It is quite interesting when I speak with people about writing for this Guest Blogger Month of LOVE series. Some are eager right out of the box! They are usually folks who write regularly though often on topics unrelated to LOVE. This provides an opportunity to write something different than their normal topics. And then there are others who have to be gently encouraged to participate. Some like my friend Lynda, have admitted the only thing they write is the grocery list. Well today’s guest blogger, the lovely Emma from Australia, shared that she hadn’t written anything since high school. But here is the thing, I’d like to suggest that these blog posts aren’t about writing (you know the stress of punctuation, grammar and a grade). I like to think these stories are about SHARING! And since many of these guest bloggers are friends from the Snapchat commUNITY, we are all used to sharing and chatting and connecting. And this is just an extension of that! So let’s read what Emma, this lovely mom of two, has to say about LOVE!
LOVE Heals…The love of a husband. The love of a daughter. The love of parents. The love of sisters. The love of a son.
Emma Pyke, January 2019
We tried very hard to have our second baby. It was over a year, a lot of tests, a couple of procedures, a lot of stress. We found out we were pregnant in June 2017. It was such a happy time, we were so relieved and we just knew we had so much love for this baby.
I was about to turn 37 so was considered a medium risk pregnancy anyway. But our initial screening test for Down Syndrome etc came back high, so we had the follow up blood test and after a few weeks of angst, we found out all was ok with baby.
Not long after that, I twinged my back lifting our daughter in her car seat. I had already had back issues over the previous years but it had been relatively stable. I began to panic, thinking how would I continue working, caring for our daughter, growing a baby, with an injured back. I felt nauseous. I immediately started to ‘baby’ my back, for fear of injuring it further. It was the worst thing I could have done.
I visited an Osteopath for the rest of my pregnancy, but the fear, anxiety and nauseousness didn’t stop. I found it hard to eat, rest, smile, laugh, enjoy anything. It was crippling. I would go days without an appetite, and even though I knew I had to eat for energy and our baby, I just couldn’t. I was literally sick with worry.
I couldn’t enjoy my pregnancy. The thoughts I had broke my heart. “It would have been easier if I wasn’t pregnant”. I felt sick with guilt – I didn’t want to loose the baby, I didn’t want anything to happen to the baby, but I was just so sick of worrying and feeling so unwell. I also knew I wasn’t being a great mother to our daughter.
I went to see my doctor a few times, about my back, the nausea, the lack of appetite and not eating, and each time they told me it was probably pregnancy hormones, and that the baby would be ok as it would take what it needed.
Christmas came and went and looking back, it was such a blur. The whole pregnancy was a blur.
We were booked in for an elective caesarean in the February as I’d had an issue when I delivered our daughter. Her birth was traumatic, and I was looking forward to a beautiful, peaceful birth the second time round. I was also looking forward to the back pain subsiding, with the difference in weight after the baby was born.
But, does any birth go to plan?
Our son came out big, screaming and breathing and we were so happy. As I tried to look at him and comfort him on my chest, I heard the words “where is the bleeding coming from, what can you give her, was there anything in her history” and the next thing, they whipped my husband Adrian, and our son out and explained that I was haemorrhaging and they needed to give me some medication to slow it down. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t worried. I trusted them. I just felt so sick from the many medications they had to give me. Luckily they worked out what the issue was and within an hour I was in recovery with my husband and our 9 pound son.
Patrick and I, 12/02/2018, about 4 hours old, just out of recovery
Recovery was hard. I’d lost a lot of blood and of course the usual soreness from an operation. Patrick John was a beautiful baby, hit all his marks, started feeding well, sleeping etc.
My appetite wasn’t back, and the worry was still there.
I had lost 22 kilos while pregnant.
My mum came to stay for a week when we came home from hospital. We own our own business and my husband just couldn’t take time off to help at home. My mum was a saviour. She helped with everything. She did the day care runs, the washing, and the cooking. She allowed me to sleep, rest, and she forced me to eat, and would send me off to bed early and she would sit up with PJ for a cuddle before she would put him down to sleep and go to sleep herself. The only thing I had to worry about was feeding our baby. It was amazing.
But she had to go home eventually. And that was ok.
My mother in law lives just down the road and was (is) amazing. She was busy with days of work here and there, and helped a lot with the business side of things, which helped Adrian. Daisy would go there for a few hours, or she would run Daisy to day care and kinder for me. She would do anything for us.
The next few months were ok. Patrick was a text book baby. He slept, he fed, and he was easy. I was blessed. Our daughter was happy, healthy, chatty. My husband worked hard, helped when he could, earned good money so we were comfortable. We were renovating our beautiful home. I had help and support from everyone around me.
Patrick, about 10 weeks old
Except for my back – It was still not right. I was having massages and seeing a physio. The physio told me there was nothing structurally wrong that she could tell. The doctor said keep exercising, see the physio and take an anti-inflammatory if I needed it.
I wondered, was my bank pain causing the anxiety, or was anxiety manifesting physically in my back.
In any case, I was not ok. My head was not ok. I wasn’t there.
I would lie on the couch, staring, while PJ was asleep and while Daisy watched TV or was at daycare. Hours would go past and for all I know it could have been 5 minutes. I was being a terrible mother. I couldn’t be bothered. My baby was fed, clean, content. My daughter was fed, busy, and had clean clothes. But that was all I could manage. There was no laughter, no reading books, no singing.
