Mental Health Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK

1

Volunteers’ Week Spotlight: VICTORIA

“I have supported probably over 100 people now via the helpline and this makes me feel great that I can listen to and support others going through a tricky time.”

Victoria is our brilliant and talented phone line support volunteer.

1) Please tell us about yourself?
I am Victoria from south Manchester with partner Rob and twin daughters Emily and Grace. I am Re-training as a person centred counsellor at the moment and due to qualify in September 2018. I love being with my family, friends, eating out, cinema, theatre, travelling abroad.

2) How did you hear about PANDAS and what made you want to join as a volunteer?
I am not quite sure now how I heard about PANDAS but as a I was re-training as a counsellor I wanted to gain some experience volunteering for a mental health charity and PANDAS seemed the perfect choice as I had struggled with PND myself after having my twin girls so it was an area that interested me massively and I wanted to support others going through similar experiences.

3) What is your role and what do you do?
I am a telephone support worker and take calls from all kinds of people mums, dads, grandparents, friends, work colleagues etc – all people needed either support or advice about Postnatal depression (PND.) I volunteer one day per week and have been doing so for the last three years. It fits in perfectly for me as I can work from home taking the calls and usually use the time to crack on with college work while waiting for calls to come through.

4) Please tell us how you have supported someone?
I have supported probably over 100 people now via the helpline and this makes me feel great that I can listen to and support others going through a tricky time. I often find when a caller first comes on they are usually quite upset and distressed. It is clear the person is having a difficult time and making the call has been a big step for them. It is not long into the call that it is evident that having someone to listen to them, talk to them and let them know they are not on their own going through PND that the caller tends to become much calmer, more in control and more able to cope with their situation going forward. I offer a listening ear but I also signpost people to relevant organisations such as Pandas support groups, their GP for counselling or other support. I often find that people who seem to be struggling the most have had traumatic births, have little support around them such as family and friends and have had issues with depression before. We talk about how small changes can be made to their lifestyle so they can cope better with having a baby or small children, such as exercise, joining baby groups, having time out from the baby, talking to others or calling the helpline for support. I also like to encourage callers by telling them they are doing a fab job as being a mum or dad is one of the hardest jobs in the world but it does get easier!

5) And finally…
I love being a volunteer. I feel valued and I find supporting others rewarding and fulfilling. To hear on the helpline that you helping people to feel listened to and resolve an issue is great. I feel volunteering for PANDAS has enhanced my counselling skills considerably and given me a greater understanding of PND and how vital it is that it is taken seriously and people are given the right support.

0

Volunteers’ Week Spotlight: CAROLINE

“One day I hope to be a kind, competent midwife somewhere in the East Midlands, and I think the work I’ve done with PANDAS and what I’ve learnt will definitely help me to be empathetic and more aware of perinatal mental health.”

Caroline from the East Midlands is our kind and passionate social media volunteer. We are proud to have Caroline as part of our team.

  1. Please tell us about yourself? 

I’m Caroline, from the East Midlands. Mum of two and married to a teacher. I’m currently a social media and PR professional but also attend college as I am retraining as a midwife and start university in September.

2) How did you hear about PANDAS and what made you want to join as a volunteer?

I decided to volunteer for PANDAS because I have supported friends through postnatal mental health issues and had seen that getting the right support makes a lot of difference. It was also helpful for me to get relevant work experience for my application for university and mental-health in pregnancy / postnatally isn’t always covered in much depth at university so it was a double-whammy, in terms of me wanting to volunteer. When I saw the role of social media volunteer advertised, it was perfect for the skills I use in my day job too so I applied straight away.

3) What is your role and what do you do? How does it work around your family and home life/other jobs/commitments?

I am a social media volunteer for Pandas, and that means that one day a week I look after our social media accounts, posting motivational and informative content to our audience. I also provide support to service users who get in touch over social media, and signpost them to our other services if they are looking for 1-2-1 support. I work 2 days a week, go to college 3 days a week and have my children at weekends and school holidays, but because of the fact you can access social media anywhere, I manage to volunteer around these commitments. I will schedule posts to go out, so I don’t have to remember to do it during a busy work day, and I will make time throughout the day to check messages and post comments and responds to questions and requests for support.

4) Please tell us how you have supported someone?

Although the main role of a social media volunteer is to signpost service users to our helpline, email support, support groups or FB closed group, on numerous occasions I have had lengthy chats with service users over Facebook messages, building rapport and supporting them when they’re feeling that they are struggling. Often, I can see that it’s helpful to them to know that someone is listening, is there and cares. I know that I can’t make someone feel better on my own, but if I help them know that they aren’t alone, that support is out there and that things will improve, that makes it all worthwhile.

Also, increasing our social media following and engagement levels is really rewarding, knowing that people like what we do, feel boosted by our posts is lovely.

5) Please tell us how donations, support and fundraising help the foundation?

Everything we do is run by volunteers, but we still need funds to be able to offer our services. I know that the volunteers on the helpline and email support do a fantastic job and it would be great if the face-to-face support group team had more resources to set up groups in locations where we aren’t currently, to make those services more accessible to more parents.

Also, I think that we could expand our range of digital services to suit how some people like to access support – kind of like an online chat function that’s private, as some people feel nervous about calling in.

I’d also like us to be able to support the people who raise funds for us more – with branded tshirts etc to show to the world that they’re supporting us 

And finally…

One day I hope to be a kind, competent midwife somewhere in the East Midlands, and I think the work I’ve done with PANDAS and what I’ve learnt will definitely help me to be empathetic and more aware of perinatal mental health.

2

Lucien’s Marathon

1) Please tell us about yourself?

My name is Lucien, 32 from France. I have been living in the UK with my wife Alix for almost 10 years and consider myself more English than French! Our son Oscar is 2.5 years old. I work in sports marketing, and apart from running, I enjoy sports in general, music and film.

2) Please tell us about your marathon?

My marathon was Sunday (9th April) in Paris. I’ve been training hard for the last 6 months, gradually building my training regime. I only started running 1 year ago, after 31 years of hating it!

3) Please tell us about your experiences of perinatal mental health and why you are supporting PANDAS?

It wasn’t something my wife and I were ready for. I don’t think anyone can be. But in my case, I had a misconception of what it meant. My wife was ,and still is- one of the strongest persons I know, and when it started few weeks after our lovely boy Oscar was born, I think both of us actually fooled ourselves into thinking it wasn’t that. It couldn’t be. She was just tired and it would pass. But it didn’t. Things worsened, to a point where I was fearing for her safety. Never our child’s. Remarkably and bravely Alix decided to get help and it was the best decision she could take.

I remember feeling this complete sense of being useless. I am used to making her feel better after 14 years together and I know what to say when she’s down. But this wasn’t “like before.” And we now know this isn’t something you can get out of without the help of professionals. This doesn’t make Alix, or anyone seeking help weak or weaker. Actually for me realising this is beyond your control and requiring professional help is a sign of strength. Alix received the help she needed from NHS professionals, who were absolutely amazing. But we wish at the time we’d known about PANDAS.

4) How can supporters follow your marathon and sponsor you?

I’m starting on Sunday around 08.55 UK time, and you can track me (my race number is 71199) here: https://track.rtrt.me/e/ASO-PARISMARATHON-2018#/tracker You can support me (and PANDAS of course) by donating on my page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LucienBigois

5) Finally is there anything else you would like to add? 

To people reading this at that crucial point when you do not know if you, or a loved -ones is suffering from perinatal mental illness, and think it will go by itself, please do seek help. If nothing else ,you will get the chance to have a chat than can be more powerful than you think.

Thank you for reading and I hope to make PANDAS proud. I won’t set the timer on fire – but I’ll do my best.

Lucien is running a marathon in Paris on Sunday to raise funds for people suffering with perinatal mental health. We would like to say a huge thank you to Lucien for sharing his family’s story and for having the strength to train for a marathon.

4

Will’s Marathon

Meet our fundraiser, Will from East Sussex. Following the birth of his first child, Will’s wife Shauna suffered with post traumatic stress and post natal depression. Will has been training non-stop for an almighty marathon in Hastings in tough weather, all in aid of PANDAS. Please read Will’s amazing journey and how to sponsor him below!

Please tell us about yourself?  

I’m Will. I’m 33, and live in Worthing on the Sussex coast with my wife Shauna and two kids, Nova and Nate. Shauna and I have been married for almost 5 years now and Nova is 2 ½ and Nate is almost 5 months.  I love nothing more than hanging out with my family and taking them out to places that excite them. Each weekend we enjoy swimming at our local gym and we also like walks in the South Downs and visiting local farm attractions. 

