I had a very difficult pregnancy in 2016.  I had numerous complications from week 6 right up until the end, which resulted in both myself and my husband not knowing if we were going to bring our little boy home or if I would even survive.  

Once Harry was born and he was ok, I suffered from complications.  Two weeks after he was born, I had two operations to fix the damage from pregnancy and ended up quite poorly for the next few months.

While I was pregnant, I didn’t bond or love my bump out of fear of losing Harry.  We didn’t buy any baby things until the day before my planned c section and we didn’t get excited or chat about baby things like we had done with my older boy.  Our friends stopped asking how I was getting on, or if they did, they had a pained look on their face from fear of upsetting me.

Looking back to how I was in those early days and even up to October 2017, I think Harry would say I was two very different mammies.  If Harry could speak, he would probably describe me back then as quite a sad person - lethargic, quiet and disengaged.  I would regularly give him cuddles and kisses but these were forced and were not the big loving, squeezy hugs I would give my other son.

Harry would often see me cry when it was just the two of us alone, and when I did start having loving feelings towards him my brain would stop me and remind me that something was wrong with Harry and I couldn’t love him because he was going to die.  I think Harry would have noticed that I was very scared a lot of the time when it was just the two of us alone and there was a tense atmosphere around us.

My breaking point came in October, just after Harry’s first birthday.  He had been admitted to hospital a few times with breathing problems and I think that was a trigger in my head saying, “see, he is going to die so don’t get close or love him”.  

Getting out of bed felt like standing at the bottom of a mountain that I didn’t have the energy to climb and when the boys woke up and started calling for me I just wanted to run away.  A simple task like making tea felt like the hardest task in the world.  

I took Harry for his injections and started telling the Health Visitor that he was teething.  She asked how I was and I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying, but couldn’t understand why I was crying.  The next day the Health Visitor came to see me and suggested I had post-natal depression, and told me about the NEWPIP Service.

When I heard about NEWPIP, I liked the fact that it focused on the mother, baby and the relationship.  I felt that this place would be beneficial to me.  I liked the fact Harry would be with me, as it then felt that we were going to team up and get through this time together.

Kate, from NEWPIP, came to see me with the Health Visitor and I felt instantly at ease and that I could open up without judgement.  She had a calming way about her and it felt like she really cared about Harry and me.  I was able to say aloud feelings that I had but had never expressed and wouldn’t have dreamed of saying out loud before.

During our sessions, I would speak very fast and rush through what I was saying just to get it all out as fast as I could.  Kate would stop me and get me to react to what I had just said.  This made me realise how I trivialise things in front of other people, things that are actually big and are affecting me that end up festering and becoming worse.

After each session, I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off me.  Although I felt very drained afterwards I began to understand my behaviour and why I was feeling like this.  Sometimes it was hard to say things in front of Harry, even though I knew he couldn’t understand.  Having him there was a constant reminder that I needed to open up and work hard at this so I could get better for the both of us.

I started to feel it was time to end the sessions when I noticed that I was becoming more myself.  Daily life wasn’t as overwhelming, and I was enjoying having Harry and falling more and more in love with him.  We gradually made our sessions further apart with Kate saying that I could contact her again if things started to go bad again.

I am so grateful to Kate and NEWPIP.  Without this amazing service, I hate to think how bad things could have escalated.  I think I was very lucky that my Health Visitor knew about NEWPIP and was able to refer me - I feel so many families out there could benefit like I have.  

I am a children’s nurse and feel so passionately about this service.  I have contacted our clinical leader to invite NEWPIP to come to the mandatory study days that all children’s nurses have to attend.  This means every children’s nurse in the hospital is aware of NEWPIP and can refer families to it.  

Now I think Harry would describe me as very loud, loving, happy, funny and attentive to him.  We now do many activities together and are always out just the two of us.  We laugh a lot together.

From his perspective, I think he would say he feels safer and happier with me.  He is a very shy boy and he looks to me to comfort him in strange places or around new people, whereas before he would go to my husband.  

My family now feels like a loving place again and this would not have been possible if it hadn’t been for Kate and NEWPIP.

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