When my husband and I chose to start our family, initially everything went pretty textbook – it took us 6 months to conceive and it was a fairly normal pregnancy. I went overdue – then at 41 weeks, started experiencing contractions… after 4 days in labour my daughter was delivered by emergency caesarian – during which time, I thought I would die (‘we can’t stop the bleeding’), then we thought my daughter would die as she had an infection that evolved to Sepsis.
We experienced a very traumatic time in NICU. My daughter was rushed away to another hospital a day after she was born, separated from me for over 8 hours. I was told that if I went with her, I may not be able to stay in hospital with her after as effectively I’d have to discharge myself in order to go, whilst also having an infection myself. After 5 days of no sleep and prolonged stress, my brain broke and I shut all of my emotions down to cope with the strain of the responsibility. I never really got over that separation, the feeling of failure both personally and physically continued on for many months, if not years. It showed itself through postnatal depression – I didn’t feel that I was or could ever be, good enough. I couldn’t give her everything she needed and she was a very very unhappy baby. I felt angry at everyone and everything.
At this point, I received CBT from the NHS, though never really felt it helped. I went through the motions and pushed forward with my own and daughters health as best I could. We managed. She was diagnosed with various manageable health issues, which explained why she was so unhappy. This helped alleviate my guilt and depression over time and now she is an incredibly happy child.
When we finally felt ready for a second… we had a very early chemical pregnancy and many years of secondary infertility. We had given up all hope of adding to our family when we experienced a pregnancy which resulted in a missed miscarriage, found out at our 12-week scan. I had not felt confident that I would carry the baby to term during those 12 weeks but this didn’t make it any easier. This was compounded by the loss of my father shortly after.
The grief I felt was very complicated. I had to hide my pain from those that didn’t know – and many that did, didn’t know how to talk to me. The death of my father overshadowed everything and I still find it hard to separate my thoughts and feelings about both losses.
There were lots of incredibly insensitive moments, some of which were from people you would hope would know better – doctors, midwives, radiologists and mortuary staff. There were others who just hadn’t experienced anything like it and were just searching for words to console. But there were also lots of people within the NHS I felt deeply grateful to for their sensitive handling of a very difficult situation.
Another year has passed since our missed miscarriage, and after pushing for more investigations, we have found out I have uterine adhesions that make it very unlikely that I could conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. This is devastating for us, though we feel fortunate to know that for now, it is best not to try.
After experiencing the missed miscarriage I realised I would need some help, and that for me, CBT wouldn’t do it. I referred myself to Footsteps Counselling & Care following a discussion with the local mental health services who suggested it as an option more appropriate for me. I found counselling much more useful for me than the CBT I had had previously, though everyone is different and I understand CBT helps a huge number of people.
I appreciated that Footsteps is a charity focused on pregnancy-related issues, which helped me feel comfortable discussing my own personal matters. A lot of things just clicked from being able to talk more openly with my counsellor. I gained new perspectives and confidence in my own ability to manage and be my own advocate. I am eternally grateful for their help.
Thank you to our client for sharing her story. If you live in Gloucestershire and need support for pregnancy-related issues, including the loss of a baby at any time, please contact us.