So here we are, second time around.

So here we are, what a different experience it has been. Despite going into spontaneous labour at 37 weeks I was still able to have the calm, controlled birth that I had hoped for.

The Thursday before going into labour I had a growth scan and was told baby was measuring large, particularly their belly.

After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes this was an indicator that baby wasn’t managing the diabetes very well, despite my blood sugars being well controlled.

I was always booked for a csection due to the traumatic birth that I had last time. I had seen an obstetric consultant from the beginning (a bloody brilliant one). I was consultant led for a few reasons, physically I had a third degree tear last time and lost quite a bit of blood, and mentally I had obviously had very severe PND and anxiety. So I was always consultant led.

Straightaway I was given the choice. I could have a vaginal delivery again. I would need further tests, to test my muscles to check I could Labour naturally. This included a camera probe to check my bum muscles…this was part of my reasoning for deciding not to have a natural birth. My dignity was just about intact again after everything that happened last time so having a stranger look at my bum with a camera whilst I was awake, I wasn’t too excited about this.

Also my pelvic muscles would need to be checked, more tests and probing, this just fuelled my anxiety and made me feel more apprehensive about a natural birth.

The consultant I saw for the beginning half of my pregnancy spoke about how a natural birth after a traumatic one can be quite healing. It can help you feel some closure from the past, help for you to see that it is possible to have a positive natural birth. But for me it just felt too anxiety provoking. The fear of the unknown. I won’t ever forget the absolute fear I felt during Arthur’s birth. I don’t think it’s something I will ever overcome. But this time around, this birth, it was healing in a way. I was scared but it was a world away from before.

I knew what was happening every step of the way. I knew who everyone was. I felt so much more at ease, I felt like everything was so much more controlled.

When they pulled G out, he didn’t cry, he was silent and I was terrified. No sound. But they showed us him, he was perfect, just quiet. They took him for about 10 minutes to give him some oxygen and bit of a poke. That was the first time I held my breath but he was back with us before we know it. First time with Arthur’s birth I felt like I held my breath the whole time. I felt like I was just waiting for the next thing to go wrong. I was constantly waiting for something bad to happen. I often think about it now. I don’t think it will ever completely leave me.

Despite our positive birth, heading home from the hospital after George’s birth I felt like I was just a timebomb. Just waiting for the wave. But it never came. I waited till around day 3 when my milk came in, no wave. I waited till day 5, that’s when I first felt it with Arthur, it never came. A week down the road but still, no wave. So here we are, 1 month in and still no wave. Yes there are moments. Occasional intrusive thoughts, feelings of sadness but it’s nothing like it was before, nothing even close.

I’m not sure how, but I do know taking sertraline protected me. I also know I have had an amazing support system around me, professional and personal. I know I was more prepared this time. More prepared for everything. I know so much more than I did before. I feel like it’s all less of a shock to the system.

I still often feel anxious, often about George feeding, SIDs, how Arthur is feeling. My secret for anxiety? Taking deep breaths. Something so simple which takes me back to that moment. It helps me stop thinking so much, it helps my mind slow down. So simple but really works for me. Like I said before I still have moments of feeling down, feel like everything is a bit grey, a bit dark. But these are moments, they’re fleeting, they don’t stay, they don’t linger. It’s been a completely different experience this time around. I cant praise the incredible professional support I have received enough. The support I have received from my family and friends, who are just wonderful. And those little white pills that once saved my life. Sometimes I wish I could just stop taking them, I wish I could be free of them but they saved me and they continue to save me. One day I hope to not need them. But it’s ok if I do. It’s always ok.

So here we are, second time around, a world away from the first.

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, but stay tuned for another one.

Love, Kate. X

So here we are, 2 years on.

So here we are, 2 years on. This time 2 years I was on a mother and baby unit going through the hardest time in my life. Some days were darker than others, some days I would bang my head against the wall whilst sobbing and whispering to myself “die, die, die”. Others days I could feel hope, hope that I would go home and hope that I could be ok.

