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Thursday, 20 February 2014

My Experience With Pre-Natal Depression.

I've battled my inner demons on if I should write this or not, and then realised that by not doing so, I would have become what 'they' want me to become. It will all make sense.

Pregnancy was not an easy road for me, that's no secret.
About a month into James and I's relationship, I fell pregnant, unknowingly, and I miss-carried. I didn't know I was pregnant until I found myself crippled with agony and my 'late' period intensely heavier. Emotionally, I was in pieces. I felt, and still feel like I've missed out on something so precious from just not knowing. They say you cant lose something you never had, but losing something you never knew you had, and in your eyes losing the chance to have it, is very different. I hardly told anyone, I told my Mum, but I couldn't face telling my Dad. Despite having James, who was incredible, I felt so alone and distanced myself from everyone around me. I calmed my lifestyle down and just decided to enjoy my relationship with James and move with life, or in other words I bottled it up and got on (very poorly) with it.
By November, we were living together with two of our best friends and everything seemed so carefree. On December 19th I found out I was pregnant. Both James and I were very, very drunk when I decided to pluck up the courage to tell him I thought I was. It was about 2am when I took the test and immediately called my Dad, who as per usual was very supportive but understandably thought that it wasn't the right time in our lives. My Mother on the other hand, responded to her hysterical drunk daughters 3am phone call with, 'this could have waited until tomorrow.' I don't remember much after that.
Our first decision was to have a termination, and if they allowed you to get one the day you call up, I wouldn't have Arabella today. By the time I had a consultation, it was mid January, and amid all the all day extreme vomiting and nausea I had grown quite fond of being pregnant. During the consultation they do an ultrasound and I looked at the picture whilst the woman was out the room. This little bean was all mine, and I wasn't going to allow it a chance to grow. I'd say this was when the depression started.
It wasn't until about 6 weeks later James and I went to Pret to get lunch and he said, 'do you want to keep this baby yes or no?,' yes was the answer, as in my heart it had always been, but those 6 weeks seemed the longest. Every minute an internal battle on a decision that would change our lives forever, and I was heartbroken with the guilt of considering a termination and those moments of thinking it was a good idea.

I've always unfortunately been privy to the odd spell of depression and since the miscarriage I'm quite sure it was brewing and the guilt I was feeling for initially not wanting to keep the baby just made it bubble over. The pressure from my friends and family was unbearable, it was about 50% do it, and 50% don't. I just wanted to shut off the world, and after I had made my decision I was paranoid of what people would think. So paranoid that social media was my enemy. Under no circumstances could my family or friends post anything, anywhere and they certainly couldn't tell anyone. I mean, what would all my distant friends think and the people that don't like me think? I could hear them laughing, judging and disapproving in my head and that didn't end until my best friend put a picture on Instagram when I was about 25 weeks.
My worrying and aggressive nature pushed everyone away, I was beyond irritable and it was near impossible to live with me as I decided that everyone was against me and nobody respected my decision, so our two friends moved out and we haven't seen or really spoken to them since. Two more friends moved in and quite swiftly it was clear that I couldn't carry on. I was having anxiety attacks, something I suffered with as a teenager and I was putting myself and my child in grave danger with my volatile attacks. I couldn't go to work without breaking down and shouting at somebody, or everybody.
I went to my midwife and she thought I was suffering with pre natal depression, something that is still all a bit hush hush and 'whatever.'
There was initial relief that there was something wrong and it wasn't my fault but that didn't make me understand it any more than before.
The day I found out I was pregnant I stopped drinking and smoking, I ate healthily and did everything I could to not ingest anything that could potentially harm her, I did it all by the book. Unfortunately on regular occasions the baby would stop moving or I would have crippling migraines where I would vomit blood. I went into early labour at 28 weeks (luckily kept her in until 38 with the help of bed rest) and the fear of losing her, like I had that first baby was all too real and in my head it was because I didn't deserve a child and it was the universe's way of preventing a child from a terrible mother. Now, I honestly blame all of my heath scares on the irrational emotional and mental stress that I had put myself under and had developed due to the depression.
Still to this day there's hardly any information available about it. The depression literally consumed me and my every day, and when I told people they made me feel ashamed of it, or that it wasn't a big deal. When actually it is, something changed that drove me to physically hurt myself and put my daughters health in jeopardy.
I would have killed to protect her, but yet wanted to kill myself, and pregnant women regularly suffer from this, so why isn't there more help? Why isn't there more information? Why is it such a taboo and why do we as women feel ashamed to admit something is wrong? Will it make us bad mothers?

We shouldn't feel ashamed to be scared, there's so much more to our minds that's unknown and unpredictable but we shouldn't let something like this defeat us. Writing this and knowing that people will read it makes me feel scared, it makes me feel vulnerable, I worry that people will judge me for these words but if it can help just one person then thats all that matters. I don't want anyone to feel as alone as I did during those months.

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Friday, 7 February 2014

Arabella At Six Months

This week, Arabella turned six months old. How time has flown.

This time last year, I was engulfed in depression and uncertain of the future, terrified that the decision I had made was going to be a mistake, that the baby wouldn't love me, that I wasn't going to be a good mother. I felt trapped in a job that I hated, where nobody seemed to know what a shower was and everyday I was victimised by a manager for being pregnant, the same manager who was an epileptic cocaine addict and in my opinion, manager or not, had no leg to stand on when making digs at me. 'People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' and all that, but thats all water under the bridge and I hope that he has found an inner peace and doesn't feel the need to take his pain out on others any more.
James and I were living in a shared house with a former friend of ours that made the house smell like mould and spent every night in shouting matches.

I think its safe to say, that I am so glad to say that the minute Arabella was born, my life changed for the better, and its put me on a path that can only lead to happiness.

James and I are better than ever, they say having a baby either makes or breaks a relationship and its certainly made it. In the relatively short time that James and I have been together, we have had a very unfair share of hurdles to over come and it feels like we are running through that finish line, hand in hand with a strong crowd cheering, and its all for Arabella.
Newborn babies don't do much, and Arabella was very small, in 'tiny baby' clothes and seemed so delicate, like you couldn't pick her up for fear of her tiny little body shattering into a million pieces.
Turns out, they are a lot stronger than you realise and we found that out when she gave me a swift left hook by accident and caused quite a substantial amount of pain for a little sprog.

Now at six months, she's rolling over, she has two teeth and three solid meals a day. She smiles, laughs and plays games that she makes up. She hardly ever cries and she sleeps through the night. I find myself constantly asking what we did to deserve such a beautiful little girl.

There's something very special about Arabella, maybe her eyes are the instigator but she has the power to light a smile up on the biggest sourpusses you could ever meet. She's a beacon of hope and brings untold joy to those around her. Unfortunately, one of her biggest fans, James' Great-Uncle George passed away a week or so ago and one of his last wishes was to see her, so off she went to the hospital in Leicester and held his hand and he smiled. I wasn't there but I'm told she knew it was a sad moment, she didn't cry, she just did what she knew would make George happy. Yesterday at his funeral, on the leaflet for the service, she kept grabbing the pictures at his face. Even when my late Grandmother was dying, the pictures I sent her constantly of Arabella kept her going and even though she had only met her once, she found hope from her, and now without my dear Grandmother, my Grandfather is finding a new type of hope and positivity for the rest of his life in his Great-Granddaughter.

She is truly incredible, and changing by the second. Blink and you'll miss it. I've lived a busy and spontaneous life before Arabella, and now with her and James, I embark on what I think life is really about. Family and love. What could be more exciting than that? To another six months little egg.

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