Monday, 23 December 2013

Panic Attack

Last night I had a panic attack, first one in ages. Things have been so much more positive... Life has been moving on.

But the past few weeks I've felt it creeping all back in until last night it floored me. I felt a bit crazy. Like one of those women you read about in the news that kills herself due to PND. But that's not me and I dont know where those swirling thoughts sprung up from. I do know I need to get a good grip again before things get out of hand.

Trouble is, I have an awesomely supportive and servant hearted husband and the most placid, calm and cute almost 2 year old, so my age old question to myself is "what is your problem woman?"

One day, I will wake up, shake this off, snap out of it, move on, grow up and chill out. I just really wish that day had already happened. Evidently yesterday was not the day. But it will come, because I can't behave like this forever.



Monday, 24 June 2013

talking

Yesterday we went out for lunch. With real people. Humans who I haven't seen in years. I was really aware that 1) I haven't socialised with non-family people in months and 2) so much has happened to both our families in 5 years that I wasn't sure how we would navigate our way through recent history without any communication hiccups.

I guess I needn't have been so worried, they are still absolutely lovely and we had a nice time. They have 2 boys aged three and six, both loved Skittle so it worked well for playtime! 



The thing I noticed most though was that I haven't talked trauma for a really long time, I haven't seen anyone that asked "so what happened?" and "what can you remember?" in ages. So I talked, I gave a reasonably brief-but-detailed-in-places kind of account of Skittles arrival. And much as it made butterflies swirl in my stomach and my hands go shaky, I didn't have that awful extended reaction I used to have to musing over the past. 



I didn't tell the story and then disappear into my own mind for days, withdrawing from everything including Skittles. I didn't struggle with heaps of guilt or think about self harming. I didn't get stuck in NICU memories. I just felt a bit fragile and vulnerable for the duration of the convo and then gave Skittle an extra long squeeze and gazed a little longer into his deep blue eyes, remembering all I'd just said. 

Yay. 

I do believe i may have finally made some progress on the emotional/mental health side of things. Thank God. 



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

mothers day confession

I would love to have been pregnant on Mother's Day to know that special silent bond, a private Mother's Day with much anticipation. 

I admitted something to some counsellors the other day that I've never said out loud before. It was on my list of secret things I'd never say. Locked in a cavern of depression. Filed under scary things I can't believe I thought. 

I felt rushed into being pregnant. Which in turn made me worried that our motives weren't pure love. Which in turn filled me with the bitterest of guilt that somehow that meant I didn't want my baby. 

I really wanted him. I still really want him. I am inexplicably blessed to have him.

We were rushed though. Drs who basically said "it's now or never". I am not even sure I could have told you I felt rushed at the time. Hindsight it just showing it that way.

Being pregnant will cure your pain. But you may not be able to get pregnant. You will probably fall pregnant but it could be hard. Sub fertility. This surgery will improve your chance of falling pregnant for about 6 months. Etc. Etc.

We weren't going to start trying until the summer. But everything was set to fast forward.

All those question marks + previous miscarriage + fear of loss + illness = difficulty bonding with the baby in the womb.

Gushing, crushing guilt. Eurgh. 

Being pregnant wasn't what I imagined. Tenderly caressing my swelling tummy wasn't on the cards. Taking hundreds of photos to document the incredible journey was awkward. Writing my future child love notes was a very thought filled decision. Why did none of this come naturally to me? 

I guess my naturalness issues began long before NICU and indeed NICU itself didn't really help the issues I already had. 

