The emotional side of pregnancy and Child Birth
Having a baby is supposed to be such an amazing and magical time. So often, the joys and milestones are discussed, rarely are the lows and emotional moments that are often greater in occurrence.
I found out, quite early, that I was pregnant. After extreme bloating and frequent visits to the bathroom, during a trip to Brighton; something didn't seem quite right. This led to peeing on quite a few sticks... Confirmation that I was pregnant.
Whilst I never admitted it out loud, pregnancy scared me. I had met so many people who had experienced loss and difficult pregnancies, which left me to keep my pregnancy a secret from my family... until lifting my nephew (at our family Christmas) revealed that my normally flat stomach was quite rounded. Following a group WhatsApp text, that will go down in family history, the secret was out.
The combination of the fear of being a bad mum, doubting whether I could raise a baby, the responsibility to raise a tiny human into the best human they can be, the weight gain, etc. etc... Caused me to be constantly filled with anxiety, which actually led to me to "eat for two".
I found it very difficult to form a bond with my unborn baby. I'm not sure whether I was scared to form an attachment to her in case everything didn't go ok. I tried talking to my bump, which just felt awkward to me. Even the scans made me nervous, I was relieved to see she was ok, but I just thought, there's still time for something to go wrong.
My fears were elevated when standard clumsy me tripped whilst heading to the bank. I landed on my hands and knees (not my bump), but went to the Beckenham hospital to get checked over anyway. They gave me the all clear, but that night I experienced bleeding... A trip to the PRUH and a stay in hospital showed my waters had broken 6 weeks early.
My original plan, before the drama, was to have a home birth. I thought that maybe, in familiar surroundings, I'd be more relaxed. I developed an irrational fear of having to go to the hospital. I didn't want anything to be "wrong"...
A complication during pregnancy can make you feel like a failure (well it did for me anyway), as though your body couldn't handle keeping baby inside for the full growing time. It left me on alert... At the time, I just wanted baby out and with me, so I could do a better job protecting her on the outside of me. Obviously the longer inside me, the better chance she had.
Luckily I managed to protect her in my tummy for another 9 days... She was a happy healthy baby, a girl, I'd so desperately wanted a little girl.
So, she was here, happy healthy little Harper. You'd think I would just be elated, I was, I was in awe, but, I went into overdrive mode. I never sat still, I felt like I needed to do everything, like I needed to take care of everyone. I also felt like I needed to shed the baby weight as soon as possible.
It wasn't long before I got back into the gym, I ran 5km when she was just 12 days old. But I couldn't keep it up. I went through phases of trying to lose the baby weight, then going into a bit of a downward spiral. The extra weight made me feel tired and depressed. I didn't feel like making myself look nice, I didn't see the point.
I was scared of walking down the stairs with her, I was scared of her suffocating when she slept, I spent most of my time alert, until I just exhausted myself. I even convinced myself that she had a milk allergy, because I thought I had to be doing something wrong.
A lot of days I cried, some days were worse then others. I look back now and think, why didn't I talk about it? But I just couldn't at the time, if anyone asked me if I was ok, I'd just say yes.
I went back to work after just 3 weeks, so I put a lot of pressure on myself to just "get on with it". I had to be good at breastfeeding, I had to be good at multitasking, I had to be good at just doing everything really. I wasn't really one to ask for help. Maybe I saw it as failing... I can't explain much of my behaviour really.
As she developed, it made working harder, as she had more needs and slept less. I became more creative with trying to entertain her, so that I could edit just one more photo. I learnt how to breastfeed and work, but then felt like I was ignoring her. As she became more mobile... well, she was into everything! She was the happiest, most loveable bubba! It meant that I ended up working late at night, sometimes until 4am, then having to 'mum' on very little sleep. I had isolated myself from most of my friends and family because I was too busy working... it all got too much.
Now I'm getting back to myself! I've lost the baby weight, I'm forever taking Harper on trips out, and every milestone she has, fills me with joy and makes me proud to be her mummy. She'll be one soon, and I personally think that she is just the most amazing tiny human ever.
Don't get me wrong, there are still people who have tried to make me feel like a "bad mum", but sometimes, to be a "good mum", you need to get back to yourself first.
This was a hard blog for me to write, but I hope it helps someone. It's more common then you think and it's only after watching Louis Theroux's recent documentary on BBC (mother's on edge) that I decided to write it.