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					KATE’S STORY
THE PREGNANCY I was delighted to find out that I was pregnant over 18 months ago. My husband and I had been married for a few months and were surprised it had happened so quickly. We lived in Edinburgh at the time and my husband had decided that over the next few months he would change jobs which we were both happy about. I started feeling sick and nauseous quite early on as I had gastric flu when I was about 7 weeks pregnant. I was so worried I was miscarrying whenever I got stomach cramps from the flu. From then on I was quite panicky about all the different stages of pregnancy i.e. worried at the scan, the 16-week blood tests and then scared that I would have a premature baby although all was fine. I finished work 4 weeks previous to my due date. I had worked at the company for 5 years and all in all it had been quite a stressful job. My husband had found a new job in the Angus area of Scotland. This is not an area we had considered moving to but the job was too good to refuse. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy we had been house hunting in the area. THE LABOUR I went into labour 1 week before the no know relief at home for the first stage of my labour. I then went into hospital at midnight and had gas and air for around 5 hours. This was then accompanied by diamorphine for another 4 hours. I then started pushing but after an hour I was exhausted and I had to be taken for an epidural, then a forceps delivery followed at noon. We both felt elated, as our little girl was born safe and well in July 2003. It seemed to take hours for the epidural to wear off. Our wee girl was very quiet and seemed quite shocked by the whole birth experience. The pain kicked in for me during the night, as the epidural must have completely worn off by then. I hated staying in the hospital although staff were quite helpful. Breastfeeding did not seem too much of a problem either. The next day we were both checked over and all was fine. The only thing being that my daughter had a „clicky hip‟ and would have to be x-rayed the following week. I was told I could leave that day. Although in agony I was delighted despite it only being 24 hours after my daughters birth. THE HOMECOMING Over the next few days I was in agony, could hardly walk or sit and felt stunned by the whole experience. I started feeling that the walls were closing in on me and that I would never be able to go out and do anything ever again. There were lots of presents and cards arriving through the post. Every time something new came I felt fear and dread rather than joy at receiving all the good wishes about how wonderful having a baby was. I was not feeling wonderful. I actually felt like a bus had hit me and I was on autopilot. My pain was not getting any better and I got stronger medication from the visiting midwives. It was around this time I started having strange thoughts when I lay on my bed to rest. I was overwhelmed by my wee girl‟s vulnerability and I kept thinking that I might drown her, smother her or hit her with something. I spoke to the midwives and my husband and I was given a leaflet about PND and was told to make an appointment with my GP. My daughter was fitted with a hip brace at 1-week-old to correct her „clicky hips‟. I was cheerfully told she would have to wear it for 12 weeks, it had to stay on the whole time and I could not give her a bath but could only change clothes and nappies under the brace. It would do her a great deal of good, it was only for 12 weeks and we all had to be so cheerful about the whole thing. I wanted to scream – was there not enough to deal with on top of everything else. My husband went back to work; my Mum came down to help for a week. I was then starting to feel what I thought was a lot better. I felt physically OK and breastfeeding was going well for us both. I visited the GP who thought I seemed fine. I then became determined to get out and about to feel normal again. I would go out every single day to meet friends/ante-natal/health visitor/under-1 club. This was after only 3 weeks. Looking back now I could not bear being cooped up with my baby at home. I did not really know what to do with her and although breastfeeding was easy for us I felt resentful of it and resentful that I was the only food provider for the baby. I felt numb when I looked at her and could feel no love, but somehow this did not disturb me at that time. I hated changing and dressing her, as her hip brace was a barrier between us.