And right now my darling skittle is sat next to me and all that've just written makes me feel like I've failed him. Big time. Poor boy, if I could be pregnant with you again my sweet son, I would. Even if it killed me, I'd shower you with affection and I'm sure it wouldn't be an effort, it would be a joy. Deep joy, to bond with you early. To love you without fear of loosing you.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

PND musings

The swirls of my PND brain, from 21st March

Could I be more of an epic failure of an excuse of a mother? Having spent the last 24hrs with 2 friends and their babies it's clear to see what a mess I've made. My poor baby. It's a good job he has Adam and other family members near by. My friends excel. Like really glide through the day, feeding, playing, chatting, emersing themselves in the wonder of it all. Embracing the beautiful child in their care and it's so sweet to see. I listened to my friend coo and sing during a nappy change and thought about the silent version of our own. I looked on at their joy and delight and my failure and shame tried to pin me down. What have i done? My poor baby. He barely smiled today, left with me while daddy went out, watching his happy baby friend and enthusiastic mummy, wondering what on earth was happening and wondering why his own mummy was so useless. He wasn't chatty or chirpy, he didn't look at me much and rejected my milk. I scanned down my lovely friends calendar at the play dates listed gloriously one day after another. Her son is getting such a great start, such a nurtured beginning and sociable roots. Skittle is over a year and I can count on one hand the number of proper baby things I've done with him. Why why why? What is the freakin matter with me. My poor baby. I tried today, I tried really hard. I played and giggled and made funny faces and sang and nothing, just a blank expression. What if he can't stand me? 


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

turning a corner

This week on I <3 my preemie Facebook group, someone asked what people's experience was with PND. I quickly wrote a brief summary of the treatment route I had...

My GP sent me for counselling session at the surgery, counsellor assessed and talked to dr about anti depressants. Dr referred me to psychiatrist, put me on medication gradually increasing over the course of a month, saw me weekly herself and recommended a bit of fresh air, but hadn't left the house in five months so recognised exercise probably wasn't going to happen. A few weeks later, to avoid sectioning me, my GP signed my husband off work so that I wasn't alone for 2 months. I saw the psychiatrist who recommended a post natal therapy specialist, I booked an introductory session there (quite pricey but worth every penny), went there weekly for 6 months. Basically tried a whole combination of treatments and they all have helped in different ways...wouldn't have managed with only one type I don't think. Hope that's helpful, sorry it's a bit long, just wanted tot show you the process took quite a while xx

Actually it ended up not being that brief! But it just wasn't and I hadn't really looked back at the process before now and it surprised me. It was so awful back then. Sort of this time last year, May/June time was the worst. It was so dark and dismal and bleak. 

And it's taken a while to gradually emerge from that place of despair but in the last few weeks I can honestly say I think we may have finally turned a corner. Had a bit of a breakthrough. I haven't felt so blue, exhausted or negative. I've enjoyed things more and felt good. And that realisation makes me so happy and so grateful. 

Here's to more corners and more breakthroughs! 

Monday, 6 May 2013

the wonder of you

One of my favourite things to do is sit and watch Skittle play when he doesn't know I'm watching him. Last night I laid on our bed and watched him really carefully sorting through the nappy bag sat in the hallway while he thought I hadn't realised he was rummaging!

Out flung nappies, socks, random toys and sun cream until the treasure emerged...breadsticks! His little eyes. He couldn't believe he'd found them without me noticing. Alas I had noticed and no matter how fast he was, I had to win because it was really bed time and the four little toothy pegs had already been brushed. Meany mum.

We were on to bedtime number 2, bedtime number 1 hadn't been successful and an hour and half of playing later we tried again. I thought about being grumpy that I hadn't had much evening time, miffed I still don't seem to have a babe that sleeps through...but then I just watched him and played and clapped and cheered as we posted the little coloured letters in our wooden red post box hundreds of times. I watched him try things out and realise something new. I noticed those cute teeth and the way he screws up his nose like I do. I saw how he gently touches something with one finger to check its ok.

And I thought oh well about my evening. Do I really care about putting my feet up? Well maybe sometimes, but yesterday evening it was so nice to have an extra play time and study my Skittle for a while. One day I won't get to do that anymore and these years go so fast so I chose to enjoy it and make the most of it.

