21 May 2015

Emotions in Pregnancy - Interview no.1: Life As Mum Blog

Very excited to be publishing the first in my interview series - `Emotions in Pregnancy` - check out this post to find out the reasons behind this interview series. Tonight's interviewee is Beth, who blogs at www.life-as-mum.co.uk, here's her story.....

Hello! I'm Beth. I am a 22 year old Mother of two. I live in N.Wales with my Partner and two daughters, Mia & Elliw. I started blogging in 2013 to document my family life and something that my girls can read back on, when they are older.

1. How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
FIRST PREGNANCY - I was only 16. I was stupid and didn't think about contraception. I honestly just thought it wouldnt happen to me, but obviously it did. I was scared. I was scared of being a single teenage mother. The baby's father denied that she was his because of silly rumours but he knew very well she was his. I went through pregnancy and first 6-7 months of her life alone, with the help of MY Dad.

I was scared of telling me people because i wasn't actually in a relationship with Mia's Dad. Although he knew very well i really liked him. When i found out i was pregnant at 7 weeks Mia's Dad started a relationship with another girl a week or so before i found out. I had a lot of abuse, people telling me i should abort (including Mia's Dad) and i even had people giving me sick comments which i won't go into. I was scared of disappointing my family most of all.

SECOND PREGNANCY - My second pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected. I was on the pill and i had missed 2-3 days. I was only with my Partner for about 3 months. Again, i was scared telling other people and dissapointing my family. I had the support off everyone and from my partner.

2. How did your mood vary over the course of the pregnancy and did it vary by trimester or milestones?

FIRST PREGNANCY - I didn't buy anything for Mia until my 20 week scan. I felt like i wanted to buy sooner but looking back, I'm glad i waited. My moods got worse in the 3rd trimester as i had a condition called Obstetric Cholestasis. OC is a liver condition, where you itch CONSTANTLY all over your body.

SECOND PREGNANCY - The same with my first pregnancy, i didn't buy anything until my 20 week scan. My mood changed in the first trimester because i suffered with bad nausea every evening, but i was better in the second trimester. I got back into a bad, emotional mood in my 3rd trimester.

3. Did your symptoms affect your mood and emotions at all?

Having Obstetric Cholestasis affected me quite badly. I couldn't sleep at night and i found it much harder going in my second pregnancy because i still had to wake up to my eldest daughter in the morning, whilst my partner went to work. I would try to sleep without covers, on the floor and even on the sofa downstairs. It was really hard to feel 'myself' during the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy.

In my second pregnancy as well as having OC, i suffered depression. I think having OC was part to blame for getting depression. I felt useless. I felt like i couldn't do much with my first child. I also had that feeling where i thought i wouldn't be able to share my love between two children.

4. If you did have low mood or have any mental health issues during your pregnancy, how did you feel? 

I don't know if i could call my low mood as depression in my first pregnancy but i was pretty much in a low mood at most parts of my pregnancy. I was just really scared on becoming a single mother. I have lived with my Dad all my life and my Mother is pretty much useless and never does anything with me so i was brought up by a single parent so i know how it feels and i never wanted any of my children to have a single parent (i have nothing against them by the way, as i was brought up by one myself!)

I didn't seek help when i fell into depression in my second pregnancy. I kept it all in and i do think it was the wrong thing. I should have sought help. I should have spoken to to someone about how i felt. Although I did have a few night time cries with my partner but he didn't and still doesn't understand how i felt. I really felt useless. I felt like i wasn't going to cope with two children. I remember telling myself that i will try my best to enjoy my whole pregnancy second time round. But i didn't. I couldn't wait until it was over with. Which is a big shame.

5. Did the medical side of pregnancy affect your feelings and mood at all? 

In my first pregnancy i had to go to hospital to be monitored twice a week and see the GP at hospital once a week on a Friday, for the last 10 weeks. It made my pregnancy feel quicker and in a way it helped me. I felt like i had a routine and it kept me busy. Even though sitting on the bed for over an hour twice a week was pretty boring. I had an extra scan because she measured small. Everything was fine and she was 8lbs 9oz when she was born.

My Second pregnancy i only had to go to hospital once a week to be monitored and a GP at hospital once every few weeks. I had to go for an extra scan because yet again, they said she was measuring small. She was 9lbs 8oz when she was born!

I felt exhausted. I was on so many tablets in both pregnancies. I had to smother myself in a cream to help calm down the itching and i just felt helpless. I had to keep on movements as i was a little bit paranoid in case something went wrong but luckily nothing did. Having OC really effect my last ten weeks in both pregnancies, emotionally and mood-wise.

