It was maternal mental health week last week and it is mental health awareness week this week and one of our franchises Janine who owns and runs our Wokingham Henley and Ascot franchise has written a blog about her maternal health and that it’s okay not to be okay. Thank you, Janine, for sharing your own experience. We hope you find it useful.

Here I am the day after having Sophie, my eldest. We were finally meeting for the first time as she had been in special baby care. She was born by emergency c-section at full term (39 weeks) but was born small at only 4lb 12oz.
We (us and the Doctors) didn’t realise that my placenta had stopped working around 31 weeks due to me having the onset of pre-eclampsia and Sophie had stopped growing for the last 8 weeks. The first sign we realised something was wrong was when my waters broke and it was full of blood and meconium.

My Husband knew something was wrong and rushed me to hospital. Next thing I know I’m being taken into surgery because Sophie’s heartbeat was weak. She was born by emergency c section and taken to BUSCOT which was the special baby unit in RBH. We were told how lucky we were that she had held on that long after my placenta had stopped feeding her.

The next few weeks and months were a bit of a blur. Not only was I coming to terms with becoming a Mum, but I was trying to reconcile what had been a traumatic experience and take on board everything that had happened, the potential damage that it had had on Sophie and manage constant hospital appointments. Tim and I were so tired as we were on a rigid feeding plan for Sophie to fatten her up and ensure she didn’t have to keep going back into hospital.

It’s funny, when you go through a traumatic experience such as a car crash or you hurt yourself and have to have surgery, people immediately ask you if you’re okay, but when you’ve had major surgery such as an emergency c-section, people don’t tend to ask the same question as there’s a positive outcome: a little baby to coo over. No one stopped to ask Tim how he felt too as he had to manage and rush between wards comforting his wife who’d just had major surgery and visiting his newborn baby in intensive care.

Was I depressed? No.

I’ve always been very strong minded and been able to get myself mentally out of any low point and have such a wonderful supportive Husband.

But was I okay? Far from it.

I felt so grateful that Sophie was alive that I tried not to wallow and worry, but secretly I longed for the wonderful birth stories that I had heard from other friends, I longed to dress my baby in pretty little outfits like the other Mums & their babies, but nothing would fit, I longed to erase that night of her birth (and felt guilty about that) and I longed for and worried whether my baby would grow bigger and hit milestones just like any other child. These worries sometimes consumed me. I wish I hadn’t worried so much as she’s now 6, clever as anything and one of the tallest in her class!!

Despite all these worries, when asked if I was “fine” there were many times I just said: “I’m fine”. I was trying to hold it together and prove to everyone, including myself that I could do it all.

So, I just wanted to say that it’s okay not to feel okay, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed or a bad Mum or a failure; it means you’re human. I can say and recognise that now in hindsight.

And if you ever ask how someone is, and your instincts are telling you different when they respond with “fine” …then do something about it!

You have the power to help someone.

They might not want to tell you; they may not want to admit it and say it out loud or there may just be so many things that they honestly don’t know where to start. They may even think their worries are not even worthy of your time.

Think about what you could do to help them. It may be as simple as dropping a hot coffee to their doorstep or offering a sympathetic non-judgemental ear. It’s often the little thoughtful things that really make the difference.

I’m always free for a chat and my inbox is always there if you need me! No, really, seriously…PM me.

Janine x