2 years on from writing a blog about post natal depression (PND) and 18 months on from publishing it – I feel it’s the right time to share my experiences after giving birth to my second baby….and how different things were for me the second time around.
After being diagnosed with PND following the birth of my first Baby, Freddie; I became one of the 15% of women who suffer some form of PND during the first year of giving birth. One of the first signs for me was the initial bonding process – I didn’t get that ‘rush’ of love that I had heard so much about from other mothers. It was painful and I was ashamed. But as time went on and by using a Self Help approach to my recovery; when Freddie was 6 months old, one day out of the blue I was overcome with love for him. I was in awe of him and I couldn’t take my eyes off him even for a second – that was what I had been missing and what I was working so hard to experience. I had to push through a lot of anxiety and it took time, determination and positivity to get to the other side.
As the birth of our second bundle approached I couldn’t help but worry that I may suffer from PND after the birth again. As someone who had experienced it previously I was more at risk of suffering with it again and that terrified me. Not only for me but for Freddie; at 2 and a half he was so in tune with me and was so aware of feelings and emotions. I was determined not to let him be affected by anything I might suffer with.
So here we are 2 years later – my second little boy, Heath, was born in August 2017. He raced into the world early one Saturday morning having been born only 45 minutes after we arrived at hospital. The midwife didn’t even have time to book me in before it was time for me to push, there was no time for pain relief and it was all bit frantic.
But then the world stopped.
He was here and he was everything, he was perfect and I was more than in love with him. I got that rush, that absolute engulfment of love and energy and joy that I’d missed with Freddie. It was genuinely one of the best feelings in the world and I was so relieved and happy to be experiencing it.
Heath slotted into our family like he’d been with us forever and we were in the ‘baby bubble’ for weeks after he was born. It was probably the most special time we’ve had as a family. Freddie loved him without question and we couldn’t get enough of him. It was so different for me this time around and I almost felt like every beautiful emotion I was feeling was elevated. I’m not sure if that was because I was just so happy and relieved not to be experiencing symptoms of PND; or whether that’s how others feel, I’ll never know. But I do know that I’ve never felt so much love and contentment. My heart felt like it had grown overnight.
As the weeks passed by, we slowly got used to be a family of 4. The tiredness was off the scale, but it was counteracted by so much happiness that it didn’t really matter. I felt so proud of my little family. But then, what felt like all of a sudden, when Heath was around 10 weeks old a familiar fog descended and I started to panic. I started to recognise some of the negative feelings I was experiencing and all I could think was, please not again.
In most cases PND doesn’t show itself until around 12 weeks after having a baby. For some its less, for some its more. So I did know that it could potentially affect me at any time. When I started to feel similar to my previous experience I was devastated and honestly, a bit scared. I felt so uptight and worried.
But some things are down to circumstance so let’s put everything into context;
When Heath was 9 weeks old we discovered we had a leak in our house; it had caused A LOT of damage. We had to have walls taken down and we had industrial drying machines drilled into the cavity walls to dry it all out. Our full ensuite and bedroom was stripped bare, all the plaster had to be knocked off the walls, it was like a building site! It took weeks to dry out. Luckily we didn’t have to move out of our home. But we had workmen in the house everyday and the noise from the dryers constantly droning on 24 hours a day was enough to drive us all crazy. Myself and my husband relocated to the spare room and we had to rejig the rest of the house to accommodate a lot of our belongings. Everything was upside down and as I was at home everyday with the boys I couldn’t get away from the mess and upheaval.
In addition to this our dog, who was 10 years old at the time was very poorly and we were attending weekly vets appointments. She was on a concoction of drugs which had to be administered at specific times of the day. She was confined to the kitchen and I couldn’t really let her near the kids due to her condition.
Add a new baby and a toddler into the mix and I started feeling pulled in all directions.
I waited a couple of weeks before speaking to my health visitor about how I felt. I wasn’t sure whether it was PND or whether the juggle of the house, the dog, a new baby and a toddler was just getting on top of me. But having that chat really helped. To quote some advice from my previous blog;
‘My advice for anyone who is experiencing symptoms of PND is to speak to someone – just one person. You don’t have to declare it to the world, but telling one person may just put you on the road to recovery’
And that’s what I did; I told my health visitor Teresa that I was worried and was starting to feel the way I had done with Freddie. As with my previous experience, Teresa was great and she offered a lot of support and guidance. Without exception, the Health Visitors I have dealt with following the birth of both my boys have been great.
I knew that I wasn’t suffering with anxiety this time around and that was one of the major issues for me previously. I felt like I was waiting for it to come, but thankfully it never did. Then after a couple of weeks the fog lifted and I realised that I was more than likely suffering from a bit of stress due to everything that was going on. Thankfully it passed over quite quickly. After 2 or 3 weeks of feeling generally crap about everything; I started to feel better, stronger and back to normal. Back into the ‘baby bubble’ and the elation of being a Mam of 2 beautiful boys. I was relieved. Also, hormones have a lot to answer for!!
It took 5 months to fix our ensuite & bedroom and 10 months to fix our dog. But both bounced back from massive set backs; Coco is now 12 years old and she is fit, healthy and leak free (don’t ask!) as is our ensuite.
And as for me and my family, we are great. Heath is 20 months old and is a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm. Freddie is 4 and at preshool; he runs everywhere and talks our ears off. We couldn’t be happier with our boys.
I had completely different experiences after each of my boys were born and I think I will always feel a little sad about the experience I had with Freddie. But he and his brother are everything and I’ve stopped looking back, what matters is the here and now. And now, it couldn’t be better.