6. How did you feel about giving birth?

I was induced 3 days early with my first and i was induced again with my second but 6 days early. I was happy and i was over the moon that i was getting induced. I felt like i couldn't cope with the itching anymore. I couldn't enjoy my pregnancy, i felt disgusting and i really didn't feel myself. I couldn't wait to give birth, even though i was petrified.

7. What advice would you give to any mums-to-be on this subject?

I would advise anyone who suffers with depression during pregnancy, to seek help ASAP! Depression is a horrible illness and i found it worse when i was pregnant. I would honestly advise you to seek help as soon as feel or think you are depressed. I wouldn't want any mum-to-be to go through what i did.

Here's where you can catch Beth on social media:

Blog - Life As Mum
Facebook - www.facebook.com/lifeasmumblog
Twitter - @lifeasmumblog
Instagram - @lifeasmumblog_SW

If you'd like to answer these questions on my blog, just get in touch with on twitter @stupidgirl45. I'll be publishing the next interview in the series next thursday - hope you'll join us then!

Thank you and goodnight,

Stupidgirl has left the building

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19 May 2015

Emotions In Pregnancy - A New Interview Series!

Writing my series on Ante-Natal Depression and Anxiety was incredibly cathartic, which I wasn't expecting. It was a very stressful period in my life, not just for me but for husbando as well, so to have the response it had and the comments and shares made it worth "coming clean" about my experiences. 

Part of the response showed me that my experience *was* on the more unusual side but equally that I wasn't alone and that sadly other women experience these negative feelings also. It was a small comfort to know it hadn't been just me, but I was saddened at how many mums felt they couldn't be open about their experiences or even knew that AND existed and to seek help if they wanted to.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about - here's the posts I've written - parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. I hope that by putting these out there, my experience in some way will help another mum feel less alone and less alienated and more able to seek help. 

As a result of the discussions around the posts, I came up with an idea that I am very excited about - a new interview series focussing on mums talking about their emotions and emotional-well being during pregnancy. It's something that's not much mentioned - how we're really feeling, and at all the different stages of pregnancy, in the middle of that hormone soup. It's a rollercoaster even without mental health issues to contend with - anyone else cry at andrex puppy ads?! 

My `Emotions in Pregnancy` series of interviews will go live this Thursday - 21st May - and from then on, every Thursday weekly and we'll be able to hear from different mums, dads and bloggers about their emotional experiences during pregnancy. My aim of the series is to show mums-to-be that how ever you feel, that's just fine but to seek support if you're not feeling quite right.

As you'll see from the interview, there's a whole spectrum of experiences out there, no two mummies are the same. The interviews so far have been incredibly personal, honest, humbling and emotional to read. I think you'll love them just as much as me and I hope you'll join in with comments and shares to encourage mums to be to read the interviews also! If you're interested in being interviewed, drop me an email on stupidgirl45 at hotmail dot com and I'l ping you over the questions.

Finally, If you're currently pregnant and looking for support, or know someone who is, here are some links that may be able to provide support and help. I would also always encourage people to talk to their midwife and GP.

PANDAS Foundation - Pre and Post Natal Depression Advice and Support
House of Light - Help and support for women affected by post and ante-natal depression

Thank you and goodnight,

Stupidgirl has left the building

14 May 2015

Depression & Anxiety in Pregnancy 4: Heading For the Finish Line

This is the final part in my series on Depression + Anxiety in pregnancy. You might like to read part one, two and three before this one!

Once in the 3rd tri and close to finishing work, the anxiety lessened a little. I no longer had to battle public transport worrying that I would throw up on someone or pee myself. I could sleep and eat whenever I wanted. However, I was still a hormonal fed up monster thanks to unrelenting nausea, heartburn and braxton hicks from 18 weeks.When people told me I'd probably go two weeks overdue, I wanted to both kill them and cry my eyes out.... 

At 32 weeks (and well over 13 stone!)
Although the depression had lifted pretty much, I had a wobble when I finished work. I should have been thrilled - I could rest, fart, read and enjoy time on my own - but something wasn't right, I felt useless! I'd had a job since I left uni 10 years earlier, and worked through summers and school before that. Now I was work-less but not unemployed. I had a baby, but I wasn't a mummy - yet. I felt in limbo and it scared me. Our identities are so caught up in what we `do` - work or parenting or playing. But I wasn't really doing any of that yet and I felt weird and un-busy. 

