I desperately want to tell you about the post natal anxiety that grew like a pumpkin vine inside me, beginning from a seed, sneaking and growing slowly through my veins, affecting my organs and my mind, then my heart and finally my over all well being…
I have 2 children. One bouncy nearly 2-year old and another who would be just over 13 weeks old today.
I’ll get to the fourth trimester after baby loss in a minute, but first let me turn the clock back to the rocky first year after my 1st child was born.
I had a great birth the first time round. On due date, waters breaking pleasantly, short labour and text book delivery. Everything was as good as it could get to begin with. But then I started to catch myself saying things with hints of anxiousness about them. People wanting to visit caused me to feel anxious, getting my boobs out in public to feed my baby caused me to be anxious, anyone making noise while the baby slept would make me feel anxious, my in-laws wanting to visit their 1st grandchild all the time made me feel anxious and having to stand up for my personal needs made me feel anxious. Before I knew it, on top of lacking in sleep, I was irritable, angry and breaking down crying… all. the. time. I knew I had developed anxiety, but I don’t think I ever found the support I needed to help manage it.
I can honestly say that the post natal anxiety lasted right up until my second child died 2 days after birth (18 months after giving birth to my first child). If anyone ever says that PND or PNA will only last a short period of time, they’re lying. It can last forever if you let it. It will eat your soul. If you think that sounds dramatic, you probably haven’t had a child.
Now let’s fast forward to that ‘trimester’ after baby loss.
I think I let go of the original PNA when my husband and I had some “time apart” after the death of our second child. My walls dropped, my world caved in and I was left propping myself up against the strength of my 1.5 year old. I think If I didn’t have her, it would have been perfectly simple to trip and fall into the dark pit of depression. After endless confrontational conversations with my husband, I remember txting a friend and saying I wish I went into the ground with Paxton. I tear up now thinking about this, but her response was perfect. She said; “I bet you wish you went with Paxton. Coping with all of this is just too much for our wee souls sometimes. Know that you are beautiful inside and out and are loved by so many other people. And stay here for your new self and your darling girl”.
It was this message from a friend I hadn’t seen or heard from in YEARS and my 1.5 year old, that stopped me from tumbling into PND after baby loss. But from this, do you now see that it can happen so easily? Do you see that YOU can be just the person someone needs to save them?
The fourth trimester is real. It’s real, it’s raw and it’s the toughest part of a Mother’s journey into Motherhood. It’s the trimester that requires the most support and care; mentally, emotionally and physically.
I’ve learned a lot in my journey through the grief and challenge of losing a baby after birth, but here are some things that stick out for me the most;
5 things I’ve learned during the Trimester following babyloss
- You and your partner will grieve differently. Let it happen. Do what you need to do for you. Your partner needs to do the same. Peace will come when opinionated and nasty family or friends shut their big mouths and sincere friends advocate for the both of you.
- You’ve got to be honest about where you are at each day. People want to help you but baby death is a taboo subject that no one wants to talk about. You need to be the tour guide.
- Use the ‘ball in the box’ analogy to help grasp grief in a nutshell; Draw a square, draw a red panic button on one of the inside sides of the square, then draw a ball that takes up the whole space of the box. Grief is the ball. At first it’s huge and hits the panic button all the time. Over time, the ball slowly shrinks, never fully disappearing but hitting the panic button less often. (Credit: Lauren Herschel)
- You’ll surprise yourself. Friends will surprise you. Family will surprise you. People you least expect will be the ones you find most value in.
- Engage in all types of therapy you know and read about; verbal, written, meditation, yoga, sound bowls, reiki… anything.