Pregnancy comes in all shapes and sizes: Mental Health with Lisa from Pass The Prosecco
Thank you to Lisa for sharing her experience of suffering from depression and becoming pregnant. It is clear from what Lisa shares that as health professionals we really need to take the time to listen to the concerns of women and their families. We need to consider the language we use as the words we use can have a lasting effect. It’s International Day of the Midwife tomorrow and the focus is very much on Midwives, Mothers, Families: Partners Forever. I wish this had been the case for Lisa.
Tell us a little about your family
I am a married mum of one to a 2 and a half year old named William, we live in Kent and he is our only child – we were told we couldn’t have children, so he was a planned accident. Due to complications we are unable to conceive naturally again but we are looking to adopt in the future.
When did it become apparent that you were suffering with a mental health problem and what was it?
I suffered Pre-Natal Depression from the day I found out I was pregnant due to what I think was the complete shock and the anxiety for the pregnancy to go well. I found out I was pregnant as I was about to be wheeled into theatre for surgery in March 2014. I was 7 weeks pregnant and had no idea. My husband had experienced a stillbirth in a previous relationship and I had been devastated when I thought I would not be able to give him the child he craved. I hated pregnancy. I hated that I could not see the baby and I was so frightened that I was completely responsible for growing this human and it triggered dreadful anxiety which manifested into OCD, and a deep depression where I could not bear to be pregnant. I just didn’t want any of it. It was fear unlike I had never known and I was in a bad way.
If you were diagnosed before pregnancy did you receive adequate support during your pregnancy from health professionals and from family/friends.
I had been diagnosed pre-pregnancy due to an underactive thyroid and had undergone counselling for my (apparent) infertility. I discussed my previous depression at my 8 week midwife appointment and it was skimmed over and discarded.
If you were on medication, did you feel that your questions regarding the medication were answered and did you feel confident with the advice given? Was it consistent?
My GP suggested I could start medication but it was not recommended; instead I was offered counselling which did not help and in hindsight I needed specialist mental health support to deal with my pre-natal depression.
How did suffering with mental illness affect your pregnancy?
My whole pregnancy was very negative. Every healthcare professional was incredibly negative and just ignored any concerns I raised. My husband even called and spoke to my midwife when I was roughly 26 weeks and said he was really scared, they said they would sort something but they never did.
How did it affect your birth experience?
Two and a half years on I still have regular nightmares about my birth experience. It was the worst day of my life and I’m no longer ashamed to say so. At 38 weeks I was diagnosed with Pre-eclampsia and Polyhydramnios and was told they thought my son would be small and to wait until I reached 40 weeks. I was told by an unsympathetic doctor that the risk of my waters breaking and my son dropping and trapping the cord and ultimately being stillborn was high and this sent me into a whole new depressive spiral.
At 39+4 my concerned midwife sent me to the hospital and requested I be delivered immediately by c-section but the hospital declined and suggested I come back at exactly 40 weeks for induction. Induction was started on Saturday 1st November 2014 and it was so frightening, every time I was examined a theatre had to be on standby and due to the excess fluid they couldn’t detect my son on a monitor. With hindsight I wish I had demanded a section much, much earlier but I was so frightened. I was told on Tuesday 4th November 2014 that I needed an emergency c-section due to concerns for my health and that of my baby as I had ‘failed to progress’ – a term I despise. The surgery itself was traumatic, I nearly died through complications and William had problems feeding but he was fine and we both ended up okay – he was a “small” 9lb!
If the problem occurred/was diagnosed after pregnancy how did it become recognised? Did you seek help yourself or did a family member/ friend prompt you to seek help?
I knew my depression had worsened when William was 10 days old. I had been readmitted to hospital due to complications and some of the comments made by midwives, doctors and others will stay with me forever. I didn’t want my baby, I didn’t want to hold him, I just wanted to run away and not one person noticed how bad I was feeling. I was forced to breastfeed and told I had to pick my baby up otherwise he would love his dad more. One nurse told me I was selfish for wanting to have a shower after my catheter had been removed and I needed to do skin-to-skin there and then! My GP was brilliant and prescribed me Citalopram after I visited her 10 days post partum. I knew I didn’t feel right and it was not just the baby blues.
How are you now?
Nearly three years on I am still completely traumatised and my depression still lurks but I am seeking help and trying to come to peace with it all. I had no support from a midwife post-birth. My health visitor I met once and she told me there was no post natal depression help available due to budget cuts. At my son’s one year check I was told I had been forgotten and they would refer me to a mother and baby service, which never happened. To this day I have not had any specialist post-natal mental health support and I have now resulted to paying privately. My experience is negative and I apologise for it being a negative read but I have come out of it all better and stronger and I want others to know they are not alone and you can turn a bad situation into a good one.
What is the best piece of advice you would give someone else?
It is okay to feel bad, it’s okay to be scared, but don’t suffer in silence. My pregnancy and first year as a mum was rough; there were some dark moments but I am stronger as a person and despite our struggles we have an amazing bond and I could not wish for a more loving son. Be kind to yourself, talk to someone, and know that you are never alone.
“Hello! I’m Lisa, a 30-something mum of one, wife, undomestic goddess and blog-brains behind Pass the Prosecco… Please.
I love to write and I generally blog about parenting, my mental health issues and food. Expect the good, the bad and the downright ugly!”
Have you read our other guest blogs this week? Check them out MrsMummyHarris and depression, Mark Williams and Fathers mental Health, Laura from FiveLittleDoves and the introduction to #MaternalMHMatters.
The Tale of Mummyhood