I've been thinking recently about time. It's a strange concept and Albert Einstein once said: "time is an illusion" - I quite agree. I am not going to go off on a tangent about time and does it exist, fear not!
I wanted to write a new post as I realised I haven't written on my blog for a while, and it's been 6 weeks in fact. Six weeks since my last post.
Which is 6 weeks since my miscarriage.
That spiralled my thoughts into thinking down the route of "the baby would be 12 weeks or so now" etc and those important 12 week landmarks in pregnancy. About telling those we were expecting again, proudly showing the scan photos. It was not meant to be. I am no longer crying everyday, although it still hurts.
I then started thinking about my pregnancy with Jack and the emotional upheaval after having him, and it dawned on me - I have been back at work a whole YEAR. Now, for those who are still on maternity leave, treasure every moment, and I am sure you do and will, because I still struggle with the guilt of having to work, and not being with my son every day.
I think for me going back to work so soon (Jack was just 4 months old!) was a horrid experience. I was not expecting to go back so soon, nor was I ready - physically or emotionally.
So, here is (I think!) my blog about my recovery, and what happened after birth...
I had a really, REALLY bad experience after I had Jack. I had an episiotomy which didn't feel right. The following day after Jack was born I asked the midwives to check it out. I was told a stitch had been missed and I should stay in hospital to get it sewn up properly.
I waited most of the day, in between admiring my gorgeous new baby, seeing visitors and having Jack's newborn checks, time passed quickly, but I was eager to get home.
I was eventually told that I could go home and that it would heal ok by itself. At the time I must admit I was relieved, it was fairly sore 'down there' and I didn't fancy more stitches or poking around!
However, a week or so at home, it really hurt and I felt it 'ping'. I was in agony and Paul called the Dr out to us. It had been really hard to sit down anyway, but I was expecting soreness! Breastfeeding Jack sitting in the nursing chair was tiring and sore on my bits. He fed for long periods at a time and in between fell asleep on me, so I felt like I was sitting a lot. Going to the toilet hurt too, Paul even offered to wipe my bum! HA! It must be love ;)
The Dr came out that night and said the stitches had burst. I was in tears as didn't know what this meant. He said it was infected too.
We went to the walk-in clinic the next morning (and coincidentally got a parking ticket and they were going to tow my car! I HAD A TICKET too!) and they sent me to hospital. Jack also had some red crystals in his nappy, that looked like blood, and we were told that he was dehydrated. I felt like such a failure, was he not getting enough milk? I later found out that this is common in breastfeeding newborn babies and was in fact something else know as uric acid crystals or 'brick dust' especially when they are still just taking colostrum. I wish I had known this at the time. I was encouraged to give formula, against my better judgement.
I went to the labour triage ward (not A&E) and they passed me onto the "fanny clinic" (not really called that obvs - it was the perineal clinic) and I was seen for several months after this there, as a weekly outpatient. I saw a fantastic lady called Yemi, and the Dr who delivered Jack too.
The early visits are a bit of a blur to be honest, and I cant remember much. I was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as had such a traumatic recovery, and I believe that people with PTSD this is common to forget such events.
In short, I was seen for several months there.
I was initially told it would heal, but it got infected.
I had loads of antibiotics and painkillers.
I then was told that actually it would be better to operate and recut, restitch. I was in tears as had just (barely) managed to deal with it and it was ever so slowly becoming less painful. (still agony as you can imagine having a gaping hole down there!) The doctors assured me it would not go wrong again and they had done this with other women, and it would be better in the long term. I reluctantly agreed and at just three weeks old, Jack stayed at my mum's house so I could have this operation.
I was knocked out and they began.
I had the top episiotomy surgeon in the country on the case. They also had begun filming and documenting my recovery with photos and videos (with my consent, and not showing my face). Nice to know that somewhere my bits are on display for med students (I imagine!). Yay! Famous lady bits.
When I came around I was in absolute agony, but my lovely Paul was there. They upped the morphine and gave me as much as they could without inducing a heart attack.
Later that day they sent me home armed with painkillers galore and antibiotics to ward off any infections.
It was horrendous.
Can you even imagine how something simple like going to the toilet is when that has been operated on, sliced, stitched etc twice in a month?
It was pure hell.
I remember being so down at the pain and not knowing when it would end was horrid.
I couldn't walk.
Couldn't enjoy my new baby.
A few days later, I felt the infamous ping again and was in pieces. Paul rushed me to the clinic and Yemi called the Dr in. They both looked at me with a look of sadness and sympathy and very apologetic. They gasped how they couldn't believe it and how this shouldn't happen. But it had.
I was hysterical and couldn't stop crying. It had happened again. The stitches had come undone again. Why me? I hadn't done anything apparently to do so.
They suggested I see the Dr for "something to help me cope" without saying the word. I knew they meant crazy pills.
They said they wouldn't redo it a third time unless I wanted them to, but that this time the stitches hadn't all come undone and should still heal ok.
I was put on strict bed rest for a week.
With a newborn who needed me.
We didn't know what to do. I was literally hysterical. We went to the GP who immediately diagnosed me with PTSD and prescribed some Serazette. I said I was breastfeeding. Her answer? That I was more important than breastfeeding and that I needed this. Jack could have formula. Again I was told this. I was in such a dark place. I was battling so much guilt.
I couldn't enjoy Jack, I was constantly in ridiculous agony and crying. Every time I sat to feed him it burned like nothing on earth. I had to pump my breast-milk standing up, as it was easier than sitting down to pump.
