So, I did a kind of brief intro about 5 blogs back, this time I thought I would summarise really the start of my motherhood journey. I became pregnant by surprise after thinking I never would, just always assumed I had fertility issues, never really confirmed as such, but I had a minor op on my womb a year before I fell pregnant, so who knows maybe that helped me conceive. Anyway, after the initial shock my partner and I were happy with the news although a little overwhelmed, and we did our best to get things prepared and right.
I was happy with the job I was in and always hope to return to work after taking maternity leave, although I knew becoming a working mum would be a challenge and eventually hoped to move onto something that would stretch my capabilities more when the time was right, but I never anticipated the rough ride that I was going to get though. My pregnancy went relatively smoothly after a few initial concerns, however, work was just trouble. Trouble was everyone was concerned how overworked they were going to be in my absence and wouldn’t give it a second thought to how this would make me feel, so insensitive, at first maybe not consciously, but then it turned malicious. I mean I know I should have expected this, people only like to feather their own nests these days. However, I truly felt I was working in a nice environment with people that I could trust and that we did favours for each other, I had always been prepared to cover people in the team whatever the circumstances, and I hoped that individuals would be happy to do so for me as well for a small period of time (I was only going to take 6 months off), but no. If you are wondering why not just get someone into cover my role, I work in a very specialised role, where there is not an abundance of people with the required skills available and it takes time to train someone to do the role. I left work to go on maternity leave depressed when it should have been the happiest time in my life, I dreaded returning back to work from day 1 of my maternity leave and not for the right reasons. Most mums probably go through that they may feel like that they will miss their child and everything they might miss, those first milestones by being at work, but this is I just dreaded to returning to an awful atmosphere and of course I did have those feelings later as well, I wanted to be there for more of the firsts. I did my best for those first few weeks on maternity leave to put these thoughts of work out of my mind and concentrate bringing this new life living inside of me into the world, and start preparing everything, although no matter how prepared you think you are, you never are.
When life changed…
Yes, we were not prepared. I have to be honest my labour experience wasn’t the best, I think a night without my partner or any family on the early labour ward spoilt it. My early contractions were very painful, I had a lot of pain relief right from the start, found out that I was in back to back labour with no previous warnings that my baby was in this position, everything was suppose to be normal. I remember having gas & air and not reacting very well to it, and throwing up as my mum walked into the ward to be reunited with me in the early hours of the morning. I was glad to see her as she stopped me from choking on my own vomit as no midwives were around and she took control of the situation, with my partner looking on, guilty and helpless, bless him. I do apologise if I make labour sound horrid, it’s just my experience and one that I wished went better. Things did get better once we got up onto the delivery suite, although the medical staff decided it was best I had an epidural as was not coping with the contraction pain in my back, although this probably made my labour longer, first labours usually are anyway.
Unfortunately, I had a maternal fever in labour and most likely had an infection, I did get antibiotics whilst in labour, but my son still wasn’t well once he made his first appearance into the world. He was sleepy, had a low body temperature and not feeding well, and I was very much in pain and delirious, not a good combination. My son showed signs of infection and was put on IV antibiotics. After initially not feeding well he soon made up for it and had a voracious appetite, one unfortunately I couldn’t cope with the demand even more so after we got back from our 5 day stay in hospital. I also found out that my father had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, I had ambivalent feelings towards my father, he was never a model father, but he was always there, but never one to learn from his mistakes, which infuriated me. Still I didn’t wish this news on him and there was nothing I could do. I never got to see him before he passed away as I was in a predicament with a newborn baby that had just got over a potentially serious neonatal infection, treated for suspected sepsis, he had been so lucky that it never turned into anything serious and I didn’t drive, my father lived too far away and I suffered with spd postnatally for 3-4 months.
Things didn’t get much better after we returned home, my son was feeding a lot, but he was not happy with it, his naps became erratic. He threw up more, and not just spitting up. I don’t really feel I got the support I needed off of the NHS, we eventually got a diagnosis of mild reflux and was given medicine for him, which helped a bit, and we did our best with doing our own research to help him. However, it was a struggle with a baby who didn’t sleep well and was not happy being fed. My son did become a happier baby a few months before I had to return to work, but a few things spoilt that time, a landlady wanting to hike up the rent on our flat, but paying a letting fee for the privilege of agreeing to it and drawing up a new contract. As the place was not exactly perfect, it seemingly was when we first moved in, but we had very noisy neighbours above, a pet rabbit poo problem on the balcony, so we never really used it and issues with me leaving a pushchair in the communal hallway for a tiny bit of the day before my partner came back home from work. So, we decided to say no to renewing, even though she was aware of these issues, she sent us a no fault eviction letter and gave us 2 months to find somewhere else, which was charming, we quickly found a very small house to move into. We have been reasonably happy living there for around the last 3 years.
A few weeks of my maternity leave were taken up with the stress of moving again rather than enjoying quality time with my baby. I was sad to leave my little one as those last 2 months of leave I really felt I just started to see a happy baby and now I had to leave him. His settling in sessions at nursery didn’t go well, he didn’t like to be apart from me one bit, although I tried to get him settled in. Lucky for me, my mum was happy to look after him for me instead, which she did for the first 2 years almost. I am very lucky she is retired.
I returned to work, I did my best to take no notice of the icy atmosphere, but then finally just as I was thinking maybe things were settling down. My son was better at napping and had almost outgrown his reflux issues, so in theory could cope with going on longer journeys. I thought finally I would take him to see my dad and I knew it probably be a goodbye. However, he died a few weeks or so after I thought of the possibility and a month after I returned to work. Then trouble started again, my attendance was being monitored by the company, I had taken time off for illness and bereavement. I was reminded absence was a burden on the company, I snapped and I left. The union sorted out a pay deal, although that was the right thing to do, I just wanted to return to my job without all this bother. It was a difficult dark time and stress took its toll on my health for a while.
Things got worse, before they got better
However, I immediately started contracting work within a month of leaving my previous company, my only wish was that extra month I got to spend with my son, which was great, was filled with less worry. I was made a permanent employee after 5 months of doing contract work for them. Shortly into this I lost another family member, a dear uncle, that had always helped my family out and was a rock, and deserved so much more than he got out of life, I just thought things were never going to get any better and that I might head for a breakdown. I have to say the company I work for now have been the complete opposite, offered counselling and allowed me time to go to these appointments, and have been understanding during times of illnesses or when my childcare has fell through and it has made a world of difference. I am now on anti depressants, unfortunately the counselling did not work for me, but I appreciated the company’s support. After being fearful of going on anti depressants I have to say they have done me a world of good, and I am not a drained zombie zapped of all emotion without coherent thought (OK the last bit some of you might question lol). I may return to talking counselling when I feel I am ready for it.
My confidence had took a severe battering after all these life changes, motherhood, repetitively moving house, adjusting to a new area, returning to work after an extended absence, bereavement, leaving job, starting new job, and mental health issues. However, now I feel it is returning and new beginnings will happen.
Links for reflux survival guide & tips:
Links for maternity discrimination:
Links for bereavement:
Bereavement Leave and Your Rights Article:
NHS Bereavement Guide:
Links for maternal mental health: