The week before last I watched My Baby, Psychosis and Me – part of the BBC’s season of mental health programmes. I found it extremely emotional to watch, as many people will have done, and to be honest felt like this could have so easily been me. It made me squeeze Alexandra just that little bit tighter and cuddle her for that little bit longer.
Because of my own mental health history (including a hospital admission in 2014) I attended a few extra appointments during my pregnancy where they would check how I was doing. I had come off antidepressants in November 2014 in order to get pregnant so due to the fact I wasn’t taking medication during the pregnancy and I had remained relatively well mentally, they decided I could have a ‘low risk’ birth when they saw me at 33 weeks pregnant. This meant I could have (had the physical health problems not occurred) given birth at the midwifery led unit rather than consultant led.
One of my biggest fears during pregnancy was how I would cope emotionally after the birth – I knew my mental health history meant I was more prone to post natal depression and some health care professionals spoke to me as if I was guaranteed to suffer from it. It also felt like, although I had been extremely well since being discharged from hospital, it hadn’t really been that long. I started dating Dylan just weeks after leaving, although we’d known each other for years previously, and we conceived six months into our relationship. So although I was incredibly happy there’s no way to tell how things will be long term.
When things happened the way they did, I was spoken to a lot about the emotional after effects of being unwell and in intensive care. Especially at the QE they were very keen to let me know it was entirely normal to feel a bit all over the place. And I did for a week or so while still in hospital. I was crying pretty much constantly! When I came home life was definitely very different and I didn’t quite know how to feel but I felt surprisingly well – I think most people were shocked at how well I was?
But now? Now we’re six months into our parenthood journey and life has settled into a routine. I feel an intense bond between myself and Alexandra (and Dylan of course) and feel hugely lucky not to have struggled with PND. I feel ridiculously emotional some days and I know I have changed a lot but let’s be honest, tiredness and being unwell can have a lot to do with that without adding a baby into the mix!
I feel like I’m babbling on a bit here and I don’t really know what the point of what I’m trying to say is. I feel very much like I’m trying to process my emotions at the moment and get to grips with everything that’s happened. Life (and my thoughts, my head and my worries) has changed so much beyond recognition. A lot of things about the future terrify me. But above all that, I am just immensely grateful I have my family and my friends and, by and large, my mental health has fared much better than I thought it would in all my 4am ‘worst case scenario’ pregnancy fears.
Harriet and Alexandra X