Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum - Part One
In a much earlier post of mine back in April 2014, I announced that we were pregnant with Alfie. That day was full of mixed emotions. Most of them happy, but I did have a few concerns and fears as well. All of which I am sure any new mum would have when faced with the reality that you are going to be responsible for a new little life!
So with this post I am going to go back to that day and talk you through a few key points and events that happened before and during my pregnancy that resulted in my getting diagnosed with Prenatal/ Antenatal Depression. I'll also talk about my labour, recovery and physiotherapy due to my pubic symphysis or SPD. Sit back and relax, it's going to be a long one and also in two parts!
We found out I was pregnant with Alfie on Good Friday, but I have to go back a little further and explain a few things before I talk about that.
I had taken Thursday the 17th off work as there had been an incident involving me and a few of my colleagues that turned nasty quite quickly. I had emailed a coworker the week prior, to advise her the way she had been talking about one of our managers was inappropriate and that she should be careful with voicing these things so publicly in the office. I told her to be mindful as it could be heard by the wrong person, possibly be taken as a form of bullying, and she could end up in a lot of trouble. Unfortunately she took this as me attacking her and told the rest of the office that I called her a bully, which resulted in everyone giving me the cold shoulder. Management then got involved as it was fairly noticeable and I had been seen crying by one of our managers. I had a good two weeks of crying leading up to Good Friday, the co worker involved used to be a very good friend of mine, and I was hurt and upset that she had taken my looking out for her as an attack and that she had rallied the rest of the office to be on 'her side', so with the permission of my manager I had that day off before the long weekend. Funnily enough I was also feeling very sluggish, my breasts ached and I just felt 'funny' and 'off'.
The weekend before this day off Jeremy saw me sitting on the lounge. I was thinking and mulling things over in my mind and he asked me "are you thinking about work?"
"no..... well yes, but I am also thinking about some other things too." I was thinking that I was due for my period but I didn't have my usual tell signs. I did have the thought that I might be pregnant, but with all that had been going on with work I penned it down to stress and that my body was just reacting to the emotions I was currently going through, and that these other feelings (sore breasts, sluggish) were my body's way of dealing with it all.
Jeremy looked at me funny and then asked "what, do you think you're pregnant?"
This really shocked me, how did he know that was what I was thinking? To which I replied, "well yea, actually I think I might be.." He made an awkward laugh and then realised I wasn't joking and quickly ducked out to buy me a pregnancy test kit.
This was on a Saturday and when he came back from the chemist with two tests, I laughed him off and said that it was just me over thinking things. He reasoned with me that it would help with my stress if I did the test and saw that it was negative. I fought it off all day Saturday but on Sunday morning I decided to take the test.
I was surprised that I was disappointed. I came out and told Jez, and I was even more surprised that he was disappointed too! My period was due for Monday/ Tuesday so I shrugged it off and told him that it was silly of me to think that way, my period would come just like it usually does.
Monday came, nothing.
Tuesday came, nothing.
Wednesday came and still nothing. I asked my manager tearily that day if I could have tomorrow off, she said yes and understood how I was feeling - the atmosphere in the office was very tense and people were being very obvious in their exclusion of me.
So Thursday I stayed home, with still no period. It was a nice day (considering), I cried a little to release some of the tension, I painted and read and tried to forget everything that was going on and also had a nap in the afternoon.
Good Friday morning, still nothing. I woke up early and was lying in bed staring at the ceiling. Jeremy saw that I was awake and reminded me that I still had one more test. I couldn't sleep anymore and was also planning to go out with my brother and sister to Thirroul to take pictures, so I got up took the test and then got in the shower while I waited for the result. I had a quick look at the test after a minute and saw that nothing had come up on the screen.
"ok, I'm not pregnant." I though to myself, "I'm just really stressed and my period is late because of it" and went back to washing my hair. I was really working up a lather when I heard Jeremy come in "where's the test babe?"
"on the counter. I was right, I'm not pregnant. I'm just stressed and need to relax."
Jeremy was silent and I assumed he had seen the test and just walked back out of the bathroom. He then scared me when he all of a sudden piped up and said, "babe..... you're pregnant."
I threw the curtain open, with the suds running down my hair, face and back "that's not funny Jez!"
"I'm not joking babe, you're pregnant."
I grabbed the test off him and looked at the screen.
Sure enough a second pink line had started to appear. I was pregnant. I looked up at him, still with shampoo running everywhere, and let out a laugh/ cry/ chortle choke noise. I do believe I said something like "shit" and then laughed nervously again as I crouched onto the shower floor. Jez was smiling at me in an awkward way. He was smoking at that time and I could tell he needed one at that point. I laughed at him and told him to go and have a cigarette. He gave me a quick kiss on the forehead and quickly exited the bathroom and I heard the front door open and shut. Hahah I felt like a cigarette too! Clearly wasn't about to have one though!