As I’m originally from Devon I have a love for the sea and enjoy sailing, fishing  and running.  

Please tell us about your marathon? 

I’m running the “Hastings Half Marathon” East Sussex coast this Sunday, the 18th March 2018. Weather forecast has predicted that it’s not going to be warm! Reported that it could feel like -7° with a 30mph north easterly wind gusting up to 50mph with a slight chance of snow! 

At the time I decided to do the marathon it didn’t seem that daunting, but as my training has progressed it has become clear that it is actually a big undertaking for someone who had not done a huge amount of running. 

My training has gone well but not as well as I had hoped. Trying to fit in the shear amount of training around work, family and a 4 month old baby has been a challenge but I’m feeling positive about the race.  

Please tell us about your experiences of perinatal mental health and why you are supporting PANDAS with your fundraising? 

Following the birth of Nova, my wife suffered birth trauma, post natal post traumatic stress and depression. It was a very difficult time for us as a new family and it isn’t something that you expect to happen because you very rarely hear anything about it, until you’re in it. 

There are two main reasons I wanted to try to raise some money for PANDAS. One is that there seems to be a lot of misconceptions surrounding perinatal mental illnesses and not many people, such as family and friends really know how to help. The second is that in a way we were in a lucky situation because Shauna is a qualified psychotherapist so she already had knowledge about this area. I can only imagine how scary it must be to not have any clue as to what is happening during a time that is socially regarded as being one of the happiest moments in your life.  

Based on this I think the work PANDAS does is so important to such a large number of families and it needs to be more widely acknowledged. Hopefully my contribution may help in some small way. 

How can supporters follow your marathon and sponsor you? 

You can follow my journey on my Instagram account @willbeare and I also post on Twitter @Echo_Will and Facebook. So far I have managed raise over £600, which is incredible and the support all my family and friends have shown is overwhelming. If you would like to donate,  no matter how big or small, I have a fundraising page on Virgin Money Giving – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/WillBeare. 


Will has also for the last 10 years been building his video production company, “Echo Video” which is based in Brighton, East Sussex. Producing corporate and promotional videos for a wide range of businesses, from local artisans to multi-national organisations, we offer a full in-house service so we can take a video from conception right through to final delivery even if that involves time-lapse photography and aerial filming from helicopters and drones. Our website is www.echovideo.co.uk if you would like to find out more about us. 


If you would like to fundraise for PANDAS please do not hesitate to get in touch with our fundraising team! www.pandasfoundation.org.uk  

4

A Not-so Traditional Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, historically, is a day for children to appreciate their mothers and all that they do for them. Slowly, like many of these seasonal events over the years, this has become commercialised and now for many the pressure of ‘fulfilling’ the glossy-magazine, smiley, happy, room dressed in walls of flowers – just never quite happens.

Many mothers have children who don’t even know the meaning of Mother’s Day. And there are also children who do not have mothers. Many mothers are single and don’t have that one person who can rush out to Clintons and bring back a ‘I LOVE YOU’ teddy bear. And many Mums, like the mums that are supported through PANDAS, are mums with perinatal mental health illness. Depression, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, to name a few. The energy consumed with this means that we are tired. Exhausted and drained by our thoughts, let alone once the day starts (if we haven’t been up all night already!) So, Mother’s Day for some can just be another huge burden that we can’t perform to on that day.

“JUST ONE PICTURE for Instagram!” I screamed at my equally exhausted husband, 3-year-old and wailing 6-month-old baby. With a full stream row over the top of the babies crying I sat in a heap on the floor and wept. I didn’t know why I was crying? Was it because we wouldn’t make it to our harvester Mother’s Day lunch, was it that my kids weren’t hanging off my ankles telling me how much they appreciate my efforts. Or was it that I couldn’t put a selfie on Instagram displaying my proud mother hen moment in my nest? On that day I hated Mother’s Day. And then, my 3-year-old wiped my cheeks and said, ‘Love you mummy’ and that was my moment to feel proud, it made my day. – Sarah

Social media and commercialisation are two of the biggest contributors to mental health in parents when considering things such as Mothers or Father’s Day. Constant marketing and promotion of what we ‘should’ be doing in an idealised world cannot be helpful to the many parents out there suffering with PND. One women kindly spoke to us about her traumatic experience over Mother’s Day two years ago.

