Tommy's guest blog by Jade from The Mother of All Adventures
A hard post to write.
Postnatal depression - can I talk about it? Can I admit I had/have it?
It almost feels like if I write down how I felt I could end up slipping back into those emotions again. A silly thought to have but a real one nonetheless.
I’ll start with when Raulfie was born.
Straight away he was admitted to the special care baby unit, stolen from my womb and put into to a box of plastic.
I couldn't touch him, smell him or even breathe his tiny breaths. I didn't have any time to think about anything else other than him getting well.
The night I got discharged out of hospital was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever had to do; leaving my poorly baby in hospital whilst I slept at home next to his empty little crib with a floating ‘it's a boy’ balloon.
Not being able to see my baby whenever I wanted broke me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I wasn’t sure how I was meant to feel, how I was meant to cope.
I had my beautiful 7 year old son who had been so brave. He understood everything that was happening and held it heavy on his heart.
I also had an innocent one year old who had no idea of this heartache. I suppose that is a good thing.
I was lucky I had the best husband around, Serks.
Serks picked me up when I was down and put up with my moods and took every rock I chucked at him. When I was sad and angry he calmed me down and when I was crying he helped me stop.
The truly amazing thing is that he still had his own emotions to deal with too; he carried us both.
Eight weeks passed; eight lonely, emotional and torturous weeks.
For me this is where it all started.
The way Raulfie came into the world, and the way he was taken into special care so fast. We patiently waited whilst counting the days.
Each day was different, a rollercoaster ride.
My preemie was growing on the outside, it wasn’t meant to have happened for us that way.
The warm air flowed inside the isolette. We constantly heard beeps from the machines in our bay.
We helped with ‘cares’, the weighing days and bathing our baby was a highlight to us.
Smelling the hand sanitiser wherever we went, hours of expressing to produce ‘liquid gold’, watching the doctor’s do their morning ’rounds’ had all became so familiar and routine to our day.
Each journey is different, each journey is unique.
We were just one of many with a baby in NICU. We had to be patient and strong for our baby.
NEVER stop believing in the miracle power of touch…
When I had baby Raulfie, I met the most beautiful mother. Her name was Leanne. Her baby boy also came 9 weeks early, just a week after Raulf was born.
Her baby was called Jimmy and she was a first time mother, we instantly made a bond and a amazing friendship.
Our babies grew stronger side by side and we had a strong support for each other.
To this day our friendship is strong and I'm blessed to call her my friend; a very special one.
Our babies will grow up together knowing their story. They too will share a bond....
Having a friend who has been there and gone through the same thing is amazing and helps so much when you’re having a bad day; my forever friend.
When the day finally came that they told me he could come home, I had an instant felling of anxiety and upset.
Is he ready to be home? Am I ready for him to be home? I suddenly felt unsettled and I couldn’t breath as I started packing his teeny hats and vests away, ready to come home.
I remember shaking and not being able to get my words out. I remember thinking to myself maybe one more week.
I couldn't believe I was thinking that, I’d been waiting weeks to hear, ‘Raulfie is ready to leave’ and now I wasn't happy. I was scared and worried.
Both Mellie and Theo were filled with excitement but not me. I was just thinking how can I do this?
When we arrived home my emotions hit a different level.
I cried all the time without a reason behind the tears and didn't feel happy.
I found it very hard to laugh or smile and I didn't want anyone to come to house to see our new beautiful baby.
I just didn't want to see anyone or have anyone touch Raulfie. I felt like no one was clean enough and that they wouldn’t be able to hold him right like I did.
I didn’t want to leave home or go outside for a walk. I remember it being 3 weeks before heading out alone without serks, I just couldn't do it.
Going from having seven year old and a one year old to three children was a real shock (for me anyway) I found it very hard to adjust.
I found it even harder to tell someone that that's was how I was feeling.
I can't explain how awful it was to have this new beautiful baby but feel so sad and anxious all the time.
I had lots of visits with a health visitor and she was there if I wanted to talk, but I found myself pretending I was ok to her,
I remember she asked me to fill a questionnaire and I put answers that I thought sounded good, how silly of me to do that. I would never do that again. If I could rewind I would have told her then.
I remember the very first time I told Serks I had PND. He looked confused and upset, I felt awful that I put this on him.
I knew that even though he loved me, he would never truly understand how I felt but it turned out that he was the one person who really helped me get better was him; he was my strength and sanctuary.
Serks pushed me to talk and made it seem ok to let out feelings I had, good ones and awful ones.
Serks had it increasingly hard, having to work seven days a week and then come home to daddy duties and have me crying and unhappy, he was one tough cookie
My worst memory and the worst thing I said to Serks was, ‘I don't want the children, I can't do this anymore.’ It makes me feel sick to remember that now, I feel sad that I said it and I cry when I feel those words.
I will never say those words ever again in my life. My children are my world and I would do everything and anything for them. I live for them.
I remember our first family party.
I felt anxious for weeks, changing my mind on if I was going or not.
I knew Raulf would be passed around like a rag doll and that frightened me to death.
Will they be clean…do they smoke…are they drunk…
We did go and as soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by other mothers, lovely, sweet, amazing mothers.
I just broke down I felt like I needed to scream and run away.
I chose I quiet corner to sit with the baby and calm down. Serks stood by my side and waited so sweetly for me to be okay.
A mother came to me and asked to hold Raulf. She asked if I’d mind and if I was okay. I thought it over and felt sick but said yes. To this day it was the best thing I did, that moment helped me so much.
The baby was fine he didn't cry, he didn't get dirty. He stayed wrapped in his blanket looking like a small rolled up sausage. He made no sound of distress and was handed gently back to me.
A smile came and landed in my face and I felt....okay.
As if our poor baby hadn’t been through enough already, Raulf contracted bronchitis and whooping cough.
I felt to blame. I felt I’d let him down and I felt like we had gone back in time. He was fitted with a feeding tube again because he stopped feeding, seeing him with a tube again broke my heart.
I felt that I wanted to make him better, but I couldn't.
He went downhill fast. Raulfie began to gag and stop breathing he wouldn’t feed even via his tube. He was put on oxygen and sedated for a few hours.
Feeling like I had let raulf down made me think I was right all along to be so protective.
My PND was still so fresh and this set back only made me worse but our baby boy made a slow and steady recovery after just over a week on oxygen and tubes.
As Raulf became well so did I.
As I am today I couldn’t be any more in love with my children.
Yes I have days that make me cry and days where I think ‘wow, that was hard’ or ‘Jesus, what do I do now?’
But that’s motherhood in all its beauty and lets just count how many beautiful and special moments we have? How many breath-taking memories and proud moments we shared....too many to count.
I feel so blessed and lucky and overwhelmed with love for my family. I dedicate this blog post to Serks…my life and world and the most amazing father.
I’d like to say to anyone who is feeling sad or lost, just talk. Admitting you have postnatal depression doesn't make you a bad mother!
Write or draw, free your sadness and don't lock it up.
Talk to a friend, talk to your GP and just let someone know you are struggling because if you don't, who will help you help yourself?
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms that Jade describes in this piece, please take a look at our information on post natal depression.
If you are suffering from this condition it is important that you do not try to cope alone. You can read more about the types of help and support with your emotional health you can access here.
If you want to talk to someone about the symptoms or feelings you’re experiencing, our midwives are available from 9 – 5, Monday – Friday. You can phone them for free on 0800 0147 800.
You can read more from Jade at The Mother of All Adventures.