Maternal mental health and me

Part 5 – our new beginning

 

In the summer of 2016, we went on holiday and talk of another baby came up again, we had toyed with the idea since having Kaeden and we upsettingly went through another miscarriage when he was 3. So, thinking about it again was always filled with both excitement and fear. Though we decided if I wasn’t pregnant within 6 months then that would be it. 

 

Two months later I was holding a positive pregnancy test, baby number 5 was on their way. The early weeks were spent in trepidation until we got the news that we were carrying a healthy baby at 12 weeks. We took the boys for our gender scan, this time around I was convinced another boy was on his way, I was to be right and the look on Kaeden’s face just filled my heart with joy.

 

I had accepted that I was going to be a mum of boys, the mess, the chaos, the noise is now what I am used to. Its football instead of dance classes, lots of rough and tumble but lots and lots of laughter and love amongst the chaos. 

 

Knowing that this would be my last pregnancy I wanted to embrace it if I am honest, I don’t enjoy pregnancy too much. Though I was quite well aside from the SPD coming back even more so, I had good and bad days with the pain. I was working still as a childminder and I managed to adapt things to manage. 

 

Being an older mum this time, I felt more confident and prepared than ever before, I had an amazing experience with Kaeden, and I was positive that this would be the same. I was armed with experience and knowledge and I had a voice. I wasn’t prepared for the comments from professionals with regards to being an older mum though, it actually took me back to when I was a first-time mum nearly 20 years ago and dealing with the judgements. 

 

As an older mum expecting my fifth baby I was under a consultant, something I had not had before. I had the appointment to meet her and I went in feeling so positive and confident but came out feeling fearful, nervous and that my choices had been taken away.

 

She had said that given my history that I would be better off being induced at the hospital, my planned homebirth or unplanned that I had imagined again gone. As I was carrying my fifth, she said there would be more risks of bleeding, as she spoke, I felt that all my choices were being taken away. I hated hospitals and did not want any interventions to birth my baby, I knew what my body was capable of. 

 

The next six weeks were a worry, I didn’t want to be induced even with professional’s advice. I started to google as if I had to be induced, I wanted to know the procedure, I wanted it to be as natural as possible. I spoke with my friend too who is a midwife, on speaking with her she told me with risks were actually very low. I had not had complications before, so I went back to the consultant armed with more knowledge and facts I decided to have my home birth. 

 

I do believe so strongly that when we are pregnant, we are not given all the information, knowledge is power. I was certain that having a home birth would be better for both me and my baby, I wasn’t going to put him at risk, but I wasn’t prepared to put my mental health at risk too by not having my voice heard again. My friend was amazing too and was so supportive, mummy’s need someone who has there back. 

 

Being pregnant again meant that a lot of my friends had older children, I didn’t really have anyone that I could share the highs and lows of motherhood with. I was online early on in the pregnancy when I saw a chat on Netmums, due on July 17, I never normally entertained these forums, but I introduced myself and we all got chatting online. 

 

Since then we transferred the chat to Facebook, we still chat to this day, there are around 50 of us all in different parts of the country. Those ladies though most I have never met have been my saviour through pregnancy, birth and beyond. We chat constantly now 3 years later, we have shared the ups and downs, births, birthdays and all their firsts all online. It means I am never alone, and we support each other without any judgement whilst parenting our own way. 

 

So, I woke up at 00.45am 3rdJuly to excruciating pain, I rang Marc who was at work, to tell him it was happening. I was exactly 39 weeks, he immediately set off home, I rang the maternity ward. My midwife was so good as she had left my notes there in case I called in, so they knew to send someone quickly if was to go into labour. 

 

I was in agony with contractions coming thick and fast, the maternity ward rang back to say a midwife was 15 minutes away, could I hold on that long? I woke Connor, he was now in a mood for waking him, but he went downstairs to unlock the door for the midwife. Marc called on his way back, how he didn’t get pulled over for speeding and being on the phone I won’t ever know? 