Clair and her husband were visiting family with their newborn baby. Whilst the family cooed over the baby, Clair felt disconnected and isolated from her baby. On top of her stress she started to feel physically unwell and assumed a cold was on its way. Clair started to deteriorate and soon went downhill. Being rushed to hospital by her husband, it was confirmed that Clair had an acute case of Mastitis (Swelling of the breasts). Sore and in pain, Clair felt relieved to be away from everyone for the night whilst hooked up to a drip. She felt safe and looked after. She didn’t have to join in with happy families and she didn’t have to smile.

The next day was the morning of Mothers Day. Clair was discharged and went home into the arms of her husband. There he gave her her baby, and a small gift. And inside two little foot prints of her baby boy. Whilst she wanted to feel tears of joy, she felt nothing. Cold and numb. Clair bravely smiled at her husband and baby and got through Mother’s Day wishing it was over. All she wanted was her baby to display something. To give his mummy some real visual live feedback, but it wouldn’t happen.

Since then, Clair’s experience of Mother’s Day has improved year by year. Now approaching her third Mother’s Day Clair wants to have a day of no expectations, and just embrace the day.

For some, its our first ever Mother’s Day and we want to have our flowers and breakfast in bed moment. But for others, this can be a cruel reminder of not being a parent. wanting to be a parent or for some like Annie wanting to be a better parent and ticking the boxes.

We must remember that children don’t remember presents, they remember presence and even if you are having the worst day you could be, a child’s love is unconditional. It is ok to feel sad, it shows children how to accept emotions.

Every mother out there is doing their best. And that includes you, reading this.

Words – Annie Belasco
Contributor – Clair Priestley

PANDAS are here to support you. If you need a listening empathetic ear we are open 24-7 with our email services info@pandasfoundation.org.uk

or you can call us between 9-8pm on 0843 2898 401 Calls cost 6p per minute plus phone company’s excess.

20

Bodies Beyond Babies

Rachael Jennings, 31 from Doncaster is a proud mum to baby Nell. Rachael experienced pre and post natal depression and anxiety with her first child. Rachael is now on a mission to campaign for better and more perinatal support services.
 
 
Rachael started the calendar campaign after feedback from mothers that they were encouraged to “bounce back” after having a baby. Her aim? To support PANDAS by raising money and awareness, while celebrating the variations of “normal”; of the post baby body.
 

Rachael is also a baby massage and pregnancy yoga instructor, as well as PGCE and Early Years Professional. 

 
She says “I am incredibly proud of the mums who have taken part in the calendar and the supporting team. I plan to continue to work hard in breaking the silence around PND and help others to find self-love.”
 
12

When PND Stole Me Away From Nellie and My Family

This post contains references to infant loss and hyperemesis gravidarum, and may be upsetting for some.


Elation – that’s what you will feel when you give birth so you can forget about the nine months of HG sickness, depression and anxiety, the bleeds and fluid loss; not to mention my baby not moving regularly. This was just the start of my journey.  

I had lost two babies previously, got pregnant by accident with the third and could never bring myself to acknowledge that I was pregnant – I was filled with anxiety and worry and a sense of loss that I would most definitely give birth to another dead baby. This was teamed with a sense of guilt and horror of my previous miscarriages. I didn’t get help to move past them, and with the awfulness of wanting to just be dead because I felt so ill during this pregnancy, it played with my mind body and soul and there were times when I just didn’t want to be, let alone have a baby. 

And that is reality of PND – I would never think that it was real, so I tried to carry on with my normal life of working in the city of London; being sick on numerous platforms and on people on the tube, fainting and getting carted off to hospital at least every week so they could pump me full of vitamins and fluid just to get my arse out of bed of a morning. I looked pregnant but never felt the joy of it. To me it was just a horrific process that was going to end in tears and heart ache when I’m told  again I won’t be taking a baby home. 

And that stuck to me. I didn’t pack my bag until the last minute and took minimal items for the baby. I never actually considered names seriously, I took no part in putting the room together and placed only small baby clothes in the drawers, still in their packets as I just couldn’t see how this was ever going to happen.  