It sounds crazy written down - but that's the point really - here was another part of pregnancy I wasn't ready for and the hormone soup in my head played havoc with it. As a first time mum, I found the waiting-for-baby to come quite isolating. I didn't have any mummy friends yet - everyone was at work pretty much - and I didn't have the energy to drag my fat ass to the city for a 40 minute coffee. I didn't have anyone to talk to really.

I know this is where the NCT group thing is supposed to help but I didn't want to spend the money. And I just didn't feel like i'd connect with other mummies to be, because I thought I wasn't good enough.  I was very lucky though to be under the care of Streatham Valley midwives because they ran a 6 week ante-natal classes course as part of our treatment and I did meet some new mummy friends that way. However as I was due first....yup you guessed it....none of them were on mat leave yet. So I was confused, lonely and scared on top of all the 3rd trimester chaos.

After a couple of weeks of this, nesting kicked in and distracted me from my worries. But then at 37+ something....things began to happen. My birth story is best left to another post but even as things were kicking off in earnest, I was still in denial about being in labour. I refused to pack my bag (I know, I know, it should have been done already), insisting everything was going to stop, that this wasn't it, I was fine (whilst on my hands and knees). 

It wasn't until I threw the phone across the room when talking to my midwife that she insisted we come in to hospital "otherwise you'll be delivering this baby at home".  So er, I arrived at the hospital at 9cm. After a "fun" cab journey through south London at 3am. But that's a story for another post.....

So by the end of my pregnancy, I wasn't in too bad a place - but I got there with an awful lot of help and support.  I would have been in a much worse state without it - and it set me up for a better than expected start once Baby45 arrived. I hope this series of posts has been interesting to read and that if you've had low mood or AND in pregnancy, it's made you feel better - you're not the only one. 

Enjoyed this post? Don't forget to check out parts one, two and three also....
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12 May 2015

Depression + Anxiety in Pregnancy 3: Getting Help + Buying Stuff

*This is part 3 in my series on Depression & Anxiety in Pregnancy. You may like to read parts One and Two also*

Owning up to needing psychiatric support when you were pregnant is scary stuff. Everyone has a perception of mental health, none of it is flattering. I don't think I was at major risk but between appointments with my lovely psychiatric consultant, a psychiatric nurse and also a CBT counselor, I ended up with almost weekly appointments. These completely saved me as I had regular panic attacks through the early stages of pregnancy (I lost my job at 8 weeks pregnant, just after the spotting had stopped) and without my psychiatric support I don't want to think about the state I would have been in. 

I was also mixed up about the support. On the one hand it was amazing to finally have this help but on the other, I was scared that they would think I was a danger to myself or my son and take him away when he was born. I still live with a remaining fear that this will happen. That my mental health will mean I won't be allowed access to the person I love more than anything in the world.

Alongside all of this, we also were referred to a genetic counselor due to various things. This is not really much fun. There's not much to say but it meant I awaited our 12 and 20 week scans with a fair amount of dread.  

As a result of all this, I utterly refused to buy maternity clothes, despite not fitting into my jeans from a ridiculous 8 weeks. Lets not even talk about the enormo-boob situation. Even the sonographer told me, not unsympathetically, to stop doing my jeans up with a hair band....

Me at 24 weeks
I struggled to buy things for my baby, as if in some way, it would "jinx" things. I just about tolerated a small book and babygro purchase after successful scans but planning for the larger items threw me. I spent many tearful, panicky hours wandering around the baby floor in John Lewis, whilst my long-suffering OH asked me questions about buggies and cots and clothes, as groomed mummies-to-be selected everything they needed without batting an eyelid.

I found it all so intimidating - how did I know what buggy I needed and for what occasions. And cots, cribs, bassinets, co-sleepers, moses baskets, hammocks - all that just for sleeping. I frequently just wanted to yell "I Don't Know, Stop Fucking Asking Me Stuff". I'm a perfectionist and making such important-seeming choices just threw my anxiety and paranoia into overdrive. If there is anything more likely to trigger a row than a hormonal, anxious pregnant woman, a department store, over-priced buggies and a confused father-to-be, then I don't know it. 

At 27 weeks
By the time I was at 28 weeks, poor Baby Thor (as bump was known) barely had a thing. I couldn't face the research either, it was so bewildering, so much details and WHAT IF I GOT IT WRONG. Again with the perfectionism. OH had to step in and pretty much insist we bought a buggy, a cot and some clothes. But not without me melting down every.single.time. I find decision making stressful at the best of times, but thanks to my anxiety and paranoia everything seemed booby-trapped to make me out to be a bad mother.

Want to know what happened next? Final part in the series coming soon!

10 May 2015

Silent Sunday