I could not let the housework go and was always washing, clearing up and trying to make the house look normal especially when other people were coming to visit. I would always strive to look well groomed too although it was an effort. By now we had found a house to move to and the move-in date was the end of October. I felt no joy about moving away from familiarity. I managed to breastfeed for around 8 weeks then decided to give up as it was not working out, but I found it so painful to stop. Around this time my health visitor did the „Edinburgh post-natal test‟. I lied on one or two of the questions so received quite a reasonable and „normal‟ score. When my daughter was around 10 weeks old I watched something on the news about abuse to a young baby and from then on something seemed to snap in my mind. I became obsessed that the same thing would somehow happen to my baby. Over the next 2 weeks I became more and more obsessive and could not get the thoughts out of my head. They were there 24 hours. I was beginning to think that I might do something similarly abusive to my daughter and eventually it came to a head and got to the stage where I had a breakdown whilst at my Mother-in-law‟s for the weekend. I told her that I could no longer care for my daughter on my own. I was petrified to be with her alone in case I did something. I did not even want to change her nappy alone. I then spoke to my husband and told him mostly everything. He was very supportive. I had made a GP appointment the next day and I told her everything, including my fears that my daughter might be taken away from me by social services. She assured me that this would not happen. I was prescribed anti-depressants (Citalopram 10mg) and she told my to see my new GP when we moved house to ask for further help if necessary. My Mum was to come down for a week to look after us (the removal of the brace appointment was that week) and she reassured me that we could then go and stay with Dad and herself for as long as necessary. Then ensued the worst week of my life. THE DEPRESSION Within 2 days of taking medication I felt suicidal. I remember at one stage I was in the city as I had to meet my parents, my husband was at work, I only had 2 hours on my own but I sat in a café and daren‟t move until my parents arrived. I thought I might have to go to security in the shopping centre at one stage and tell them that I needed help and should probably be admitted to hospital. Even when my parents came to collect us I remember pushing the pram and clinging on looking straight ahead in case I threw myself under a bus as I crossed the road. It took me all my time to stare ahead and keep walking. I also felt like opening the passenger door once in the car and throwing myself out whilst it was moving. Having my Mum with me was re-assuring but only due to the fact that she could stop me from doing something to my baby. I felt violent and suspicious to those around me and was scared of knives/razors/anything I could harm myself with. The thought of self-harm was there constantly. All I could try to do was attempt to focus on what the GP had said, “I promise that this illness will be temporary, you will get better!”. That week my daughter‟s hip brace was eventually removed. I could hardly breathe when the radiologist scanned her hips. Fortunately the contraption was removed at last. A small weight was lifted from me. We then proceeded to go up to the North of Scotland to stay with my parents. During my stay I went to the local GP who put the anti-d dose up to 20mg. I forced myself to see friends and family. It was OK telling people about having PND to a certain degree but not about the horrible stuff. My parents were great, they let me sleep through the night, they helped with everything yet did not take over as I felt more depressed at the thought of not being in contact with my baby than I did being with her. It was important for me to care for my daughter myself but I needed constant reassurance. The one thing I could not do was talk to my parents about exactly how I was feeling, as I was too scared they would be horrified. I was very lucky to have retired parents who could help and support me. I feel terror for those who have no one. Apart from the suicidal feelings/fear of hurting my baby symptoms I sometimes felt like shouting at the top of my voice – swearing with words I have probably never even used, although I never did this, only in my head. I felt abusive towards pregnant people when out and about – although never directed any abuse thank goodness. I got freaked out in baby shops when I saw some of the trashy clothes available for little girls. I also could not really bear other people‟s babies as I felt the same towards them as I did my own – fearful of their safety and their vulnerability. I was also fearful of anything happening to my family members. I was petrified of someone dying and leaving me alone. I was also convinced that when I got a headache or similar I had some terrible disease. During this time my wonderful husband packed up our flat in Edinburgh and with the help of my dad carried out the move to our new property.

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY I eventually moved into my new property. For the first 2 weeks I had people with me. My Mother in law helped me unpack boxes and make things homely. Then various friends/parents came to stay and help. At last I was alone in the house during the day with my baby and surprisingly it was not too bad. The horrible stuff was still there but not so severe. My new GP was very understanding and assigned me a CPN immediately. She has been wonderful. She visited every week to talk about everything and anything. She talked through things and explained why I was feeling what I was feeling, offered support and taught me about relaxation, cognitive therapy and self help over the ensuing weeks. I enjoyed Christmas then had a bad time again in the January so my medication was increased to 30mg. Unfortunately my new health visitor has not been a source of support. I forced myself to join a weekly toddler group and a baby swimming class and have gradually made acquaintances and have gained some confidence back over the past 6 months. I still have no job partly because I feel guilt that I have to make up for “lost” time with my daughter. I still have a few bad days each month but in comparison to the initial hell I went through I can now live with these days. The best thing is that now I absolutely adore my daughter. I feel joy when I am with her and each day brings something new as she approaches her 1st birthday. I am currently trying to reduce my medication. My CPN recently put me in touch with a new local family support group who in turn put me in touch with a local voluntary organisation for mental health. I hope to gain support from them as a service user and perhaps can share some of my experiences in order to help others. I have so far yet to meet anyone to talk with „face to face‟ who has shared a common experience although this website has been wonderful – keep up the good work! THE CONCLUSION I constantly analyse why this has happened to me, me who has had a wonderful childhood and has suffered no form of depression ever before. I often wonder whether the combination of having forceps delivery/getting home too soon/my daughters hip brace/moving away from the area had an effect on things. I like Katherine Dalton‟s theories in her book about lack of progesterone causing a hormonal imbalance and a shortage of seretonin which in turn leads to psychiatric illness i.e. PND with a possibility of being left with the lesser evil of PMS after a time. I have spoken to my GP about progesterone treatment in consecutive pregnancies (if we‟re brave enough and lucky enough to fall pregnant again) and she has told me that she is prepared to try anything. If I want progesterone straight after birth then fine, it is great she is so open about things as the thought of going through it all again is a nightmare. I hope no one has been too distressed by this account of my experiences and best wishes to all whom have suffered/are still suffering this terrible illness. Kate xx


				
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