I suffered with HG (hyperemesis Gravidarum). I have many stories about how this made me want to just curl up and die. Now, looking back, the thing was I had the nose of a trained police dog – I could smell what you had eaten or drank days before. On one occasion on the tube it all ended in carnage: Contestant number 1, who smelt like they had been drinking after work (very jealous). This made the bile enter my throat! Contestant number 2 who clearly worked in a Chinese restaurant made me want to smash down a chicken chow mein but that brought the bile and food up into my mouth. Contestant 3 who had their armpit in my face just smelt of complete and utter smelliness and the sick was there ready to go – then Contestant  4 got on the train and smelt like a smoking room. Now, I liked the smell of smoke during my pregnancy as I was an ex smoker but this was enough for me to projectile, exorcist style, over a whole carriage of people. Now don’t get me wrong, I would be angry, but the abuse I got meant I just had to get off the train. It started and didn’t stop and I wildly shouted back “I’m pregnant, you idiots!” as the train pulled off. I retreated to being sick at the end of the platform and was swiftly told to remove myself and asked how much I had been drinking! (I wish) “I’m pregnant,” I kept saying and was escorted to the police office were I proceeded too cry and tell them I need an ambulance not police to arrest me as was about to faint and could not stop being sick in the tube station bin!  

These type of incidents happened often and got me down down down to the point I just didn’t want to be pregnant, but I got filled with guilt because of the losses I had suffered before.  

I was told at 25 weeks there was a high chance I wouldn’t make it the whole way through and this thought just consumed me. It brought what I can only call the cloud of depression on me, and it stayed and rained on my parade 24 hours a day.   

Laura was gone, she was a nothing; just an extremely sick mother-to-be who could not acknowledge the pregnancy let alone the birth. After two days of pain, drugs, crying, sickness, temperatures and pushing I finally gave birth to my baby girl but again coldly didn’t acknowledge her birth and started acting out of sorts afterwards – wanting to see my placenta, reverting to making jokes about the labor and telling them to stitch me up and do a good job. 

PND had stolen my sense of identity. I didn’t know who I was and just could not acknowledge I was a mother. I could only see this robotic person who had to act happy through the dark cloud that had descended upon me. This was just the start of how PND took me into its arms and didn’t let go for two years, essentially taking me away from my Nellie and my family.  

 by Laura 


 

About Laura: 

This is my journey, and my blog. Publishing this is to help in my recovery but also to educate and let everyone know out there the truth about Peri and Post natal depression and how real it is and just how that has taken over my life for the last few years. 

I am a 34 year old normal working professional (well nearly back to work) who has been thrown head first into this unknown world of depression. Starting long ago when I lost 2 babies and building again when I was pregnant with Nellie and now I am ready to share my stories and journey in the hope that it will help others to seek help and reach out in their time of need.  

Post and Peri Natal depression​ / PTSD and Anxiety is a dark dark place and is not always recognised as an illness but it is. It takes hard work, therapy, strength, highest highs and lowest lows to get to the point of recovery but it is achievable. Don’t feel alone – reach out and just say “I need help.” Easy for me to say now but I wish I did it sooner. 

 I want to ensure that you know this is a funny crazy and light hearted blog with some deep and dark emotions involved so please do not be offended or think bad of what’s written. It is the truth, it’s my story in my own words.  

 So to everyone who is going to follow me and my journey please read, cry and say goodbye to PND together with me!

Follow Laura on Instagram

Follow Laura on Facebook

Laura’s Blog 

 

Raja Conference
4

The Good Practice of Care Conference

PANDAS Foundation are delighted to be supporting The Good Practice of Care for Women with Mental Health Conditions during Pregnancy Conference, being organised and Chaired by Mr Raja Gangopadhyay, Consultant Obstetrician, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The conference aims at enriching attendees knowledge of Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) conditions, and lecturing experts will be covering :

– Overviewing mental health problems in the perinatal period,
– The effects of maternal mental health conditions on fetus and pregnancy outcomes,
– Interventions to mitigate risks and Care Planning in pregnancy.
– Principles of using the medication in the pregnancy and breastfeeding.
– Tokophobia and traumatic birth.

The conference is being held on the 23th June from 9-5pm at the International Hotel, Wembley, London with all proceeds from the conference being donated to PANDAS Foundation.


PANDAS Foundation has been providing peer to those directly and indirectly affected by pre and post natal depression since 2012.  PANDAS service users are supported by volunteers through a dedicated helpline, local support groups, email support and closed Facebook groups. The majority of volunteers have had first or secondhand experience of these terrible illnesses and now having recovered, are passionate about giving their time to help support those going through similar circumstances.

Volunteers, providing peer support are trained in peer support and safeguarding protocols and are fully DBS checked.

