Sunday, 5 February 2012

Having Babies

I was 17 years old when I married my (1st), husband. I knew right away that I wanted children, even though my husband told me after we were married he was not all that interested in a family. Despite his feelings, we became pregnant around the time of our first wedding anniversary, and I was ecstatic. I already had a secret stash of parenting books by the time I had my pregnancy confirmed by my GP, which was also the day of my 19th birthday. My pregnancy was text book and I delivered a beautiful baby boy (5 days past my due date), perfect in every way. Skipping to six weeks down the road, things were not quite so rosy. My little boy was displaying classic colic symptoms and cried non stop between 4pm and 9pm every day. To add to the situation I had developed Post Natal Depression and no one, including myself, had recognised it. Things came to a head one day, and despite my GP coming to see me at home (in answer to my desperate pleas), no treatment was offered. It seemed that in 'their' opinion, since I had answered truthfully that I was not harbouring any intent to harm myself or my baby, then no further inquiry was required (this was in 1989). Inevitably I began to feel better over time, and my baby grew out of his crying episodes (in all honesty it took until he was about 6 months old).
When my son was 13 months old I became pregnant for a second time. I hoped and hoped that this second baby would cry less and I would escape the dreaded Post Natal Depression (PND). I had half my wish come true, because my little daughter was much less of a fussy baby when she was born. Unfortunately I did not escape PND and if I thought it was bad the first time, then nothing could have prepared me for the 2nd time. Again though, no one seemed to really pick up on it, and my daughter was about a year old when I was finally offered medication (Prozac). I took the Prozac as directed for about 1 year, and I will never be really sure if it actually helped me. My depression ended when I started a little drawing class 2 afternoons a week (away from the children). During the year I was on the medication I had a pregnancy 'scare'. I was in such a blind panic at the thought of another pregnancy (PND all over again), and I told this to my GP at my twice monthly visit. My GP reccommend that he refer me for tubal ligation (female sterilization), as a means of ensuring no unwanted pregnancies would occur. Given my state of mind at the time, its hardly surprising that when the pregnancy scare turned out to be a false alarm, I agreed to sterilization. I was sterilized on 14th December 1993, 2 weeks after my 24th birthday.
Sadly my 1st marriage ended after 10 years together and I was alone with my children for a few years. Eventually though I met a lovely man, and after living together for a few years, we were married on my 36th birthday. I had always been straight with my husband that there would be no babies for us, and he accepted this as a fate a compli. After we were married though, I had that unmistakeable longing for a baby which cant be ignored (mother nature at work?). We went to my GP (not the same GP as before), and after a few chats she referred us to the assisted conception unit at our local hospital. It took just under a year to go through the process with them (a scan to look at my tubes, and 2 sets of fertility tests for my husband and 2 consultations), and then a letter came to say I was on a long waiting list and not to be overly optimistic. Then out of the blue a few months later another letter came saying I had been reviewed and it was felt that I should never have had sterilization in the first place (I was so young, I had PND at the time and no counselling was offered), so because of this, I was to come to hospital in 3 weeks time to have the reversal.
On 15th January 2008 I went to hospital and had the reversal done. My chances of conception afterwards were still fairly low because they could only reverse one fallopian tube (the other was blocked), and also, I was 38 by then. The reversal was extremely painful and it took me a full month before I could start trying to conceive. We were only on our 3rd month of trying when we had a positive pregnancy test. We could hardly believe our luck, and despite being exhausted (being pregnant at 38 isn't the same as being pregnant at 19 or 21), the pregnancy went well.
Our baby was due on the 26th of January so by the time we got to Christmas we were all set for the most exciting times ahead. What no one could have forseen was that just a couple of days into the New Year my Dad would become ill and be taken to hospital. After 4 days, we knew my Dad's situation was serious, but we still anticipated his recovery. What we did not anticipate was that he would die suddenly from a hopital acquired infection 2 weeks before my due date.
When my baby was still inside me at 1 week past my due date, it was decided that I would be induced for my sake, and for the sake of the baby. I felt my grief was behind a wall at that point and I was aware of holding it back. In my jumbled mind I could just manage to pin down the thought that I must protect my baby from the pain I was keeping at arms length.
On the 14th February (St Valentines Day), I went back to the hospital where my Dad had just died and endured the most difficult of labours. My planned low tech birth went out of the window and I was drugged with morphine to get me through it. Incidentally, during my daughters birth 18 years earlier I had no pain relief and no interventions. I wondered if it was as bad from the outside as it was from the inside and I got my answer a few weeks later. On our first trip out with our beautiful and perfect baby son, my Midwife happened to see us in the street. The midwife stopped her car and came running to us, asking how we were. I told her we were ok, and she said she couldn't stop thinking about us and the birth had been horrendous and she was seriously worried how she was going to get me through it (as it turned out I went from 6cm dilated to delivery in 45 minutes so she did not have to 'get me through it' for as long as she had anticipated).
When my son was 3 weeks old, the crying started, and I could not make it stop, and this time it was me and not my baby. Things were different for me though and I had the most amazing Health Visitor. She whisked me off to my GP and I was prescribed Anti-Depressants. She also spoke to me, and listened to me and this time, despite being diagnosed with anxiety, PND and berevement trauma I can honestly say that I was feeling much better by the time my son was 4 months old (I must have been because we even managed a house move at this time). 
My son will be 3 years old in 2 weeks time and although I miss my Dad every day and still have a cry about it from time to time, I can honestly say that my post birth recovery was handled much better this time by all concerned. The main differences I can identify are, my willingness to say the words 'I need help', my Health Visitor being on hand to listen and advise and my GP treating me with medication very early on.
We are trying for another baby right now, but since I am 42 there is only a very slim chance of conception. The thought of coping with PND again is a bit scary, but I know I would ask for help right away again and not hang back scared of looking like a failure. I know first hand that no matter how bad things are, asking for help is always the right thing to do. I have 3 amazing children (now aged 22, 20 and 2), and despite the road being rocky at times I would not change it for the world.

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