Daisy, 4 & Patrick, 8 months
I didn’t feel like I was bonding with PJ, or really enjoying those early months, when you are supposed to be enveloped in all that newborn love.
My husband asked on more than one occasion, if it could be Post Natal Depression. I didn’t even need to think about a response: I said “no way. How could it be that, I have nothing to be depressed about? It’s just my back”.
When Patrick was about 4 months old, It was Queen’s Birthday June Long weekend (here in Australia) and I took PJ & Daisy to stay at my mums for a couple of nights. My parents were leaving on the Tuesday on a caravanning trip that they had been planning for months, so I went to see them before they left. I slept a lot. I didn’t contribute to conversations. I hardly ate.
I did read a little, I read an article about a mother who was diagnosed with PND. In the article, it listed all the signs of post-natal depression. In my head, I ticked all of them off. They all applied to me. Except one. This mother, one day, said that she was on a balcony of a high rise, and she thought, I could simply just jump off. Personally – I had never felt that bad. But the thought of getting to that stage, frightened the hell out of me.
I got home from Mum’s on the Monday, and found myself telling Adrian what a great time I had had, how relaxing and fun it was, and how good I felt. I was lying. I knew they were lies as the words were coming out of my mouth. Adrian could tell there had been a shift in my behaviour. When we went to bed, we started talking. I started telling him some of the things I was feeling. I was sobbing. I couldn’t believe how the words were just flowing. Finally. Adrian was so shocked. He said he knew things weren’t great, but that he didn’t realise at all that they were that bad. The very next morning, he rang my GP and made me an urgent appointment.
My doctor, who had also been my Obstetrician, suggested I go to counselling and to also try some anti-depressants. In my head – I didn’t want medication, but I had asked for help and therefore I had to try what was suggested.
Adrian wanted me to call my mum and dad, explain what was happening – but I wouldn’t let him. How could I? They had just left on their dream holiday. Deep down I knew mum would feel terrible. So I didn’t call. I didn’t tell my sisters. I struggled for another week.
The following week I saw a councillor and pretty much just cried the entire hour. She was saying things that made sense, and which mirrored how I was feeling. She gave me some good ideas. She also suggested I look at self-referring to the Mother & Baby Unit at a nearby hospital. They are a mental health division of the hospital, especially for Post Natal issues. I didn’t think I was that bad. But how could I go, with my husband working so much, who would look after Daisy?
Little did I know, while I was in the councillor, Adrian had called mum. She rang me that afternoon and offered to come home. I said I would think about it. I wanted to say yes. I knew she could handle everything. I knew she would help with Daisy. I told her I would ring her the next day.
Adrian also rang my sister Ally. The next day she came down to see me, a 2 hour drive from her home. She told me I needed to ring mum. Ally also rang the Mother & Baby Unit for me, to ask the details of how it all worked. I spoke to (and cried to) the Unit Manager for about 30 minutes and she said she could maybe get me spot in the following weeks. It was a 2 week program, and the unit services a huge area, but has only 5 beds. She would call the following week if she had a spot for me. I felt guilty, did I even deserve one of 5 beds. What if I was taking a bed off someone that needed it more than me?
I then rang mum to say that I really would love her to come home. I needed my mum, even at 37 years old. However, her and dad were already on their way home. She trusted her motherly instinct and had already made the decision without my input.
Ally also rang my other 2 sisters to tell them what was going on. They had no idea. The support I received from them was, and still is, amazing.
The Unit Manger called back and I got a spot 2 weeks later. Honestly it was an amazing program and I learnt so much, not just about my diagnosis, but about how to recognise things, manage them better, understanding my medication and bonding with Patrick. It was such an amazing experience. I felt so wounded walking in there, but had started healing by the time I was discharged.
I was so scared that Daisy would always remember me for being sad, distant, a bad mother. They say children are resilient and I really see that now. She never says “remember when you were sad?” or “remember when you stayed in bed a lot?”. Every day, Daisy says “Hey mum, I love you so much.”
I was so scared that deep down, Patrick would know about the negative feelings I had while pregnant. What if he thought I didn’t want him? What if he thought I didn’t love him? It was something I really had to work on at the Mother & Baby Unit. Forgiving myself. Understanding that having PND didn’t make me a bad mother and that asking for help was brave.
Patrick is a beautiful soul. His smile warms me. I now have no doubt that he adores me.
Our little family, September 2018, Darwin, NT
I have been chatting with Emma on Snapchat since April of 2017. She has shared stories of when Daisy had her tonsils out, when they went on family holidays and she even shared the pregnancy scan of their baby Patrick on my #tellthetruththursday episode. But I remember the day she told me about her post natal depression. It was a sobering conversation and I have never told another soul. But I promised to keep her in prayer. So when I encouraged Emma to share her LOVE story, I had no idea she would be brave enough to reveal this. However, as she titled her piece, “LOVE heals” and this is living proof folks!
This Month of LOVE is FOR people like Emma and it is ABOUT people like Emma. AND of course all of YOU too! It is to highlight all of our uniqueness and all of our sameness. Life is more beautiful with LOVE. Because even when life is hard and sad, LOVE will always help us get through!
Thank you Emma for sharing that touching story and thanks for being my Snapchat friend. I always love to hear about when you visited my soul home Ireland, and I enjoy the snippets you post of life in Australia. One day if I ever make it there I hope we meet! Until then, keep on loving yourself and that amazing family of yours!