My story in more depth…
My 18 month old son was diagnosed with Meningitis the day I was due to give birth to my second son.
This was over 20 years ago before the media coverage of this dreadful disease. I had very little knowledge of it and it appears neither did the first GP we saw. He told me to take him home and give him Calpol despite him having the rash and high temperature and other typical symptoms.
A mother’s intuition made me question this advice when a couple of hours later his hands, feet and lips went blue, a sign of the blood poisoning that does so much damage to their tiny bodies.
He was correctly diagnosed by a second doctor and was soon hooked up to lots of machines in hospital.
Two days later, in a different hospital to my seriously ill little boy, still not knowing if he would survive, I gave birth to another baby boy.
The combination of the trauma of my son’s illness and the release of the accompanying stress chemicals, with the surge of hormones released by the body in preparation for labour and birth wasn’t a great mix.
The shock of the whole experience meant I was on autopilot, going through the motions of having a new born baby but not really connecting.
Happily, after 10 days in hospital my little boy was discharged with no ill effects.
Sadly our experience was to have a more lasting effect on family life as I developed post-natal depression.
My experience of post-natal depression
The grey fog of PND enveloped me in its embrace, 21 years later I can clearly remember the sense of moving at a different speed to everyone else, the disconnection from the world, the loneliness, looking at my babies and not feeling anything, the numbness, the anxiety, and the fear.
The day I was driving with tears streaming down my face, the thought that a slight turn of the wheel would put a stop to everything, the impact of my car with the bridge in front of me would be a welcome relief, is clear and sharp after all these years.
What I can’t remember are my sons first few months. They passed in a blur of tears, my sense of self and previous confidence melting away, that part of our lives is a blank, stolen from me by the beast that is post-natal depression.
Eventually I sought help and was given medication which gradually pulled me out of the pit I had sunk into. The medication made me feel better but it didn’t address the underlying cause of my depression, the trauma surrounding my son’s birth. Unknown to me this would come back to haunt me years later.
Family life continued but the seeds of self-doubt and guilt at not being the mum I wanted to be were planted, along with the belief that I had to do everything because I couldn’t trust anyone else with my babies care.
These seeds grew, as seeds do.
At the time I wasn’t aware of them and how they would impact on me, my relationships and how I parented.
Becoming a mum again brings it all flooding back
Fast forward through divorce and bringing up my two sons as a single mum whilst starting my therapy training and then building a successful business.
I was 40 years old and in a new relationship when I accidently fell pregnant.
Being completely honest I wasn’t over the moon! My two sons had left school and were starting to build lives of their own. A path of freedom with less responsibility was opening up in front of me and it looked very attractive!
My partner was ecstatic but I was in denial, we told no one until I was 20 weeks. I continued to act as if nothing was happening but as my baby grew so did my fears of developing PND. I was terrified of sinking down into that life draining, energy sucking, pit of despair that had been my world for many many months all those years ago.
I did seek help from my GP but soon realised that what was on offer wasn’t what I needed.
My training and extensive experience in the field of Complementary Medicine comes into its own
When I left school at 16 I started a successful career working for a bank in the City of London. I loved my job and even though I say this myself I was very good at it. This was reflected in the many promotions I was given and the speed I was working my way up the Corporate ladder. It was my intention to return to work full time after taking a career break to have my children but post-natal depression made that impossible.
After a conversation with a very knowledgeable lady in a pub of all places I looked into retraining and having an inquiring mind and an interest in people I discovered Reflexology and then Reflex Touch (a form of Reflexology that uses a subtle light touch). I enrolled at college and my exploration of the world of alternative therapies began.
I enjoy learning and soon went onto study Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping). I set up my own business and for the past 17 years I have worked with hundreds of clients completing countless hours of clinical experience. I have also trained other therapists to practice Reflex Touch and taught on the Complementary Therapy degree course at APU in Chelmsford.
When faced with my own fears and the emotional challenges falling pregnant had brought to the surface, I naturally used my own knowledge and experience to help myself, applying the techniques I had been successfully using with my clients to my own situation.
A colleague trained in Reflex Touch gave me regular treatments throughout my pregnancy and I used tapping (EFT) to change how I felt about my past experience and this in turn changed how I felt about myself and the upcoming birth and new baby.
I even tapped during my labour, much to the interest of the two midwives who attended my peaceful and empowering water birth at home.
It was whilst chatting with these women, between contractions, that planted the idea in my obviously fertile brain, (excuse the pun!) that I could focus my skills and knowledge to support women, who like me, had had a less than sunshine and light experience of pregnancy, birth and the early months of motherhood.