Maternal mental health and me

Part 4 - new house-new baby

 

We settled in our new house in September 2009, getting used to living together again as a family, we had more room and we made the boy's rooms special getting bunk beds for the younger two. Reagan and Dylan would often climb into my bed and Reagan was still not the best sleeper though when we moved house they settled so well in their own room and the wakeups became non-existent.

 

We were both working with me still at the nursery and the boys were at school and we made time for fun times at the weekend and holidays. We were content with our family life, new years came, and I didn’t sit in tears making empty resolutions, instead, I was excited for the year ahead. I was planning on doing my degree and I was so excited! By the end of  January, I felt awful though, and I just knew I was pregnant. Eek, we had just got used to things how they were, would things go back to being awful again?`

 

It was so odd this time as I instantly knew I was pregnant; I still can’t fathom how I didn’t know with Dylan. The first few months were filled with trepidation as I always feared another miscarriage, however, aside from sickness and tiredness things went fine. Marc and I were both quite scared, though we didn’t admit to each other that we were terrified that this would be us back to square one.

 

I was terrified of the depression coming back and how things would be as a family of six, we had just got over the baby stage and at last the sleepless nights too. Anxiety began to creep in again, it was also hard to hide my growing bump. With the other three boys, I never had much of a bump yet with this one I had an obvious bump at 10 weeks. Marc was convinced it was twins and trying to hide it became difficult. A scan confirmed one healthy growing baby and we could settle. 

 

We began to talk again and we both admitted how scared we were, opening up helped to ease the anxiety a little. I felt positive and I was much more confident in making my voice heard surrounding my choices. I had the most wonderful midwife and she listened to me and I said that I was prepared for another unexpected home birth, though we did have a planned one booked in. 

 

With the older boys, we never found out what we were having though I was sure Dylan was a boy all along, growing up I always imagined that I would have a girl. I was such a girly girl and I imagined pretty dresses and taking her to dance classes. So, when I had Connor, I was totally shocked, but it really didn’t matter. With each of the boys it didn’t though when anyone asked, of course, I said yes, I would love a girl. 

 

We decided to find out what we were having, this was the day I would meet my little girl, I had a vision in my head and I had a name all picked and I was so sure that after my boys I would now be having a girl. When of course they had checked that baby was healthy, the lady asked if we would like to know the sex. Excitedly we said yes, but when the words boy came out, I felt all the excitement go and I was overcome with disappointment.

 

Of course, I couldn’t let that show so holding the tears back we made our way to the car where I fell apart in tears. ( I know what you are thinking reading this, I would too, why is she being so selfish she has just been told she is growing a healthy baby boy). It’s not something I’m proud of and it’s not something I have shared; gender disappointment is a very taboo subject, but the feelings are very real.

 

The tears kept flowing, it felt like I was grieving a little girl I had never met aside from being in my head. I was not going to be taking Sienna to dance classes, to buy her pretty dresses, for her to grow up and for us to go shopping, to musicals just like I do with my own mum. I would never have that mother-daughter relationship. 

 

I felt awful, from feeling guilty about this precious baby boy I was carrying, to losing the idea of my daughter. I felt ashamed, there are people that have lost babies, that can’t have babies and would love to have what you have. Marc and I opened up too and we chatted and slowly we began to get excited about this little boy. A few days later I went shopping and got him some outfits and we decided on his name, sometimes I had a little bit of jealousy when I saw baby girls, but I had accepted it. 

 

The pregnancy went on and the SPD came back even more painful than before, working at the nursery was becoming more difficult and I decided to leave at 32 weeks instead of 36 weeks. I managed to spend some extra time with the boys in the summer holidays and they were all excited about the new arrival.

 

The evening of 17th September 2010, I was feeling really uncomfortable and I had been getting lots of Braxton Hicks, so I took myself upstairs to bed. Marc had been working for 10 days straight so he was looking forward to a long weekend off to get things ready as we still had two weeks to go. 

 

It was 11.20pm and I was then overcome by an incredibly strong contraction, I rang Marc who was downstairs, I wasn’t going to make it down two floors. He raced up the stairs to see me doubled over the bed, I had already prepared the bedroom for our ‘planned homebirth’. He knew that the baby was coming, and NOW, he rang the hospital who said they had no midwives available and for us to come to the hospital.

 

At that moment my waters went, and the hospital were sending an ambulance, Marc had the lady on the phone giving him instructions, it's ok my wife has delivered two babies herself; we will be fine. At 11.40pm with some help from marc this time, Kaeden arrived into the world on our bedroom floor. 

 

I felt so unbelievably calm and as soon as I saw Kaeden it was pure love at first sight, nothing mattered in those moments at all, I felt so peaceful and it was just us for a few minutes. He was perfectly healthy, and we were able to stay at home, the boys had all slept through the commotion. I couldn’t wait for them to meet him in the morning.

 

The first few months with Kaeden were just blissful, we had a rough couple of weeks with colic, but I was soon able to manage that and going to baby massage helped him too. He was such a smiley and happy baby and I just relished being a new mummy again, I felt at peace, I was so calm and so in love with this little boy. I didn’t have any expectations I enjoyed each moment with him, this was a very different experience than before. I felt I was using my mummy intuition more and if something didn’t feel right, I simply didn’t do it. We established a lovely flexible routine and he was soon sleeping through. I didn’t rush him either though he seemed to be in a rush, soon crawling and walking and oh my when he learnt to talk you couldn’t quieten him down.

 

Marc got made redundant when Kaeden was 6 months old which added a few strains given that I was on maternity leave. I decided not to return to the nursery but to childmind instead. It was a long process, but I qualified and after some long months of struggling financially marc was able to get a new job and I began childminding. 

 

I loved those years, caring for my boys but working from home too and I loved all the families I worked with. I began my degree with the Open University studying Early Years with the goal of becoming a reception teacher. It was tricky working full time, caring for the boys and Marc worked nights still, however, I studied at night and I loved learning though there were a few tears and stress over deadlines and assignments. 

 

However, the idea of becoming a teacher was becoming less appealing, as a childminder I had to constantly jump through hoops to meet Ofsted’s requirements and some of my friends who were teachers were leaving the profession. I began looking at different possibilities, I loved working for myself and I loved working with and supporting families, but childminding was putting a strain on the family. The house no longer felt like it was home for the boys.

 

One of my families had recently got some support from a sleep consultant, I had no idea such a thing existed, I wish they had when I spent so much time without sleep. However, during my studies, I had looked into sleep, sleep behaviour, sleep development and it was a subject I continued to read into. My knowledge had helped with Kaeden and I supported many of the families with their children’s sleep.

 

Along with my final year of Uni I trained as a maternity nurse and as a sleep consultant, I managed to come out with a first in 2016 and I began to support families with their little one’s sleep. Sweetbeginnings Babycare was born though maybe our family wasn’t quite complete just yet? 

 

Read the final part tomorrow – Our new beginning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Beginnings Babycare

 Claire is based in Maidstone, Kent and her sleep consultancy, baby massage and baby yoga classes offer a nurturing space for mum and baby to relax, recharge and connect. Claire has an extensive background in childhood studies and baby care. 

 

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