Parenting

It’s okay not to be okay

IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY – WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY

An hour after she was born
An hour after after she was born

It was December 2015. I had been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first baby. Gia wasn’t due until 26th December, however, due to pregnancy complications I was booked in for an early induction on 3rd December. The date could not come quick enough.

Nobody’s first birth story is ever that pleasant and mine had been a long and stressful pregnancy. From 30 wks, I had to report to hospital every 48hrs to be hooked up to machines to check that the blood flow through my placenta was okay. Basically, the worst case scenario meant that, should my blood flow reverse, they’d only have 24 hours to get her out, hence the constant monitoring. As you can imagine, this was incredibly stressful.
Hospital Monitoring
At hospital during one of my many monitoring sessions
Two of my best friends had planned an amazing baby shower when I was around 32 weeks pregnant and it should have been such a happy occasion. I’d had hospital monitoring the day before my baby shower and the consultant had really scared me by saying that my PI (blood flow) was dangerously high and I had to be extra vigilant. If I couldn’t feel the baby moving, I had to go straight to hospital.
Baby Shower
Putting a brave face on at my Baby Shower

Lots of friends and family had travelled from all over for the baby shower, but I was feeling super anxious all day. It sounds incredibly ungrateful, but I couldn’t wait for everyone to leave, I just wanted to lie down and concentrate on my baby’s movements. Could I feel her kicking? Was she moving? Was she going to be okay? Please be okay. I remember bursting into tears that evening as the whole day I’d plastered a smile on, but inside I was a nervous wreck.

This was how my pregnancy continued for the next 5 weeks. I finally made it to 37wks & was booked in for the induction. None of the drugs worked & it was 4 days before she finally arrived in theatre as her heart rate had dropped. Turns out the confused little munchkin had the cord around her neck, her head the wrong way and her arm in the air! They dragged her out by ventouse & forceps. Needless to say, at this point, I was high as a kite, but the relief I felt was immense.

Newborn
Just born

Our miracle baby (who was the result of clomid) finally arrived safe & healthy (or so we thought).

8 hours after she was born, she was in intensive care fighting for her life. Basically her lungs hadn’t hardened. She had surfactant dysfunction. Without enough surfactant, she couldn’t breathe properly and her lungs would collapse. She wasn’t able able to breathe in enough oxygen to support her organs and so they had to act swiftly. Thank goodness this was picked up RELATIVELY quickly or the outcome could have been a lot worse. Usually when an infant has respiratory distress syndrome it is treated in the delivery room, but Gia’s wasn’t detected until 7 hours later.

That night (when I was still totally out of it) I was awoken by a medical team to give verbal consent to them administering surfactant which was going to involve them putting her into a temporary state of paralysis. Of course, I was always going to consent, they had to do what they had to do, but I later found out that my husband hadn’t wanted to take the decision in isolation incase something went wrong.

My husband had stayed with her since she was born (as I was unable to) and had been in intensive care with her, but was not allowed to see the surfactant being administered because of the distress it would cause. They even let him sleep on a chair next to her incubator in intensive care that night as she was so poorly and as tough as you think somebody is, I know this was such an emotional and difficult thing for him to have to see/go through alone. I was of no use, as I was still recovering from the very difficult labour.

Baby I’m hospital
Gia in recovery
I am sooo grateful to all the doctors & NHS staff at St Thomas Hospital who work tirelessly with all the babies. The things they are able to achieve these days really is incredible.
Jaundiced baby
The moment I got her back in a room with me

Slowly but surely, Gia improved, but it was 2 emotional weeks before we were finally allowed to take our baby home.

Looking back it sounds totally ridiculous, but I didn’t even want anyone to visit us in hospital. I allowed my mum, my husband and myself to be around Gia, I was afraid anybody else would break her. I’m ashamed to say and it sounds totally irrational, but I didn’t even want my in-laws to see her (but they obviously did). When I got home, I had so many well wishes and people (even close family) wanting to visit, but I didn’t want to see anyone. I just wanted to shut myself off from the world with our baby.

Baby at home
She’s home

I didn’t want anyone to touch or hold Gia incase they made her sick. I meticulously made everyone sterilise their hands as soon as they walked through the door and I’d sit in the corner eye-balling anyone that held her.

This lasted for around a week then something clicked and I realised she was going to be/ and was fine and my mood started to lift. I guess everything had taken it’s toll, but this was definitely a low (& a high point) of my life all rolled into one.

To say it was an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement. Thankfully there have been no repercussions for Gia and she’s grown into a happy and healthy toddler.

Mum & Daughter
Me & My girl

My anxiety was at it’s worst during this period, I’ve suffered anxiety most of my adult life. Nobody would ever think this, as on the outside, I just plaster a smile on and pretend everything is okay.

Most of my close circle of friends know I have anxiety, I’ve actually had treatment for it. There have been periods where I’ve totally avoided going out of the house incase I bump into somebody.

What’s the big issue with bumping into people? I have no idea, but it’s something totally ridiculous that gets my heart rate pumping, I blush, and totally lose the ability to form a proper conversation. I’m slightly better these days, but still something I randomly dread. It’s really surprising since overall I am quite a confident person and it doesn’t tie in with my extrovert personality, but I’ve come to accept that it’s just part of who I am. And that’s okay.

The point I’m trying to make is, not everything is always as it seems. People are often going through something that you cannot see from the outside. Just because somebody looks okay, it doesn’t mean that they are feeling that way. Be kind, treat others the way you want to be treated and never judge.

In the dark, there’s always light.
If you’re lost, you’ll find a way.
If you feel unlovable, there’s always someone who loves YOU.
If you need to talk, I’m here to listen.

IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY.
It’s okay not to be okay
It’s okay not to be okay

Spread a little love today for World Mental Health Day (an issue close to my heart as my dad also suffers from bipolar so something, as a family, we’ve struggled with most of our lives) and even if talking about it helps one other person, then it’s worth it.

Be kind,

The Exhausted Mum
xxxxx