So here’s a different part to the story.
So I was in Nottingham MBU for 2 weeks. It was two very up and down weeks. But immediately when I was there I felt so much safer. I started to feel like I didn’t need to harm myself anymore. I started to feel hope. I started to feel like I wanted to live again. I still had a long way to go, but there was something there. Something was starting. However another part of my illness was anxiety.
As a parent you expect to feel some anxiety about this tiny little human you are suddenly sorely responsible for. I was very scared of many things. Feeding – was he getting enough breast milk? Was he putting on enough weight? Was he happy breastfeeding? Then there was (and still is) anxiety regarding Arthur’s health. What if he gets too hot or too cold whilst sleeping? How long should we swaddle him for, will it affect his hips? What if he’s sick whilst he’s laying down? What if he becomes unwell? My mind was like a whirlwind. The more anxiety I had, the downer I felt.
I felt like I couldn’t even go to the toilet without someone constantly watching Arthur. I couldn’t sleep. I would watch him breathe all night. Terrified of SIDs or also known as Cot death. (Still a very big fear) But it was a vicious cycle, I felt like I couldn’t put him down so I didn’t eat much, or drink. I couldn’t sleep so was exhausted and the anxiety and the low mood would just go round and round. Slowly I started to improve almost every day. With talking to professionals, the help of my partner, my family and my medication. And of course, being with Arthur.
The cuddles and the bond we continued to build on every single day would bring me so much love. He was worth fighting for. After two weeks I was moved to Winchester MBU for a further 7 weeks. Although such a short period of time in my life, it felt like forever. It felt so long and at times, very exhausting.
In our time at the beginning of Arthur’s life we battled many things. Mastitis, three times, once I was very unwell and had to have antibiotics. Rotavirus, me and Arth both had that one. Norovirus twice for Arth, once for me. We had trouble breastfeeding, he has gaining weight so well all the time, but we just couldn’t crack it. Arthur had bronchiolitis. He had to spend 3 nights on a paediatric ward, needing oxygen. I had problems with my medication. Difficulty with Arthur sleeping on his own at night. We conquered them all. Some things you would expect in those first couple of months, some you wouldn’t. But we made it.
The anxiety is still there. But I manage it much better now. My biggest tip? Stop, take a deep breath. Anxiety is a horrible thing. And so hard for other people to understand. I remember there was poster in my room on the MBU that said about safe sleeping. On their own, on their backs, in their cot. I used to read it over and over again every day. It was so hard for me because I couldn’t sleep when Arthur was in the same room as me but I also struggled to sleep when he wasn’t there. When he was there I would watch him, kept checking if he was breathing, if he felt too hot. If I drifted off I would wake with every movement he made, every little noise. I had to have medication to help me sleep. It wasn’t a sleeping tablet but it was an anti-anxiety medication. However it basically did just know me out, but I didn’t really realise this till later on. Gradually this improved and now I don’t take any medication to help with sleeping. I started to have Arthur in with me a couple of hours a night. Then a few days a week. Till gradually he was in with me all the time, he would only go out if I couldn’t settle him, which was only occasionally. Now most nights he sleeps really well and he’s always right there with us.
I remember telling my partner Jord about the poster. He grabbed the poster and threw it on top of the wardrobe. I will always remember that. It was brilliant. It really helped. I still thought about it but with it not being right in front of me all the time I could think about something else. I could put it out of my mind for a little while. Although Jord often didn’t understand my very irrational anxious rants he would try and help in any way that he could. He was and still is an incredible person.
Anxiety is a horrible feeling. It eats away at you. Although you know you are often blowing things out of portion and being irrational you can’t stop. In that moment you can’t be rational. You can’t see what everyone else can see. But know this, you can get out the other side. I did. I am living proof. I still have anxiety and with time comes all new anxieties but you can manage them. You can live with them. You don’t have to let them rule your life. Being a parent, you will have anxiety, it’s a given. It’s worrying if you don’t have a little bit of anxiety. Being a parent is scary! These mini humans always keep you on your toes. But don’t let anxiety stop you from being happy. Don’t let it stop you from making wonderful memories. That goes for whether you’re a parent or not. It goes for everyone.
There are so many things to help with anxiety. Mindfulness, distraction, facing your fears, breathing techniques. However if your reading this and you know someone who struggles with anxiety, know this; sometimes the best thing you can do for that person – Listen, give them your hand, and tell them you are there for them. Let them speak, let them cry. Just be there.
So that’s another part of our journey. Stay tuned for another round peeps.
Love, Kate x