I know, I know… I’m writing late this week. To be honest, I’m late for most things so this isn’t unusual. I’m already assuming my baby will follow in my footsteps and show up way later than I’d like her to. Sort of like karma I guess.
My last couple of posts have talked about mental health and pregnancy as separate issues, so this week I wanted to write about how the two combine. At the start of my pregnancy, I knew I’d follow a different journey from a lot of mums. Bipolar disorder is complicated enough, and it turns out when you throw pregnancy into the mix, things get even more complicated. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, changes were made to my medication to minimise any potential risks to my baby. I didn’t stop taking them all though, as one of the few things all my doctors agree on is its vital that my health is maintained too. Stressed mummy = stressed baby. I thought, perhaps naively, that by making these changes, things would be a bit more normal.
Since the very beginning, I’ve had extra scans and appointments to monitor both me and the baby, which is great as I’ve been able to see my baby more than most people get to, and I get regular reassurance that everything is going well which, as a first time mum is really comforting. As well as regular doctor and midwife appointments, I’ve also had access to a specialist team of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and an obstetrician. I’m lucky to have had all this support, and I realise that not everyone in my position, or those who have any other illnesses will have the same experience. There is one problem with having such a large team involved in my care though, and that is I often get conflicting opinions between one professional and the next, and there is a major lack of communication. I’ve also just found out that even with the changes to my medication, I still shouldn’t be breastfeeding. I’ve always said that it is my intention to try and breastfeed, so now I’m facing another round of med changes. Why is this just being pointed out now?
All six of the scans I’ve had so far (I told you there were a lot, and I still have more to come) show that everything is going well. My baby is developing as she should be, and all tests have been normal which is great. This is where all the conflicting advice kicks in. The obstetrician wants me to give birth in the high-dependency unit in a consultant led hospital, however my midwife has said there is no reason why I need to be high-dependency. I’ve had a straightforward pregnancy, and even the psychiatrist thinks there are minimal risks. The obstetrician has recommended that I’m hooked up to monitors throughout labour, but the midwife thinks this is unnecessary. So who is right? Am I high dependency? Low-dependency? Who knows… sometimes I feel more like a case study with boxes to tick on a check list than someone about to give birth.
For me, I just want it to be as natural as possible. I’d love to have a water birth as I love being in water, it’s my happy place. The place I feel most chilled out and relaxed. Being strapped up to machines the whole time just sounds an awful lot more stressful than it needs to be. It takes me back to my previous point, stressed mummy = stressed baby.
The obstetrician is also going to recommend that I stay in hospital for at least 3 days afterwards. The idea is that in hospital I’ll have more support and there will be doctors around to spot any signs of my mood going downhill. Has she actually stayed in a hospital recently? Seriously, we all know how busy doctors and nurses are, the only reason I should be staying there is if something is genuinely wrong, not just in case. Especially when the alternative is that I’d be at home with my husband, my family, and have friends around me that know me and know when all is not well. To me, being at home seems like the obvious choice.
As I get closer to my due date, I find myself wondering how I would feel at this stage of pregnancy if I didn’t have other issues to contend with. I’m having one of those weeks where I just wish I was ‘normal’. In general I’m doing pretty well, but there are times when I feel really low. Tiredness is a big trigger for changes in my mood, and I’m definitely not getting much of that at the moment. There are things that will affect all pregnant women, like putting socks or tights on… it’s an effort that requires a few minutes of rest afterwards. Not forgetting the joyous backache and heartburn too. I’m also aware that I just have no energy in general at the moment though. Things I normally enjoy, I just can’t be bothered with. Quite honestly, there are days I’d rather just keep my pajamas on and stay in bed with the curtains closed than face the world.