So I was pregnant. I finally gathered myself and continued showering before the hot water ran out, got out and dressed. I was meant to be spending the morning with brother and sister for a quick road trip down to Thirroul. I asked Jez if I could tell my siblings and mum, as I was freaking out slightly, and we also agreed that it would be ok to let them know before the 12 week* mark so I had some support from my family if anything were to happen in that time period to me or the baby. *miscarriages are at a higher risk before the first (12 weeks) trimester.
My brother and sister were beyond ecstatic. They could not believe that they were going to be an Aunt and Uncle and throughout the morning either one of them would just stop and say "I cannot believe you are pregnant" or "wow I am going to be an Aunt/ Uncle".
We wrapped up our day around midday, and I organised with Jez to meet me at mums so we could tell her the news together. That was when I got really nervous and so aware of the fact that I was pregnant. I told mum to sit down and took my time in spilling the beans. In that moment I had never felt like more of a child, I was about to tell my mum that I was about to become a mum - I thought to myself 'I am too young to do this' (I was 29 at the time) 'I can't be having a baby, I'm her baby!'
She was thrilled and gave us both a big hug, we laughed and got teary and then I answered all the normal questions "when are you due? How do you feel?" I had only done the pee test so when I went back to work I would have to go to the Dr and get a proper blood test.
It wasn't till later when Jez and I were driving back to our place that it dawned on me. This was going to change our lives, but it was also going to majorly change someone else's. Jeremy's son - I am going to refer to him as "A". I suddenly had a dreaded feeling. He had been an only child for ten years, how is he going to take this news? Jeremy and I had been talking on and off about having kids together, sometimes Jeremy asked his son what he would think about having a baby brother or sister and he would scrunch up his face and say that he would hate it. We decided not to tell him as yet, as we didn't see the point in letting him know and then something happening to me and the baby before 12 weeks.
Easter Monday we hung out with all the family at a nearby park. It was quite funny as Aimee (my sister in-law) had given birth to her firstborn in February, and everyone kept saying to me and Jez "who knows this could be you two soon enough" oh how right they were! It was so hard to keep a straight face and act like they were all 'crazy'. It was also a little disheartening because every time someone did say something "A" would pull faces or groan and look upset. This worried me, as I knew that it was very possible that in a few weeks we would have to break the news to him.
The following week I went to the Dr's. I went to a city medical centre (I worked in the city) as I didn't want to take any more time off work. I saw the Dr on my lunch break. I had to come back at the end of the week for my blood test results, my leg was jittery as I waited nervously for the result. I sat in the Dr's office, who was a big burly man that never cracked a smile, and waited and waited.
"So. Looks like you're pregnant." he finally said without looking away from his computer screen.
"Oh good. Well, my pee test said I was" I tried to get his attention by beaming a big smile at him.
"Well, you're only a touch pregnant. Let's not get ahead of ourselves." he finally looked at me, up and down. "we don't even know if this is a good thing or not."
Huh? My smile dropped, I was speechless. "Oh......" that took me by surprise, what do I say to that?
"So I assume by that smile that you want to keep it?"
"Umm yea, I. Well WE do, yea."
"Sigh. Ok, well like I said you're only a touch pregnant so try not to get ahead of yourself."
Not exactly the way I had envisioned my Dr's appointment was going to be. I left the surgery a little numb and oddly enough second guessing my happiness. I called Jeremy to let him know how it went. Yea, I was pregnant but according to the Dr I shouldn't get my hopes up or be that thrilled about it. Jeremy laughed it off and said to not let it get to me, but I just couldn't shake it off. It had really thrown me. It also then got me thinking, maybe this isn't a good thing? "A" is going to be really upset when we tell him, maybe we are doing this too soon? Maybe this isn't the best thing for us?? Plus my work is making us all redundant by end of October this year, wow this really might be the worst timing! I started to get teary and emotional, so I made my way back to work. I really needed a hug but with things the way there were I couldn't ask my friends at work, because they weren't talking to me anymore nor did anyone know what was happening with me.
Speaking of work, things had gotten no better after the long weekend. If anything it was even MORE noticeable. No one, except the girl next to me and the managers, asked me how my weekend was. Everyone asked everyone else and every time I went to the kitchen they would stop talking or even worse vacate it completely. I also discovered that I had been blocked on both Instagram and Facebook by some of the girls in the office, that was a slap in the face that I did not need. Ergh what a horrible day. Plus I was exhausted and my breasts were achey. My friend who sat next to me did ask me how my weekend was, so when I got back to my desk I showed her a few pics that we had taken over the weekend. I completely forgot that I had taken a snap of my pregnancy test and accidentally scrolled too far to the left. "What was that?" she asked.