I spent my days hanging out with Arth, Jord and the other patients. Watching movies and TV, going for walks and talking to the doctors. We did classes and workshops to help manage anxiety and low mood. I remember sitting in the group and we were going around saying what we were afraid of, what made us feel most anxious. I broke down and just simple sobbed, saying “everything, it’s just everything”. I was fighting everyday to get through low mood and depression but I was also in the midst of crippling anxiety. Where everything and everywhere I went posed a risk to Arthur.

It was exhausting to try and want to stay alive whilst everyday I was convinced Arthur was going to die. Cot death, childhood cancer, choking on his own vomit, dehydration, bronchiolitis, a freak accident. I was afraid of the world and I was afraid of a life without him. Often I thought about how it would be better if I wasn’t alive. How much easier it would be. How much I didn’t deserve to live and how I didn’t deserve to be Arthur’s mother. I sometimes thought of death as being “free” I think because I was just so exhausted. There are days were I still feel the tiredness from the darkest times. It’s like they are a part of me.

It’s hard to describe postnatal depression and what it does to you. It’s strange to think having a baby caused me to become unwell but having a baby also caused me to get better. Every day I would hold Arthur and he was always my light. I would smell him and listen to his noises, and he would always help by just being there. By just being him.

Times have changed in so many ways but that has always stayed the same; my love for Arthur. A feeling that is stronger than the darkness, the anxiety and the tiredness. Now 2 years on I’m on a new journey, awaiting baby number 2. The anxiety still hangs over me at times. Thinking about what I’m eating, what I’m doing. And the biggest thing as always; babies movements. But I feel so much more in control now. I can feel the anxiety brewing. I can see when I’m spending too much time sleeping. I know the triggers and what I need to do to get out of the dark spiral.

One of my biggest fears is thinking, what if I don’t love this baby as much as I love Arthur? Don’t get me wrong, the love for babe is already there but Arthur is my world. What if when they are here the feelings just don’t compare? What if, I don’t feel the same rush of love I did with Arth? Because what if, what happens last time happens again. I need that feeling of pure love to help get me through.

But there’s not much I can do now right now. I can prepare. Preparing for depression sounds super depressing am I right? (Excuse the pun). I can have all the things in place if something does go wrong. I know the signs and I’m hoping if it does, I will be able to seek help earlier, before I can only see the way out as being taking my own life. Way, way before that.

Most importantly I have the people I need around me. As always Jordan and my family. The ones who know what really happened, who cried beside me and held my hand. My friends who visited me and know what happened but still love me for me. Who never judged and still treat me the same. The professionals who know my past and are there to help protect my future. And lastly, my support from this blog, my instagram, my writing.

So here we are. 2 years on. So much as changed but yet, so much is the same.

Here’s to 2020. I hope it brings you all health and happiness.

Love, Kate. X

So here we are looking back.

So here we are, reflecting on everything that happened, is it strange to say I had some good times on two mother and baby units? With my family and with my friends. And with the other families, as we all went through similar experiences. Of course, I sadly remember the darkest times like nightmares, their embedded in my brain. But there were good times too, there were positives.

Times when I could laugh and smile, I could almost forget for a moment what was happening and where I was. We all got takeaway one night, we sat round the table and laughed and joked. For an outside looking in, we could have been a group of friends having dinner together at someone’s house.

When one of us was particularly unwell we were there for each other, we left each other notes outside doors, cards and chocolate. Little things, but they make a big impact. We could all understand, to an extent, how a bad day could feel like you’d been hit by a bus. We supported each other, we were there for each other.

My family came to see me, they too were always there. We went for walks and laughed and talked. It felt strange because I never wanted them to feel down, I never wanted them to feel sad. With every day and every goodbye, I always felt guilty. It was a feeling that was always there. They were going through it just like I was and I felt like it was all my fault. Of course, now I know it wasn’t my fault. But I will always feel sad about what I put them through.

But we would talk about how I was feeling, how things were going. They were always at the end of the phone and there was always moments of happiness. My friends too came to see me and I realised how truly wonderful they really are. How they accepted me and what I was going through.

