REAL STORIES | Maternal Mental Health
A real story of the worst start to motherhood by Emma.
“So, Emma your baby is coming a little bit earlier than we’d hoped.”
Oh god. But I haven’t even written my birth plan yet; we don’t have a Moses basket and I’m not up to ‘that part’ in my book!
Babies don’t give a toss about any of that and in a true Lyla style, she burst (ouch) into our world two months earlier than expected.
I’d been dreaming of this moment ever since I shoved Jenny – my cabbage patch kid – up my jumper at around the age of three and now she was here – and she was real! That was sort of where the dream ended for me (for a bit anyway).
Whipped off to the Special Care Baby Unit within minutes of her arrival, I didn’t clap eyes on her again for almost 6 hours. Skin to skin – what’s that? But it didn’t matter, she was here – healthy, beautiful and mine.
A week later she was ready to be unleashed into the real world. But I wasn’t.
There was no ‘going home’ photo of us, no “new baby” balloons to carry out with beaming smiles plastered across our faces – instead Matt and my parents took her home and left me crying into my cold sponge pudding and custard on a hospital ward full of mothers with their babies.
I missed the nappy changes, night feeds, first moments – the lot. The medication I’d been put on meant that breastfeeding was off the cards for us too.
Days turned to weeks and months and my health got dangerously worse. I was moved off the Maternity Ward and became a resident on the Gastro ward. Unfortunately for me, I was left longer than I perhaps would’ve been had I not have just given birth.
The doctors put a lot of my symptoms and my pain down to the fact I’d just had a baby and that meant by the time they’d worked out what was actually wrong with me it was too late.
I ended up having an emergency operation to remove my bowel and was given a stoma and in the weeks after that – never one to do things by halves – I contracted sepsis.
All her fault
I sank into a miserable, dark and lonely place – blamed everything on my pregnancy, and sadly on my beautiful baby girl too.
In my head it was all her fault that this had happened. If I hadn’t have been pregnant I wouldn’t have had a Crohns flare up, and if I hadn’t had just given birth, the doctors would have taken the pain I was in much more seriously.
My thoughts spiralled out of control and after a while, I told my mum to stop bringing Lyla in at hospital visiting times to see me.
It was really hard trying to hold her whilst I was all wired up – she didn’t want me anyway.
My husband Matt used to send me photos of her and I’d look at them with a massive sense of resentment. I was stuck in here and those two were out there having a great time. I turned my phone off and shut myself out of it all.
The turning point
Then in May – almost 4 months after she was born – I saw this photo of her and something happened…
It was like a switch had been flicked and all these incredible feelings of unconditional love and emotion came flooding back. I turned my phone on and rang my mum and asked her to bring Lyla in that afternoon to see me. It was such a turning point and it was as if a dark fog had been lifted – my mindset completely altered thanks to this one photo.
Of course, I was recovering and coming off a lot of strong medication so that was contributing to the way I was feeling and played a part in my more positive mindset but this didn’t make up for the time I had lost out on with her. Still, I suppose better late than never.
A couple of weeks later I was ready to finally leave the hospital for good with my beautiful baby in my arms and start the journey into motherhood that I’d always dreamed of.
Our start was rocky but we are more than making up for it now and I don’t blame myself or anyone else for what happened – I have my beautiful, healthy girl and, thank the Lord I’m fit and well – this is more than enough for us all.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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