too.

I didn’t cry. But I did think about that promise. I think I’m keeping it. I think I can keep it.

 

I’m glad to have a shoulder to cry on.


Is that really who I am?

Last night I had a real ‘is that really who I am?’ moment. Today I’ve apologised for being that mum. I never wanted to be that mum. I never knew I was that mum. I hope I’m not that mum again.

Sometimes we look in the mirror and the reflection can shock us; mostly we look in the mirror and see what we want to see instead.

I suppose this is all as clear as mud to you all. I’m not sure I can explain to be honest. I’m not sure I even want to either. I never said I wanted to admit to who that mum really is. I think I’ll try though.

Yesterday I saw something which I found deeply, deeply upsetting. It was a photo of a lady’s precious baby who had passed away following a traumatic birth. I hadn’t expected to see this photo, it was in the ‘wrong place’. I hadn’t wanted to see this photo- it was enough to know that this horrific tragedy had happened. It was enough to offer my thoughts and my condolences. But was it really enough?

Do I really have any right to be so upset? Why did I make this all about me? Why, instead of this poor baby’s face, did I see my own son? Why, when he was upstairs, asleep, breathing, dreaming, living? Why did I feel so surprised to realise I was fighting back the urge to be sick and tears were rolling down my cheeks? Why did I look down at my sleeping newborn, wrapped closely to my chest… why did I think thank goodness that isn’t my baby?


I’m ashamed of myself. I didn’t want to see that picture. I wasn’t prepared to see that picture. That picture is all one mum has left of her son. Is that really who I am? A mum who can’t bear to think of another mum’ s sadness? When I started this blog and met so many other mums who had been through horrific circumstances, I felt that maybe I could offer friendship and support to other women. Tomorrow, I am meeting with a terrific lady to help set up and run a support group in our area, on behalf of the Birth Trauma Association. I really hope that I can indeed offer that friendship and support after all.

Am I really that mum? Maybe. Maybe I’m just like you; maybe it hurts to witness such deep suffering in another human being. Maybe I’m just human.


What I know about Post-natal Depression

Here’s what I know about PND. People don’t like to talk about it. Did you read this fab article by Sandy on Maternity Matters yesterdaay? Her story highights my point perfectly.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, a lady in the office where I worked told me how her neighbour’s daughter had been diagnosed with PND. The entire converstation was carried out in hushed tones, so much so that I actually asked why we were whispering.

“Because she doesn’t want anyone to know

I accepted this with a knowing nod of my head and thought to myself, I hope I don’t get it, like covering my face with a tissue might make a difference. My daughter was born and I was on a high. A friend’s partner casually asked how many times I had burst into tears since she was born and I worriedly told him I hadn’t. Was that normal? Well, yes. But, also: no.

It’s confusing becoming a mother. People say its normal to feel one way but ok to feel another. You might want to cry in the first few days and thats fine but if you cry too much or for too long, thats not fine. Phew, so much to remember. The health visitor comes around with that questionaire and I became convinced that I had cheated. It would be so easy to do that. Had I cheated? Was I secretly depressed? Ridiculous, huh?

When the baby was born, I left the old me behind. I instructed my husband that the clothes that I had been wearing the night I went into labour were to go into the bin immediately and I think most of my sanity followed them. I drove myself crazy because I didn’t want to be depressed and yet I coudn’t stop crying. I was told it was normal to feel this way and that I should allow myself the time to feel sad and cry. I scraped through the questionaires each time but she kept coming back to repeat them. Maybe she thought I was cheating.

The thing is, not only was the baby’s birth a complete nightmare that I still cannot talk about without crying, but I had other stuff to deal with too. I found it difficult to adjust to having two children and had felt this way long before he was born. It had taken a while to get pregnant in the first place and that had taken its toll. I had been ill for most of the pregnancy, again that had affected my emotional state. Mainly, my son was ill. I was convinced that his birth was the reason why. Before we were discharged, the paediatrician announced cheerfully that there had been no signs of cerebal palsy and I remember the shock I felt that I had not even considered this. Actually, they had never told me they were looing for signs. His health worried me greatly and the endless sleepless nights filled with screaming seemed like they would never end. It’s no wonder I had the baby blues.

When the baby was eight months old, my GP announced that I was suffering from PND and I left his office feeling utterly ashamed. I know people close to me with the exact diagnosis and others with different forms of depression. I know it is an illness and I know that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Yet, thats how I felt. I refused to accept the diagnosis and medication was out of the question. I still believe I was misdiagnosed, because my GP did not take the time to listen to my feelings regarding the birth, but thats another post altogether.

The point of all of this is that there are taboos surrounding PND. I’m not sure how we can end this but we need to stop hiding behind shame and guilt. They won’t take our babies away, they won’t judge us… or will they?

So this is what I know about Post-natal Depression. Not many people want to talk about it or admit it. Give us a cast on our leg instead, that kind of illness won’t make us the weakest link and will alert people to our ailments. Post-natal Depression can be invisible.

 

 

*You know, you can stil vote for me in the MADs blog awards- I’m a finalist in the most inspiring blogger category. See here for more details on the other finalists in this category.


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