I was terrified they would see me differently, terrified they would think bad of me. Of course they didn’t. It felt like everything was the same. We laughed and we took pictures. We smiled and they made me feel like me again. And all these moments were there. Lots of moments and memories I look back and smile, they were on those Mother and Baby units.

We moan about the NHS and shout about the lack of mental health services. How cuts are being made left right and centre. But don’t forget to shout about the good too. Because they will have to listen. Right to your MP, your local hospital, your local newspaper. If you have had a good experience celebrate it.

I know mental health services are struggling right now. I know I may not be here right now if I didn’t have the help from two mother and baby units. Which is why we need to talk about how they incredible they are. There needs to be more available. The NHS is wonderful, but of course it’s not perfect (nothing ever is). But I always remember the good, I will always share it, I always talk about how I think we can improve.

The staff on both Mother and Baby units were second to none. They held my hand, (literally and metaphorically) their words still echo in my brain when I’m having a bad day. Their teaching and techniques are what got me through and are still getting me through.

Stay tuned for another one. Sorry they are few and far between, life with an almost 2 year old is pretty busy.

Love, Kate. X

So can we do better?

So when I tell people what I do, I feel so proud, I smile and feel like the NHS is my baby that has just said their first word (weird analogy but you get the gist). That doesn’t mean I think the NHS always gets it right, because I don’t think they do. After all, no one or nothing is perfect, it’s impossible. But I do think the NHS is a wonderful organisation. It’s stretched, we who work for it are often stressed and personally, being a nurse is hard work physically and mentally.

But looking back on my own patient experience. I received incredible care. That’s not to boast, that’s to hope one day everyone will. It’s to talk about the good and celebrate it but more importantly learn from it. I went into A&E at around 8pm on Sunday evening. I had a midwife appointment on the Monday where me and Jordan had agreed I needed to tell her how I was feeling. But by Sunday evening I had decided I couldn’t manage any longer and if I didn’t receive help I was going to kill myself. I stayed in A&E till Wednesday evening. Usually you stay in A&E for a max of 4 hours until you are either sent home or sent to another department or ward of the hospital or another organisation. Within those 4 hours treatment needs to be decided.

Within 4 hours treatment was decided for me, but there were no beds available in the country on a mother and baby unit. Winchester had some but they had a policy that babies had to be over a month old and Arth was around 3 weeks. I stayed in a room for those 3 days with Jord, Arthur and my sisters came in and out too. We all cried, a lot. I slept a little bit on a mattress on the floor. We even smiled a little bit. We talked and cried some more. I begged those who looked after me to help me, I begged them not to give up trying to find me somewhere, and they didn’t.

I didn’t go onto the follow on ward from A&E because I worked there. Just two months before, I had been there working, heavily pregnant excited for my new adventure. Fast forward two months and I was a shell of who I was once. The thought of my colleagues seeing me like this mortified me. I wasn’t ashamed of the situation but I didn’t want to be unprofessional, I didn’t want them to see me any differently. I didn’t want to lose my “credibility” as a nurse. It wasn’t about having a mental illness, it was just about having an illness. So they let me stay in that room for 3 days. I went to the matron who I had worked with before, I broke down and sobbed as I asked her to help. My manager of my ward came in and told me she wouldn’t let me go home, she promised me she would make sure they find me a bed somewhere.

When I look back at that incredibly difficult time, I will never forget those who worked tirelessly to help me. But I know this is not always the case. I have had people message me saying they’ve been to their GP and they’ve sent them home saying “there’s not much they can do, see how you feel in a few weeks”. I’ve seen people bounce in and out of hospital overdosing again and again. I know young people who were put on waiting lists even thought they harm themselves every day. We say depression and people roll their eyes. They say “oh she just gets a bit anxious”, like it’s nothing.

But it’s not. There isn’t enough mother and baby units in the country. Some people don’t have one anywhere near where they live. There isn’t enough inpatient beds. There isn’t enough permanent staff because nurses are too stretched. We have waiting lists even though some people don’t have time. We have people who work in healthcare who disapprove of mental illnesses. But we can do better. And from a few years ago I think we already are.