Tonight he's in bed at the right hour and my feet are up and the chocolate is open just FYI.

this week in photos

























Sunday, 28 April 2013

this week in photos



















funny old day

Yesterday was such a funny old day. Skittle was a bit out of sorts in the morning and has been for a few days really. It was the morning of my fundraising sale that I had been preparing for for weeks. Hubs has the weekend off work, which at the moment is pretty unheard of due to operation-overtime. I really didn't want to leave Skittle all morning but knew a manky Church Hall (I know not all Church Halls are manky, but this one was) was not the best place for him. Plus a morning with Daddy would be fun for him.

Excuse my wittering.

So, the day. It was a really big deal for me to be brave and stand there with things I'd made on show and be sociable and chatty. I found it exhausting and was so pleased my Grannie and Grandma were there to run the show. I was also acutely aware of why I was there, it was something I felt strongly about and was so pleased I appear to have finally made steps from "NICU trauma is all I think about" to, "let's do something positive with our NICU experience." Hurrah.


But that hour and a half without Skittle was no fun. No fun at all. When hubs brought him back I actually packed up the stall early so that we could just go home and be together. Turns out being separate from him still really effects me. I know without the NICU separation I may well have not like leaving him, but it's the fear that goes with it I think, NICU still has it's part to play. When other people say "oh all mums are like that" I think no, some mums don't have a clue what it's like.

Then in the afternoon, Skittle went down hill and after a demanding morning I didn't cope well with his whimpers of pain and constant tears. I found myself watching him constantly, on edge, wondering what was about to happen. You know, that incubator feeling. What now? What next? What signs should i be looking for?

He's probably just teething mama, give it a rest.

All in all, a funny old day. Lots of positives, lots of realisation, lots of anxiety.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

on the other side

Before I got pregnant or even knew whether or not I would ever be pregnant, I used to be driven crazy by the number of pregnant people I saw every time I went out in public. If they weren't obviously glowing with roundness, I would be wondering whether or not they were in their first trimester and carrying a wonderful secret with them everywhere they went.

After our second miscarriage this only got worse! I can remember taking a train from Waterloo back down to Dorset and between our flat, the tube ride, walking through the station and boarding the train I counted 27 obviously pregnant or new mums with babes. I was driving myself mad and these will I ever be, can I ever be thoughts were getting a bit consuming.

Now that I'm on the other side of that wall, I wonder if there are other hurting women looking at me in the same way? Or even friends who are caught in the fertility taboo and don't feel able to talk about it. I wonder if I'm walking along with Skittle strapped in the carrier or pushing the pram and women see us and are filled with sorrow like I was 2/3 years ago. Probably.

Sometimes I think maybe I should wear a T shirt that says, this-didn't-come-easy or sub-fertility-nearly-meant-this-couldn't-happen etc. The thought of me and Skittle being the cause of other women's pain makes me sad.

I wish women would talk about miscarriage, fertility, loss, pain, post natal depression and all the other thing that come along for the ride. I wih we could be more open and compassionate with each others stories. Especially when we've not been through the same, but just choose to show empathy, sympathy and sensitivity.

Ladies on the other side, don't suffer in silence, don't let it consume you, every mother or mother to be you see is not leading a stress free, pain free life. Everyone is on a journey. Let's talk about it. If you want to.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

nightmare

Warning: this is pretty graphic in places. Just don't read it if you're PTSDish or have any kind of sensitivity regarding c sections. Don't read it if you're squeamish or grossed out by blood.

This is how I slept last night. I just want to write it down, as an experiment really, to see if writing down my nightmares makes them less real. Makes them go away. Makes it so that when I lie down at night I'm not picking up where I left off.

Skittle had been in NICU for seven months and the girl in the bed in front of us had had her baby in there for a year. Time was long, there was nothing we could do to make it speed up. The girl in front of us had long, blonde, wavy, frizzy hair, like she'd worn it in plaits when wet and let them out once it had dried. Me and hubs were sat either side of Skittle with his CPAP face and the NICU room span with activity and medical mayhem. All around me, on every side there were things going on that I didn't understand or didn't want to see, I wanted to be alone with my baby but instead I was in the middle of a ward that resembled a spinning top. A spinning top with no walls, a room with no boundaries.