If you are interested in hearing more about PANDAS services please contact us directly on :

Speak Out

 by Emma Louise at Even Angels Fall

Having lived with depression since the age of 12, with my triggers being linked to times of pressure and stress (I was first diagnosed after the death of my beloved grandad), I guess it was fairly inevitable that I suffered with both prenatal and postnatal depression with all three of my children.
The first time that I realised I had postnatal depression was with my eldest child when he was only a few months old. I was around my mum’s house with him and, after a build up of emotions and feelings of helplessness, I told her he would be better off living with her and I ran out into the road. She followed me, brought me inside and calmed me down and the next day I booked myself an appointment with my doctor.
Over the next few years my depression ebbed and flowed, with the birth of my daughter triggering things again. I built myself up online to sound like superwoman, cooking, cleaning and even baking cakes the day after giving birth, but behind closed doors my relationship was shaky and I was falling apart. I became an expert at faking a smile.
Now 27 years old, with a failed marriage behind me, now with a loving partner and my youngest son aged 4 months, I have a slightly been there done there attitude when it comes to depression. I’ve tried both counselling and medication, and both have worked for me at different points in my life.
There’s no shame in going onto antidepressants. I was on them when I fell pregnant with my youngest, and I slowly weaned myself off of them during my pregnancy, although I was assured I could stay on them if I needed to as ultimately my health and mental wellbeing was key.
The best advice I have ever had is not to be ashamed to speak out and let people know how you’re feeling. Your friends and family can’t necessarily help you, but just having their support, and not suffering in silence is a huge step in the right direction. A big misconception is that if you speak to your doctor about postnatal depression you may risk your baby being taken from you. This is not true at all, and please don’t let fear stop you from getting the help and support you need.
This time round I self referred myself to the Steps to Wellbeing service after my depression had me catapulting between bouts of uncontrollable crying and resembling a robot, lacking any emotion. I had a telephone assessment which resulted in being referred to a specialist counselling team in my local area.
I don’t feel I’ve gotten to the root of my depression before and am hopeful that this will help to not only mask the symptoms, as I feel I have in the past, but to battle my inner demons and ultimately get better not just for me, but for my partner and for my kids.
People have told me that I’m strong before and, although I don’t feel it, I guess I am. Having lived with depression for over half my life I feel it’s a part of me now, but I’ve not let it take over, I’ve not let it win. This illness is horrible, something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but I can beat it, and you can too.

The Rush of Love

Guest Blog By Anna from Biscuits & Baby Wipes

 

When my eldest, Theo, was born two years ago, I felt everything I was meant to as he was placed straight into my arms after the birth. He was our very much longed for baby and I had spent a lot of time throughout my pregnancy bonding with my bump. I would sing to him, bought expensive massage oils and spent a lot of time visualising him.