Finally it is becoming more recognised that men suffer depression too. Addiction is treated as a mental illness. There are more volunteers on the streets because 80% of those who are homeless in the UK report their mental health suffers. Charities like Samaritans have call lines open 24/7. We have World mental health day, International day of happiness. Of course there is still a long way to go. More money is needed. More education in schools, healthcare and workplaces. More staff and more organisations to make more beds. But, like I said before, nothing is perfect. But, to me the NHS gets it right a lot more than they get it wrong.

Stay tuned guys. Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here.

Love, Kate. X

So parenthood can be very lonely.

So here we are. It can be hard to be a parent and at times I’ve found myself feeling very alone. I think it’s for a few reasons. Every baby/ child is different and at times I’ve found myself feeling like nobody is feeling the same way I do. Or sometimes you feel like everybody else has it together. Like you see pictures of children eating amazing meals, home cooked, 3 meals a day with snacks in between. Sometimes I can’t even get Arth to sniff food, i mean a sniff wouldn’t really be much use but you see what I mean. You think, what are they doing differently?! Then you get mountains of different of advice and feel more lost than ever.

Sometimes at 3am in the morning when your bouncing up and down with your one year old and then the next day you have someone say to you; “oh my baby is only 10 weeks and she sleeps through every night”… Suddenly you feel like you will never have a full nights sleep again (you will) and your the only one in the world. Sleep is a big one because at 3am in the morning it can feel like the world is dark and your the only one awake.

I think we compare ourselves against each other and if we cant “keep up” with others or if something is different for us we feel very lonely. We can feel like we’re doing something wrong. But just because we do something different to others doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

It can make you feel like your alone, that you can’t talk to anyone about it for fear of being judged.

There’s also the loneliness that as amazing as our children are, their not the most amazing conversationalists. In my experience anyway. Sure as they get older I feel like this feeling gets a little bit easier. In the early days when your talking to your baby and their just looking at you blankly like “can you just feed me and shut up please? Oh,and I just did a big one in my pants.” And that’s about all you get. That for me, felt very lonely. It’s hard because you want to feel like your doing it right, you’d like some reassurance. Maybe they could fill in a questionnaire, maybe rate you out of 10, anything would be good.

The point is, it is lonely. I don’t think this is just a “I’ve had PND and been lonely” kind of thing. It feels like everybody feels this way sometimes. From what I gather. It is hard and it does still feel lonely sometimes for me. The first of my childhood friends to have a baby, sometimes I feel alone just because I don’t feel like they want to talk about big poops, teeth and weaning. Their life has taken a different direction to mine at the moment so sometimes you feel like your on your own.

But I know I’m not. It is lonely sometimes. And it’s ok to admit. I think it’s to admit even if you have family and friends all around you. Even if you’ve been trying for your baby for years and years. Even if you’ve lost a child. It’s still ok to admit you struggle with feeling alone sometimes even when you have your baby there, even when your surrounded by your children. Sometimes I think we all need adult interaction. We need to talk about something other than our babies, something other than what we do and what they do, we need to stop comparing. You need to take a breather.

I think we need to say to each other “I feel the same” and “you do what works for you”, “mine still don’t sleep”, and “go out and do something for you”. Having a baby made me feel like I wanted my Mum around me more. My family. It made me feel like a child myself again a little bit. I wanted to have those I loved around me just to give me a nod when I would say something like “but that amount of poo is ok right? Should it be that colour?”. I still call my mum when I have a moment of parent terror, like when Arth feel into a big muddy puddle of horse poo…face first, mouth open…yep that happened. Que call to my Mum; “is he going to be ok? Should I call the doctor?!” He was fine and laughed and felt quite happy about the situation actually.

My point is, feeling alone sucks. But we are never truly alone. There is always someone who knows the exact right thing to say. There is always someone who will just nod and hug you. There is always someone who helps that loneliness. And I totally believe it’s ok to admit.

Thanks for sticking with my very infrequent posts peeps. Stay tuned for the next one, I’ll try not to leave it so long.

Love, Kate. X