I ran away so many times. Up a long drive way to the side of this imaginary hospital. Sometimes hubs would come after me, sometimes I would meet the blonde lady. She wouldn't talk to me because her baby had been in there longer and she said our situation didn't count.

The insane scene just got more harrowing, NICU was also theatre and was also recovery. Next to us a woman was about to have her c section, her stomach was cut open from her rib cage to her groin and blood and muscle and tissue was exposed but they couldn't get the baby out safely. She screamed and tried to roll over and her husband tried to stop her. I cowered behind Skittle's incubator and tried to focus on him and nothing else, but it was too late. I fainted, sliding underneath the table and waking up covered in blood.

In recovery there's screaming, despair and death. Confusion and tubes scattered everywhere.

Sweaty, cold and exhausted I drift back into consciousness and realise Skittle has not been in NICU for seven months, I have not run away, my scar only goes from my belly button to my groin and its not reopened. I am in bed, next to Skittle, I can feel hubs, everyone is breathing.

On goes the phone, it'll take me a while to block that out and get back to sleep.

I guess it's just PTSDishness that makes me dream like this. It's not every night, thank goodness. But it doesn't make for restful nights. One day I might sleep peacefully again, maybe around the time Skittle sleeps through the night...that could be good!

another baby

We can't have another baby for many reasons. I thought of another one today.

What if it all went well?

It would be awful. I would know every single little thing that Skittle should have had. I would have everything with another child that I could not have with him. A birth, skin to skin, seeing them, being with them, holding them, hearing them, dressing them, feeding them, changing them, bathing them, closeness, relationship, tenderness. Everything me and Skittle didn't have, or didn't have for such a long time.

I just couldn't let that happen. The guilt, the comparison, the knowing what it should have been like.

This thought hit me like a slap in the face while walking through the bus station today, I couldn't really tell you how I got from there to sainsburys for overwhelming, swirling brain motions that made me feel light headed.

It's a jolly good job another pregnancy might kill me then. I owe it to Skittle to never have another.

really?

Really, 14 months have passed. It'll soon be Skittle's due date. Babyhood is over, he is taking steps, understanding words, eating finger foods and wearing big boy clothes.

Can't help but feel I've failed. Can't help but feel I should be fine by now. Can't help but think everyone, including the blog world has had enough of hearing it. I've stopped talking to other people about it, not that I really talked to anyone in the first place. You see I'm feeling a bit lonely, I don't really have any friends. The 2 good friends I had in London are now miles away. I've always been crap at making friends, and feeling anxious and depressed doesn't make one jump at the opportunity to go and socialise.

But I should, for Skittles sake, be out and about. Helping him meet other babies. But what about his immune system? What if he gets poorly again? Blood test on Monday...maybe if the results of this one are good we could perhaps venture out? Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe I should find another counsellor. But then I would have to tell them things that I really feel are best left locked up in my brain and not uttered to anyone. If I say them out loud they might happen. That would be terrible. Beyond terrible.

Maybe I should just pull myself together. I do try. It's all over now. Get a grip. Move on. I fight for a while but then I get tired and it feels like the depression just grabs me by the ankles and woosh, I'm face down on the floor, grappling to get up again.

Stop moaning Hannah, stop mulling and stop musing. Just stop. Stop.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

click

I used to be quite a tearful person I think. Hopefully not overly so, but I mean, I would well up at a touching story or have a little weep at a moving documentary. I had emotions, I felt sadness, compassion, anger, hurt, empathy in what I considered to be healthy proportions.

I  guess I'm just trying to say I'm kind of sensitive. Or at least I was.

I used to like just having a good cry. Or even just a little cry. A let-it-all-out-and-you'll-feel-better kind of cry.

