Maternal Mental Health

This is a topic I know very little about, as a mother who hasn’t had it. Though, as a sister of a mother who has, I know a little. 

All I can say is that our two lives during and after pregnancy couldn’t be more opposite. 

I had a great pregnancy with both of my children, even at my age of 40 and 41 years old. I flew through them both without a hitch, except very minor symptoms such as carpel tunnel, thrush, piles, restless leg syndrome, sickness all the way through, no weight gain because I couldn’t eat, anaemic, migraines that would leave me losing my speech, vision and sensations at the start and end of pregnancy etc etc. 

The general well being of us both was great, nothing too serious, though the risks were high. 

When my son was born, I’d just turned 40 and didn’t feel any different. I had a very bad birth, and I remember being totally UNDERWHELMED at having a baby. Part of this was because I was so used to help bringing up my sister’s children, so kiddies were second nature to me, but I do remember not having any excitement, as such, I just literally got on with it. 

I didn’t fall in love with him as soon as I saw him, as most people do; that kind of just happened weeks later.  The becoming a mum overnight didn’t bother me, of course I just felt tired and all the usual, but I just cracked on. 

Day 5 came and I had big baby blues: we were in hospital in isolation so the pair of us weren’t great with an infection, but when my partner came to see us, he was tired – having his own business and his manager had just left – and he was having to hold the fort himself. He was worn out, I could see this when he came in to see us; he had a look on his face and I literally told him to F**k Off right out the door! I laugh now as it was just out of character for me, or at least when there was nothing to be mad at 😉 I just remember it feeling like a switch – I just broke my heart! 

The midwife came around to do her checks and I had a lovely relationship with all my midwives; we’d laugh, have chats, a cuppa tea if there was time. They helped me through everything, as they do, then she politely asked me’ how do you feel emotionally?’ and I just sobbed. 

She said ‘You see Anita, you’er the ones we watch; the ones always laughing and joking with big personalities, that come crashing down. ‘

I got her – totally understood what she was saying. The next day I was fine. 

My daughter came: baby number two, I’m now aged 41 with a 1 year old at home. I’m shattered, when I saw her, yep, I felt the same: ‘no big deal, I’ve just had a baby’.  I had vowed to enjoy it more this time around though, and I did. We were straight home with this one so it was really nice to have everything ready and knowing what to expect

Day 5 came and I cried my eyes out like a switch again, thinking that my partner didn’t hug or kiss me like he used to. My mum was with me and I remember her saying, ‘well I’ve never seen him do it?’ I said ‘MUM! Of course he does! Behind closed doors he’s all over me!’…

I went to bed and cried myself to sleep, whilst my mum looked after the baby.  My partner was – and always had been – fabulous, I just know that on day 5 both times that was me balling myself to sleep. 

I was sat on our gorgeous local green with my first baby in a baby sling on a gorge sunny day after a little walk…my partner had just gone into work, he owns an Irish bar, where I used to drink, party and – sometimes – perform in there as a singer. Off he went to work and it hit me: ‘You’re there and I’m here with this flipping sling… my life has changed so dramatically, I can’t even nip to the shop for a bag of crisps! I’m sat here: stuck. My life will never be the same. Will I work again? Will I sing again? Will I be able to go to the shop? Am I in every single night for the rest of my life?! Where are my friends? What are they doing? I’m just here- alone!’ 

My mum and dad drove past me on the green, going to church that morning. I saw them – they saw me – they waved and I caught my Mum’s eye and we exchanged a look. She knew something was up and I just broke my heart, as they drove away. I hated my new life! I loved being a mum, I loved my baby but hated the change, at that time. 

Funny how time passes: now when my kids go to bed at 6pm I can’t wait to get into bed on my laptop at 6.30. I live for my nights in and find it hard to go out! 

My poor sister, on the other hand, has had post natal depression after all 3 of her children. Every birth, my mum has had to look after the babies full time, whilst my sister gets tablets to help with her depression and sleep through it. 

I cannot judge, nor relate, because its something I’ve never felt, but you have to empathise with any women feeling that, because how could any mother want to feel like that towards their child sometimes, unless they were struggling mentally.

The mental health team were a great support for her, she never lost her children, which I know is a huge concern for many mothers going through this massive change in our lives. 

I love all mothers! 

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