Pregnancy after miscarriages and suffering perinatal & postnatal depression

This is how I described what I went through in a newsletter when pregnant with my son.

I would like to share something that is quite personal. It is not to get pity. It is simply in the hope that my story can help some of you who are struggling right now.

Today is a very emotional day for me. Yesterday, my baby boy who is not really a baby anymore, turned 15 months. Today, I had my last session with the perinatal psychologist at UCLH, Claudia de Campos, with whom I have spent almost two years after starting to see her when I was 11 weeks pregnant with him.

When I went for my booking-in appointment with him at 10 weeks, I completely broke down. It was the first time I had been back in that part of the hospital since my previous pregnancy. That last time on 10 August 2012 in the middle of the London Olympics, we learned that the baby girl I was expecting wouldn’t survive outside the womb. It is something you never ever think you will go through. It simply doesn’t exist in your mind. But, there we were. And, what we had to go through was simply too horrible to put into words. It will never completely go away and it is in me forever. I have learned to live with the pain and loss.

We never thought we would have the guts to try again, but we decided over a year later that we would give it one try. One last try.

This was to be pregnancy number seven and it was to be my little boy who is now snoring away in his cot in the next room as I write this.

Going back into that part of the hospital where we had learned that horrible piece of news brought it all back again and more vividly than I had ever imagined it could. My midwife was simply amazing. Her name is Carol Pitterson. I will never forget her or her name. Not only did she refer me to the perinatal psychology team, but she also referred me to the fetal medicine unit where I was taken care of by the wonderful Dr Fred Ushakov. All of this without me asking. They helped carry me during this extremely difficult pregnancy. It was emotionally sometimes too much to cope with, but knowing I had my weekly session with Claudia was my lifeline as well as my many scans with Dr Fred.

The fact that I was suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) didn’t help and I had already been hospitalised, on a drip in UCLH at 8 weeks. I was bed bound and couldn’t care for my daughter. My husband was a single father for most of the pregnancy with our son.

Once it became clear that everything was going well, I was terrified something would happen during labour. I couldn’t connect with the boy I was carrying because I was too terrified that I would lose him just like I had lost the little girl and the other babies.

Labour – on the due date just like his big sister five years earlier – was so unbelievably fast compared to the 26,5 hours in 2009. And then something did happen. I just couldn’t get him out. He was stuck. What had been very calm (and quick), became an emergency. I later learned it was shoulder dystocia. I had no idea that he had been born, I didn’t hear him scream and I couldn’t hold him for about 20 minutes. We also didn’t know if he would be fine for over 24 hours. It was extremely traumatic. When I was being stitched up, the midwife who managed to get him out came in to apologise for ruining my insides to get him out. In this case, we were incredibly lucky he was completely fine.

My therapist Claudia came to see us in hospital the following day and I saw her regularly again from when my son was a month old.

With my son, I was lucky enough to realise that I was getting postnatal depression again, and because I already had the support from everyone, it didn’t get as bad as after having my daughter. But, the reason it didn’t get that bad was because I was able to recognise the early signs and ask for help.

For the past year, I have seen Claudia at first every two weeks and then once a month. It has been such an important part of my recovery, together with having a great GP and health visitor who have looked after me. I have also tried to take extreme care of myself to help myself recover.

The moral of the story is this: please speak with someone if you are worried. Even if you don’t think it is bad. If there is something nagging you (even if it might seem tiny and insignificant), speak up about it if you can. Don’t try to be superwoman, because it doesn’t work (at least not in the long run). Ask for help. We can’t do this alone.

There is NOTHING WRONG with asking for help. You are not a lesser person or less able to cope; rather the opposite. If you can, try to let people help you. Even if it is sending you off to have a nap while they look after your baby; I will always be grateful to my wonderful friend Becky for doing that for me.

There is support out there. Cocoon Family Support and their founder Jessica Warne got in touch with me after I wrote a newsletter about this. Jessica offered to come around to see me. In the end, I didn’t need it, but perhaps because I knew she was there, it gave me a bit of extra strength.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to tell your midwife, GP or anyone you are struggling. There is help available on the NHS (all of mine was on the NHS), but often you won’t get it unless you ask. Persevere if you have to. If you struggle to speak for yourself, ask someone to champion for you.

I hope that for those of you who are struggling right now, you might feel less alone. I hope you feel there is hope after all, and that this might help give you the strength to ask for help. This is for you.

Karin x

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