This fascet of my personality appears to have upped sticks as it were. I can count on one hand the number of times I've cried since Skittle came home. After sobbing for about a month, when he was transfered from high dependancy to low dependancy that was it, click. Emotions switched off.

Maybe not all emotions. I'm not now the tin woman. I hope I still have the capacity to be moved, at least for the sake of others. But in terms of appropriate reactions, I'm annoying myself.

Why can't I just cry? Be sad, let-it-all-out? Instead I often feel numb, blank, distant. Anger no longer takes the form of a good, strong minded discussion/letter/complaint but a fairly strong urge to self harm because I am so stuck I don't know how to express what I want to feel.

Blumin NICU, it has so much to answer for. At least I think it was NICU. Maybe I'm just talking rubbish and these ramblings make no sense. Leanna talks about mummy-bot...I think she understands all this better than I do. I'm so thankful for other premmy mummy blogs, to help me unravel and get clarity.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Is it just me?

Maybe it's just me. I expected something to happen last week. I expected a shift, a change, a memory, something. But nothing, really.

I was aware of it. In a try not to think about it, but really it's all I can think about, kind of way. I wanted to feel. To be emotional. To make up for the numbness and the detachedness but no. There were no tears, no break downs, no getting through a whole box of tissues. Just a bit more blankness and the odd bit of welling up.

I am pretty disappointed with myself if I'm honest. I read on I love my preemie group and other prem mum networks that they're all blubbing days before the first birthday. So what's wrong with me? It's not that I wanted to be miserable or sad for no reason, I just wanted to be emotionally more progressed I suppose.

Maybe I'm not even making any sense.

Knowing that I wouldn't want to sit at home thinking "this time last year" minute by minute, we booked to go to centerparcd for the week. We booked a lovely apartment in Redwoods and settled in for a week of memory making. Skittle was a bit snivelly but we were confident it was just teething and went on a merry way. We did do quite a bit of "this time last year" I was really aware of what time it was all day every day. On the 4th of Feb I kept saying to hubs I don't remember this or that due to all the memory loss, on the 5th Feb I had him take a photo of the 3 of us about 15 mins after Skittle was delivered because I wanted to mark the togetherness at a time when last year hubs was stood quivering in an office alone, wondering if we were alive or if he'd be alone forever. I was really keen for it to get passed 1.30pm on the 6th Feb, knowing that that was the time after more than 24 hours that I got to see Skittle for the first time, even if I cant remember it. Grief.

I was thankful. Thankful that we were together. That we had him, that our NICU story had a happy ending and that we had a birthday to celebrate. And guilt. I felt guilt for still struggling with my emotions when we are all fine now. Everyone says it. "But you're all fine now." That phrase probably deserves a post of it's own.

So Skittle is 1. And I am so blessed to be his mummy and so grateful that we made it this far!










this time last year

This time last year I was in my last couple of weeks of pregnancy. My blood pressure was seriously low, I fainted often, was in pain, had acid reflux, could barely eat, was still sick, spent most of the day in bed, couldn't work, my hips were getting more and more loose, I needed crutches to walk, my bladder was on strike and I was extremely anaemic. I didn't know how I was going to last 12 more weeks.

But then I didn't have to. 2 more weeks was all I managed. My body gave up, I drifted in and of consciousness and stirred when I heard the words "we're going to have to deliver your baby now, we fear for your life."

I can't stand the thought of being pregnant now, I struggle to look at pregnant people, I think about my own pregnancy and shudder. I hate how the word pregnant looks and that I've written it so many times in this post. I know some people have the most wonderful time. The words bloom, blossom and radiant look so much nicer. Sound so much more enjoyable.

This time last year. Those words are on my lips and running through my mind on repeat at the moment, I shall be glad when these 12 weeks are over too, to get through the birthday, the NICU anniversary and up to the due date. And breathe a big sigh of relief, until next year, where I shall probably do it all again.