This gorgeous little baby who needed me, so helpless, was being failed by the woman who should be helping him the most.
It was the worst time of my life, and it should have been the best time.
Paul's mother, who lives in Norfolk (we are in Surrey!) offered to have Jack for the week so I could rest. Paul was so supportive and urged me to accept the offer. By this point I was so deflated I just agreed. I am eternally grateful to Paul's mother and sister who looked after my tiny newborn that week for me so I could recover. I needed it. But it was also horrendous.
Paul packed up the car that day, with all of Jack's things - his Moses basket, his clothes, nappies, pram. Everything.
He drove off to Norfolk and came back later that evening, empty handed. The flat looked bare. It was like I dreamt the whole thing. I felt so empty. There was no sign of Jack in the house. Except for the physical pain I had.
I spent the week lying down, recovering and also following strict instructions to shower after every toilet trip. Then lie down and "air dry" my bits. So I basically spent the week on the loo, and naked, legs akimbo, whilst quaffing about 50 pills a day.
At the end of the week, Paul went to get Jack.
I was scared.
I felt awful and worried if he would even know who I was, and would he have abandonment issues.
It was super shitty.
I still couldn't sit etc, but at least I had the week to rest.
It was almost Christmas by this point. I had lots of pain down there still and it felt funny.
We saw the clinic again who said I had excess scar tissue. I had probably 1-2 months worth of weekly visits, sorting out said scar tissue. They did this by applying silver nitrate to the wound. Or "burning" it off. It bloody hurt. All the while they were still snapping photos.
Christmas came and went, I couldn't sit down still. This was my darling son's first Christmas and to be honest, it was not a joyful affair. Paul wasn't with us as a family member of his was not well, so I was at my mum's with Jack, whilst Jack got passed around like a parcel and I just lay there, trying to sit, feeling inadequate.
I had many questions about breastfeeding too from extended family members. It's funny how EVERYONE has an opinion on your children and how you bring them up.
I know everyone meant for the best, but I still felt like I had failed Jack.
We mostly formula fed now, but still breastfed too. Mostly in the evening or at night as it seemed to be the only thing that calmed him down. Booby snuggles.
I was told that by the New Year it should be healed.
It took in total over three months before I could even walk without being in pain.
For me that was three months too long.
Three months wasted.
Three months I could not enjoy Jack due to the immense pain and stupid thing.
I was still very much needing to take sertraline. I do not take it any more, but without a doubt, I needed it at that time. It helped me just cope.
I started enjoying motherhood around February/March 2013 and managed to even get out and walk with Jack. This was a huge deal for me as before this walking, sitting etc was a no go. Finally I had my baby boy.
Then I got the dreaded news from a work colleague that she was leaving to move up North.
I literally felt the ground swallow me up. Panic set in.
I forgot to mention, but when I saw the GP who diagnosed me with PTSD, she also immediately referred me to the mother and baby psych team.
They were wonderful and came to me, at home weekly. I saw a fantastic lady called Roisin who was my lifeline in all of this, alongside the medication.
When I saw her, I told her about the work news. The thing is, I HAD to go back. It was my own business. There was no-one else. Whilst I was ever so grateful to my colleague for running it whilst I was off, I was really upset and angry, she was also a friend, and I felt let down. We have since moved on but I was so shocked at the time that a friend would do this, knowing what I was dealing with.
Roisin suggested upping the medication to help me deal with it. She also reassure me that ALL mothers struggle going back to work (although most go back after their babies are 1 year old - she didn't say that, but it's a fact).
I also went to InJoy's Nurture group, which is a free, confidential space for mother's. Rozy, also saved me there.
I spoke in depth (and in tears) about work and everything and how I shouldn't be angry, I should be thankful to my colleague.
Rozy told me that I SHOULD be angry and upset, and it as normal to feel these feelings.
Everyone was so lovely, yet nothing would help. I had to go back to work. I can't believe it's been a whole year back at work.
I would do ANYTHING to be a stay at home mum with Jack. It breaks my heart everyday. Or to at least have had what other mother's have and have longer at home.
I started to resent my colleague for doing this to me, and also resented my own business. If I had any other job, I wouldn't have had to go back so soon.
I was in such a dark place psychologically.
Poor Jack with his adorable smile and loving nature would be taken away from me again. To this day, I still cry about it often. I don't know how to deal with it or get over it.
It makes my blood boil when I hear SAHMs say they are "bored" - I would give anything to stay with my little man. How dare they say such slanderous things!?
The truth is, all mother's feel guilt at some point. I feel I have had my fair share with everything!
When I found out I was pregnant recently, a lot of the above came flooding back. I was scared.
I then had all the emotional upheaval of recognising and trying to deal with what happened before, when I had the miscarriage.
I do not know what will happen if and when we have another baby, but I do not want to ever go through that again.
I will certainly NOT be going back at 4 months with the second child either. It was too horrible.
I don't know why I wrote such a long post, so thank you for baring with me and reading it. I guess I didn't realise how much I needed to write this all down. I cried writing a lot of it, bringing back a lot of negative feelings and bad memories.
I didn't want my first three months of being a mother to have these feelings. But I do.
I look at my gorgeous 16 month old son now with such pride. He is such a loving little boy, always giving cuddles and love to everyone, even the cats and I know I must have done something right somewhere.
|Jack (two weeks ago, before his first haircut!)|