"Ahhhh, Hahah crap. It was a pregnancy test."
"Yea. I'm pregnant." Oh it felt good to tell a friendly face the news!
She looked shocked. "OH! Do you want to go to the bathroom to chat?"
"Yes please!" so we went to the bathroom to talk about it. It was so nice to unload and tell her everything, also about how horrible my Dr appointment had been. She gave me a big hug and told me that we could talk and hug it out when ever I needed to. She was amazing and I was so lucky to have her as a friend during my last months at work, especially with all the drama that was happening in our office.
A few weeks later it was Mothers Day. We invited Jeremy's mum, dad and sister Shari over for Sunday lunch after church - we also wanted to let them know about the pregnancy. I was tired all the time, such a debilitating tiredness takes over your body in the first trimester, but otherwise feeling healthy and confident that I would make the 12 week mark. Jeremy broke the news this time and thankfully they were thrilled. It was good for me to see that they were happy about the news, as I had been really stewing over things and freaking myself out over whether or not this baby should come. So for that day I was at ease about my pregnancy.
Not a lot of people know this, but there were quite few times I wondered if I should abort the baby. I would get myself in to such a state, getting upset at how much this would affect "A" and how Jez and I hadn't been together for very long so maybe we were making a mistake. I was being made redundant around what would be the eight month mark, so I was stressing about finances and where we would live on just one income. I don't know about you, but when I was younger I dreamt about the day I would have a baby. What was happening in reality was quite different to those dreams. Don't get me wrong, I was (and still am) completely in love with Jeremy and knew that we were perfect for each other, I just hadn't factored in that it would not be the fairy tale story that I had built up in my mind. I also was dealing with quite a few extraordinary circumstances that most women don't have with their first pregnancy, stress from work, rejection from friends, guilt about "A", worrying about the future, loneliness and missing my former friends. Add to this hormones raging through your body that can make you an hysterical laughing maniac one minute and then a crying sobbing heap the next. Unfortunately for me the crying and sobbing started to become more frequent and I was having far few happy days in between.
Jeremy and I had started arguing too, mostly about "A" and how this was going to effect him. I voiced to Jez that maybe we shouldn't put "A" through this and I should get an abortion. I've never seen Jez so mad. He debunked that idea of mine and told me not to think that way, I promised him I wouldn't - but it was still something I toyed with every now and again.
The next day I tearily told my mum that I was worried about telling "A". She suggested telling him before we announced it, so he wouldn't feel like he was the last to know and that he might be upset at first but he would most probably warm to the idea eventually. Jez agreed with this idea so when we got "A" for the weekend Jez took him out to McDonalds to let him know.
I was so nervous while they were out, I couldn't settle or get comfortable and had a bit of a cry. After an hour or two I heard the car pull in. "A" walked in first followed by Jeremy.
"What do you say to Amanda?"
"Congratulations on the baby" he said sheepishly, scuffing his foot on the floor.
"Oh thanks man" I said with a smile, and with that he went into his room to play computer.
"How did it go?" I asked Jez once I knew "A" couldn't hear us.
"Really well" he said with an assuring smile "I told him that we had a secret and that he wouldn't be able to tell anyone until we say he can, and then I told him that it was exciting news - that he was going to be a big brother. He looked confused at first but then he slowly realised what that meant, he did drop his head and look upset but then when I asked him what he was concerned about he said that: he didn't want the baby to bother him when he was playing computer; he didn't want to hear it cry all the time and that he didn't want to be covered in baby poo and vomit."
I laughed "well if they're his only concerns, then I think we will be fine." It made me feel better, but it didn't last long.
Soon after I entered the second trimester. My mum, sister and parents in law spread the news on FB - Jez and I aren't really into posting on FB about personal stuff so we said that they could if they wanted too, but it didn't take long for the news to spread and we were quickly inundated with warm well wishes and congratulations. It was very nice to read all these nice things but I just couldn't get happy. It did ease my tension a little bit but all the other worries and bad thoughts kept sneaking back into my mind. "A" had started acting up at home, he would get upset and quite mad if he overheard any of us talking about the baby - the guilt came flooding back. It broke my heart to see him so upset about being a big brother. I googled how late in the pregnancy you can be to get an abortion. I felt ashamed about doing this but I just didn't want to be the one responsible for "ruining" "A's" life. This obviously wasn't going to be the case, but I wasn't in the right state of mind - I was quickly slipping into a slump and it was an email from a pregnancy subscription that made me realise that I might be actually experiencing antenatal depression.