 

1.25am Marc comes rushing upstairs followed five minutes later by the midwife, I was in agony. I kept saying to the midwife I needed to push but by my waters had not gone, I knew that once the waters went my boys usually appeared afterwards. She said just go with my body, she just managed to put on some gloves before I pushed our baby boy out who was fully en caul, born in his amniotic sack. He is our lucky little charm

 

I felt an instant rush of love and it was just so peaceful and calm, getting back into bed for skin to skin and to feed him. The midwives stayed for a cup of tea and the all-important toast, why are tea and toast the best thing ever after giving birth? It was such a lovely experience; the boys woke up and they came to meet their new baby brother Logan.

 

The next few weeks were spent getting to know this new little boy, connecting, loving and bonding. The boys adored him, and I felt complete. Though I noticed that he would struggle with feeding, often gasping for breath and struggling to swallow, he hated laying down and wanted to be held constantly, I was certain that he had silent reflux. 

 

Whilst pregnant I had signed up to become a baby massage instructor, I started to practice the moves on Logan and he quickly adored them. Often, I had to adjust the positions due to his reflux, he didn’t sleep great often up every 20 minutes. However, I adjusted his Moses basket and a sling was to become my best friend. 

 

In a lot of ways, he was like Reagan, however this time around I had knowledge and experience, I had been running Sweetbeginnings Babycare slowly in the background as a sleep consultant. My calm, care and love approach was born from having Logan, through this Logan began to love his sleep, it was only once I adjusted things for his reflux and ensured he was comfortable. 

 

There were some long nights at the time with some sleep deprivation, I was mindful of my mental health, often reaching out to the girls in the group or chatting with friends helped. I went back to minding and I began taking him to baby classes, doing this helped me to not feel alone again. 

 

Some days were better than others, it is difficult when you have a baby with reflux, however, I reminded myself that this wouldn’t be forever, and I was doing everything I could for him. I let go a lot during this time too, my younger boys taught me what love is again and that I am imperfectly perfect as a mum which I am content with.

 

Logan and I learnt together, I qualified in baby massage and yoga which was just the best experience as Logan still enjoys a massage and a bit of yoga today at nearly 3. It has cemented our connection and was the one thing that got me through those difficult days when he was in pain and discomfort. 

 

So here I am today with 5 boys, it's not all sunshine and flowers, some days it's hard some days it’s easy, I often get told I am supermum. I don’t think I am at all I’m just winging it, learning every day and doing my best. Every day I am conscious of protecting my mental health.

 

Mummy guilt never goes away however taking time for me and learning to love myself is something I now take as a priority. Before I would put the boys first ensuring that their needs were met, I didn’t matter. However, I do matter, if I can’t love myself then how can I give love to anyone else. I am now more connected to my heart instead of my head. Maternal mental health matters as it impacts everyone. 

 

I dearly love my work, my experience with my own boys was their gift to me and I can now gift this experience to families. Empowering mummy’s to know that they are important,  to show them calm, care and love fill my heart with joy.

 

Both infant mental health and maternal mental health are a priority at Sweetbeginnings having experienced postnatal depression myself, I value the need for how we care for new parents and their babies. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is so very true,

 

My aim, therefore, is to provide support and nurture parents,  whether it’s coming to a class or me holding your hand as you support your little one’s sleep. Caring for new parents in their new role is something I love to do, seeing confidence grow and bonds form. 

I now accept my experiences; I often get people telling me “I wish I knew you when my babies were small” when I tell them what I do and I say, “I wish I knew me when I became a mummy too”. It’s so important that we start valuing motherhood from the very beginning and that maternal mental health is protected from the very beginning too. 

Anyway, this is my story, the ups and downs of motherhood, it’s still a learning curve but I have accepted all I went through, my boys gave me a life lesson, they taught me to love but most importantly how to love myself.

If you are feeling that you need to talk, I am here but also reach out to professionals too, a friend or family. 

If you can’t speak to anyone close speak to one of these organisations

PANDAS – www.pandasfoundation.org.uk

Mind - www.mind.org.uk

Much love

Claire xx

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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