One very common feature among people suffering from perinatal illnesses is the feeling of being alone, that they are the only ones with these feelings and emotions. Here are some stories to demonstrate how this is not the case. Everybody’s story is of course unique to them, but you are certainly not alone.
If you would like to share your story with us (your story will be completely anonymous, if you wish), please email it to us and we will share it on this webpage too.
Many thanks to all the contributors to this page – it is not an easy thing to do but I hope you have found it helpful and I know it will be helpful to those we reach out to.
When I had my little boy I was probably one of those mums who looked to the world like they have everything together. That picture perfect life. He slept through the night from 10 weeks of age much to the envy of my friends and I joked along with them at how lucky I was. We went on day trips and lovely photos of us smiling in our happy baby bubble were plastered over my social media accounts. I dutifully took him to work to show him off to my colleagues and smiled whilst agreeing how amazing my life was to everyone I met. The reality was I was falling apart. I just felt so low all of the time but everyone I met would gush “isn’t it just so amazing” or “isn’t it just the best thing ever”. How could I possibly tell them how low I was feeling?! I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel the way I was supposed to…what was wrong with me?
I was in my twenties when I had both of my children. My first pregnancy went ok, I did tear badly and ended up with many stitches, but recovered well in the end.
However, my second pregnancy was very different. Unfortunately I suffered from severe sickness throughout my whole pregnancy. I ended up in hospital a few times for them to monitor me and baby because I kept fainting and overall lost over a stone in weight.
Then the bombshell came… my midwife phoned me and asked if she could come around to see me. She told me my blood test screening came back abnormal and after much discussion with my husband we opted to have an amniocentesis. Waiting for the results was agonising and frightening, but the results came back fine.
However, in myself I was convinced that something wasn’t right because I felt so ill throughout my pregnancy and a couple of months after having beautiful Jessie I still felt something was wrong….
a warwickshire mum’s story
The Perinatal Mental Health team meant a huge amount to both me and my husband during my pregnancy. The Perinatal Mental Health team are a pretty new service to Warwickshire and we’re incredibly lucky to be able to access them. Peri (meaning around) and natal (meaning birth) means that this team are there to help you both before and after birth.
First and foremost, from what I understand, this service exists specifically to help any Mum- (and indirectly Dad-) to-be who is struggling with their emotional well-being as a result of the pregnancy. Your GP can refer you. I was referred to them as I had a history of depression and anxiety and was struggling with a number of things related to the pregnancy…
a mum’s journey
Without the support I’ve had from the perinatal mental health team, I’m not sure I’d be here today. That sounds melodramatic, but it’s true.
In December 2015, me and my husband were told by fertility specialists we were incredibly unlikely to have our own children. Finding we were expecting a child, just as we were coming to terms with a childless future was mind blowing!
Pregnancy was pretty kind to me; I had a bit of nausea, a fair bit of tiredness, the occasional bad mood day, but mostly things went very smoothly.
It was labour when things went awry.
a mum’s journey
I experienced a very long and difficult labour with the birth of my baby. It was nothing like I’d hoped or expected and was in no way natural or enjoyable. This whole negative experience was then confounded by my baby experiencing multiple episodes of apnoea which required resuscitation and a stay in special care. It was the most difficult week of my life and I didn’t leave their side for the whole time meaning I was absolutely exhausted, sleep deprived and not eating or showering myself. I was also left incontinent and taking morphine after an episiotomy.
When I finally got home motherhood was not the joyous, affirming life experience I always imagined it to be. I was left an anxious wreck and was crying constantly, not helped by my inability to breastfeed and the associated gult that left me with. I became obsessive with checking the wellbeing of my baby, focusing on checking their breathing constantly. I wouldn’t let them out of my sight and would pull the car over repeatedly just to check they were OK in the car seat. Heaven forbid I would ever actually leave them with someone else and, of course, this inevitably lead to a strain in my relationship with the baby’s father.