The thinking that it is. Not the P thing, that I shall never do again.


Friday, 8 February 2013

Matilda Mae


Dearest lovely Jennie
The mummy we all love so
Our hearts are breaking for you
More than you could know

Your pain is overwhelming
The grief so hard to bare
The world should stop its turning
To show how much we care

If we could lift your burden
Somehow lessen the blow
We would stand beside you
Holding hands, we love you so

This time you’re in, this darkness
This frightening new depth of despair
We pray you’ll find sweet peace around you
In time, a way to bare.

You’re heart is quite remarkable
Beautiful, sweet and tender
Inspiration in you, it knows no bounds
Shown for baby tilda.

Your blog posts simply stunning
The words you carefully choose
Show us your inner beauty
Unique and precious it’s true

Your darling sweet Matilda Mae
Smiling, beaming girl
She was too precious to stay here long
Far too angelic for this world

Her nine months here are treasured
In oh so many lives
The mothering you gave to her
The deepest love, it shines.

We’ve followed you on twitter
Checking how you’re doing
We’re looking at all your pictures
Emotional and moving

The mummy world is hurting
Wish there was something calming to say
Just know that we all hold you in our thoughts
Your family and sweet Matilda Mae




Wednesday, 23 January 2013

the hard part really starts

"Now the hard part really starts!"

Are you freaking joking?! I have spent the best part of two months separated from my son. My tiny son who we thought was going to die. And now I am counting down the hours until rooming in day and therefore being with him forever and you say to me "now the hard part really starts".

The look of utter disbelief etched into my face wasn't usually enough to inspire people to back track. Hubs was on the receiving end of this comment far more frequently than I was and as is his nature, was far more gracious than I was. My response was generally stare straight into their eyes and say sternly, fiercely and somewhat rudely "nothing is as hard as leaving your baby in hospital and coming home without them every night for weeks, I'm fairly sure it is only going to be easier from now."

And of course, there are, have been and will be forever hard bits, that's just parenting isn't it? But over the last year I still haven't thought of anything hard er than leaving your baby in NICU. So no, for me the hard bit didn't start with rooming in. For me it marked the fact that the very hardest part was over.

This post was inspired by the discussion Leanna from www.diaryofapremmymum.blogspot.com started over on Facebook about rooming in. Her post 'doors' is excellent, as is Christina's brilliant post over on www.mommy-beadzoid.blogspot.com ...if you're looking for something less petty than my ramblings!

Friday, 18 January 2013

snow


Staring blankly out the window at the falling snow. Knowing I should be doing something more important but struggling to focus or concentrate. Wishing the cars driving passed would stop. The slush makes it loud. And right now I want quiet. Leave me alone world I want to get my head round this memory I'm trying to trudge out from the depths. Last year I missed the snow completely. London was at a stand still in thick snow that made it hard for anyone to get around. I was strapped to a bed, trapped by wires and monitors drifting in and out of consciousness as the night turned to white. I remember seeing a few flakes from the window as my blurry eyes stared blankly and fearfully across the room. But really I don't remember much. Just fear. Just thinking I was going to die and I would never see hubs again and Baby wouldn't get to live.

I love snow. This morning before hubs went to work we took Skittle outside in the dark to experience his first glimpse of the good stuff. He seemed impressed ...and confused as to why we would take him outside in the dark and pull him around in a box. But today my mind flashed back to last year. And mercifully the traffic has paused to give me the chance to get my head sort of round it. As usual though I can't. I can't feel the way I want to, think the way I want to. I want to be less numb in the hopes I move forward.

But today has a happy ending, as did last years snow day. Skittle lived. Skittle lives. Thankful doesn't come close.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

catch up

So I've been away from the blogging scene for a little while, it's been a challenging few months with some real dizzy highs and some deep dark lows. I know I've done a few random posts here and there but yesterday we got internet to our new flat, so blogging and reading blogs will become a whole lot easier again!

Here's what we've been up to...