We didn’t find out what we were having but I just knew he was going to be a boy. I felt as if I knew him inside out from the moment we locked eyes on each other. I felt totally overwhelmed by the strength of my love when I held him that first time. It’s such a cliche but I honestly thought my heart might burst. I instantly felt ridiculously protective of him and hated anyone else holding him, even my husband. I breast fed him for the first few months and he was a hungry baby, so we were literally glued to one another.
Being one of two girls, I never witnessed a mother-son relationship first hand. I had assumed Theo would naturally have a closer bond with Zac and I would become a bit of an onlooker. So our exceptionally close connection took me totally by surprise.
Things with our second child, Daisy, couldn’t have been more different. I didn’t get that rush of love. Sounds brutal, I know, but I think I might finally be in a place where I can put this experience into writing.
I won’t go into the gory details but we had one weak moment over Christmas 2015 and all of a sudden we were expecting another baby. I remember feeling terrified and went into a total panic. More than anything I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. How could I do this to Theo? He wasn’t even one yet. I suddenly felt as though the countdown had begun, ticking down the little time we had left together before an intruder would ruin everything.
I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. I know I should have felt happy and so fortunate to be in the position I was in. I know there are couples who would give anything to have a child and another on the way. I can’t imagine the unbearable pain they must feel. This made me feel incredibly ungrateful and a pretty shitty human being.
I felt indifferent at the 12 week scan. Then at the 20 week scan I convinced Zac that we needed to find out what we were having. This wasn’t the original plan as I loved keeping it a surprise with Theo, but I had hoped that knowing the sex would help me to bond a bit more with my ever expanding bump. It didn’t. I bought one pink dress as I felt that’s probably what I should do then carried on ignoring the situation. I saw my midwife appointments as a massive inconvenience. I would get so excited about going to them the first time around. I tried to act excited when I heard the heartbeat but I still felt nothing.
Then Friday 23rd September arrived and I went into labour. It was 3am and my mum had just arrived to look after Theo. I went into Theo’s bedroom and gave him a kiss goodbye as he slept. I wept as I realised our time together as a twosome was over. I had spent the last 8 months dreading this moment. My contractions were very close together by this point so I quickly left the room and closed his door behind me.
An hour and a half later at hospital, Daisy was born. Zac got the first cuddle whilst they repaired the damage down below (childbirth is so bloody undignified!). I felt numb but so excited to hold her and to finally feel that connection I had been waiting for all year.
Zac handed her to me and.. nothing. I felt like I was holding someone else’s baby. I knew I loved her deep down, but that overwhelming connection just wasn’t there. When I held Theo I felt like I had known him my whole life. I think I expected Daisy to be the spitting image of him but they couldn’t have been more different. Theo looked a bit like Phil Mitchell and E.T’s love child. Daisy had a head full of jet black hair and such beautiful dainty features. She was a stunner, that much I could appreciate. I held her for a few minutes, then handed her back to Zac telling him I wanted to have a shower.
For the next few weeks, I fluctuated between feeling extreme guilt for turning Theo’s world upside down (in hindsight he was totally fine, the steady stream of gifts from thoughtful family and friends were a good distraction) and feeling very sad. The rest of the time I just felt numb. It all felt so wrong. This beautiful little girl should have felt like my best friend. My soulmate. My partner in crime.
I should probably have seen someone about how I felt, but I didn’t for two reasons. Firstly, I’m incredibly stubborn and hate accepting when things are less than perfect. Secondly, I had depression several years ago and refused to consider that it could ever come back again. So I just turned a blind eye to how I felt. I did what was expected of me as Daisy’s mother. I fed her, changed her nappies and washed her. But that was it. I was just going through the motions without really engaging with her or trying to form much of a bond. We started giving her formula after two weeks. I was fed up with the pain and she wasn’t latching on very well. And I wanted Zac to be able to help with feeding so I could spend more time with Theo.
This went on for nearly four months. I became convinced that she preferred just about everyone else over me. Why wouldn’t she? They gave her actual eye contact for starters. I felt little bursts of love for her now and again, like when she smiled or laughed, but it was nothing like the overwhelming emotions I felt for Theo.
Then a couple of weeks ago everything changed. Every night Zac and I alternate which of the kids we put to bed. This particular night, I was reading Theo his story. I could hear Daisy start to cry whilst Zac was trying to feed her. I gently told Theo to wait in his bed so Mummy could see what was the matter with Daisy. Zac saw me coming into Daisy’s dimly lit bedroom and told me she had heard my voice as I read Theo his story and wanted me. He’s tried saying this before, but she’s always carried on crying when I’ve held her, probably sensing my stress. I picked up her up from Zac’s arms. She instantly relaxed and snuggled into me. I felt so surprised when I realised she actually wanted me there. Zac quietly slipped from the room to finish Theo’s bedtime story. I sat down on the rocking chair and showered her with kisses and started to cry happy tears of relief. I finally felt a bond with her. I realised all this time it had been slowly forming without me realising it. All those little smiles, all those giggles and funny incidents over the past four months had built up to this moment.
Biscuits Baby Wipes PANDASToday, I feel ready to share this experience. It’s been very difficult to write as no mother wants to admit that she has felt like this. I realise I still have a way to go with Daisy, but it’s fantastic knowing we are finally getting somewhere. Putting it into writing has helped me to accept that those tricky times are hopefully all in the past. I love both my children equally and with all my heart, but I love them in different ways. I’ve had longer to get to know Theo so of course my bond is naturally going to be stronger. But I realise that’s ok because I’m still getting to know Daisy. I absolutely adore her, and I’m so excited to see what adventures life has in store for the two of us.

I picture us going for coffee together when she’s my age, perhaps with children of her own, perhaps not. We might be laughing about something silly, or she might be confiding in me about the same things that used to worry me at her age. I really hope this becomes a reality one day. But for now, I’m just enjoying getting to know my future best friend in the making.

 

Find out more from Anna at her Blog

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close