I wasn't eating properly, I had actually lost my appetite altogether. It was only because I knew my baby needed food that I would eat at all. But I could go for hours without feeling hungry and would sometimes accidentally skip lunch because I was too busy trying to keep up with the work load (people were quitting before the redundancy came into affect) and then when I got home the smell of cooking food make me ill, so I would not want to eat dinner either. I also wasn't sleeping well, I have always been a deep sleeper and now any sound or movement made me wake up with a start. Not to mention just falling asleep was difficult, thoughts racing through my mind about all sorts of things. I was lethargic and fatigued, my body ached all the time and I was just so weepy. All of these things were part of this depression checklist that I had just been emailed. When Jez picked me up from work that afternoon, I hesitantly told him that I thought I might be depressed. Then I started crying. I called in sick to work the next day and booked myself in to see the Dr. As soon as I sat down and she asked me how I was, I broke down. I told her everything that was happening or had happened. Once I had finished she looked at me with tears in her eyes.
"Oh honey, you have been going through so much and with that little baby zapping you of all the important nutrients your body and brain needs to stay healthy. I have to let you know that you are severely depressed." She got up and gave me a big hug because I had begun sobbing again - upset with myself that I had let myself get to this point, I was so wracked with guilt because I had let this happen. I was obviously not in the right frame of mind. She asked me questions about what type of thoughts I had been having, when she got to the self harming and suicidal thoughts I broke down even more. She gave me another hug and waited till I stopped crying.
We then talked over the next steps. Medication. I was worried, will this harm my baby? The Dr explained that although baby would get small amounts of my medication, there were no harmful or proven side effects that would harm the baby and that NOT taking the medication was far more dangerous. My thoughts of abortion, worthlessness and guilt could lead to more serious things like self harming or even suicide and seeing as I had already toyed with those ideas this was the best thing for me.
I went to the chemist and got the prescription filled. I went home and googled like mad the side effects and what they would do to the baby. I cried some more as I felt like such a failure, the baby wasn't even here yet and I was not being a good mother. Jez had also taken the day off and came to the lounge where I was sitting and held me while I cried. He then reassured me that it would all be ok and that taking the medication was the best thing for me to do. I was on a very low dosage and from what I could find on the internet, nothing ever happened to the babies born from mothers on medication. I decided to medicate.
After a few weeks of taking the medication I could feel the difference. My head felt lighter. I thought more clearly and I was able to laugh more at work and at home. I had told my manager what had happened and HR organised for me to only work four days a week until the redundancy in October. That also helped, having a rest day every Wednesday helped me reload and relax. I still had my teary moments, but I was able to get myself out of them quicker and didn't feel as despondent as I used too. I started to not care that people at work didn't like me, and I focused on new friendships I had made and made sure I had frequent lunches with them to help take my mind off things.
"A" was still making faces every now and again, but I didn't let it get to me like I used to. I reminded myself how much fun and love siblings bring and that he didn't know this, but would soon learn how cool it was to be a big brother. I was eating more regularly and making sure I took prenatal vitamins to help my body and mind, I was getting back to normal.
On October 31st my office was made redundant. It was such a relief to finish up. The office had become such a tense and sad place that I was glad to see the end of it. Jez and I had also decided to move to my mums house after I finished work, as we had no idea how much I would get from the government for the baby and because I was being made redundant I was not getting maternity leave. So we packed up our house in the first week of November and moved to my mums. I felt good, it was like a fresh start. Finished my job and moved to a new house where we had my family's ongoing support, I was really feeling good about things. I talked to my maternity nurses about how good I was feeling and asked them if they thought I could start weaning myself off my medication. I could see the benefits but also wondered whether I could do it on my own, now that a lot of my stresses had been alleviated. With their guidance and approval I started to wean off my medication.
In November we held our baby shower, and also revealed to everyone the gender of the baby. It was such a good day and everyone was thrilled that we were having a little boy. We were so blessed with presents and cards, his nursery was pretty much ready after that one afternoon! Not long after that it was December and bubba's due date, the 25th, was getting closer. For those that saw me, they can testify as to how freaking huge I had gotten! Because of my lack of eating for the first half of my pregnancy I had actually lost quite a bit of weight so I looked like I was smuggling a watermelon under my clothes. It was also the middle of summer and it was HOT. Sleeping became more difficult and uncomfortable, but mentally I was doing fine. A lot of people asked me if I was nervous about giving birth, but it was never something that frightened me. I knew it would hurt, but it would only be a small part of the whole picture. I wasn't in denial, just for some reason the thought of childbirth never scared or worried me.
Christmas day came and went but no sign of baby. I wasn't wishing for him to come, because I knew that once he was here that would be it from that day on, I was savouring my last few days before it would change forever.
It wasn't until the 30th that I had my first early contractions early in the morning.But that's a story for part two, have to leave something for you to read there!