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суббота, 7 января 2017 г.

‘My baby made me HATE my man’

Amanda Selvey, 38, presumed motherhood would come easily. But after giving birth, she almost lost her relationship and her sanity...




"It was five in the morning, my six-month-old baby son was screaming - and so was I.
My fiancé, Nick, tried to comfort me, but I turned on him, bellowing at him to get out of the house. As I looked at his face, I was consumed with hatred. Then I collapsed on the floor, sobbing at the mess I'd become since I'd given birth. I hated my life, tolerated my son and loathed the man I had thought I would marry.
Nick with Amanda at four months pregnant
A year earlier, Nick and I had been inseparable - we were engaged and excited about the birth of our first child.
I'd become pregnant by accident. I'd been on the Pill for years but my periods had stopped, so I decided to give my body a break in the hope that my natural cycle would restart and I could go back on the Pill after a few months. I assumed that if I wasn't having periods I couldn't get pregnant. I was wrong.
I was 33, but I didn't feel ready to be a mum - I wasn't mature enough. I dreaded the thought of giving birth. Friends had told me it was extremely painful, and I was terrified.
But there were also moments of excitement. Nick and I would sit on the sofa, imagining a little person sitting between us and I knew that although we were happy, becoming a family would bring us even closer together.
Then at 31 weeks, scans showed that my baby was unusually small. Five weeks later he'd stopped growing and I was taken into our local hospital in Kent to be induced a month early.
For three days nothing happened, but then I began to feel short of breath. Suddenly I was in agony with shooting pains across my chest and I was struggling to speak or breathe. I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening complication that means your blood pressure soars. This quickly developed into HELLP syndrome, a condition that causes liver failure and prevents the blood from clotting. My life was in danger.
After the birth Amanda struggled to bond with Joshua
It was too dangerous to perform a Caesarean because my blood wouldn't clot, and an epidural could have caused me to bleed into my spine. So I was given a blood platelet transfusion to help with the clotting and doctors told me to prepare for an emergency Caesarean.
But by some miracle Joshua arrived naturally. I was allowed gas and air and Pethedine for pain relief, but I was desperately ill and the experience was horrific.
When my baby was finally laid on my chest, I felt sick. Grey and skinny with a big head, Joshua looked like an alien. He weighed just 3lb 12oz, and was quickly rushed to the Special Care Unit. That's when the consultant told me I was lucky to be alive. It hit me that I might never have seen Nick, or my family, again. I felt it was all my fault.
The nurses placed a photo of Joshua by my bedside, I waited to be overwhelmed by love, but I felt nothing. Nick was beaming, but I couldn't understand why. Our baby seemed ugly to me. I had no feelings for him.
After two days I was allowed home, but Joshua stayed in hospital. I had no desire to visit him, and although I went begrudgingly, I just wanted to curl up and be left alone. It was down to Nick to take care of our son - he seemed better at it anyway.
Three weeks later Nick and I brought Joshua home. I continued to mope around the house and would go days without showering. I did what I had to for my son: I fed him, changed him but I felt no love for him. Once I looked at Joshua crying in his cot and I couldn't even see a baby - just a wide, screaming mouth.
The health visitor quizzed me about how I was feeling but I lied, saying it was just a bad day. Looking back I must have been mad - the help was there, but I wanted everyone to leave me alone. I now know I had severe post-natal depression.
Amanda put on a brave face, but inside felt suicidal
Nick bore the brunt of my resentment. Stuck in the house I felt like a slave. Before Joshua was born, I ran my own administration business. Now I felt like a prisoner.
If Nick left a wet towel on the bed I'd start a row that would escalate until I was screaming at him to get out of the house. I lost count of the times I told Nick to go, but he'd always refuse, saying I couldn't make him leave his son.
Once after a row, I looked at a kitchen knife and felt an overwhelming urge to stab him. I didn't, and thankfully our arguments have never been violent.
Throughout this time, Nick would email me articles about post-natal depression and birth trauma, but I refused to look at them. I felt he was saying I was mad.
With my confidence at rock-bottom, I stopped socialising with my friends and felt too ashamed to confide in my mum. Soon, Nick and I were like strangers forced to share a house. Our sex life was non-existent - we spent our nights lying with our backs to each other, seething with resentment.
Thankfully, I had started to feel maternal love for Joshua and had formed a bond with him. But my negative feelings towards Nick continued, and I felt nothing but loathing towards him.
Desperately low, I'd plot how to escape my miserable life. A couple of times I picked up some painkillers, wishing I had the courage to end my life. I was an awful mother, I deserved to die, but couldn't even do that. I was pathetic.
For almost two years, I made a good show of getting on with being a mother, and a happy-ish housewife. In fact, I was anything but.
Joshua celebrates his third birthday with his dad, Nick
One day, during a rare chat with a friend, I discovered that model Katie Price had spoken out about post-natal depression. She'd had it after giving birth to her son, Junior, now five. As I listened to what Katie had gone through - the mood swings, the loss of confidence, the suicidal thoughts - something suddenly clicked. This was me, this was how I felt.
I realised I needed help and went to my GP. He prescribed antidepressants and referred me to a counsellor. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder from the birth as well as post-natal depression.
Talking with the counsellor, I felt like a huge weight was lifting from my shoulders. Having somebody to share my thoughts with, someone who didn't judge me, was such a relief.
With each session I felt better. We talked about my relationship with Nick as well as the trauma of the birth. Slowly my feelings of guilt and inadequacy started to lift.
The following January, Joshua started nursery, and I was terrified. I had no confidence and dreaded meeting other mums. But it turned out to be a confidence boost. I made friends and felt less isolated. The 'old' Amanda was resurfacing. It felt good.
During one row I felt an urge to stab him
As my feelings about myself changed, so did my feelings towards Nick. I wanted to be physically close to him again. Although we did start to rekindle the physical closeness, sexual intimacy took much longer I was, and still am, terrified of getting pregnant again, despite being on the Pill. We won't have another baby. But we have got our sex life back. I have now realised how strong Nick's been - if it weren't for him, I'd have nothing.
In January last year, I told him I wanted to get married. He stared at me, shocked. I knew I needed to reinforce that I did still love him and this seemed like the best way to do it.
Counselling helped me cope with the aftermath of motherhood and I'm so grateful Nick stood by me. People think that having a baby will cement a relationship, but it almost split us up.
We're getting married in August and I'm looking forward to marrying the man I love, with our beautiful son there to be part of our special day."
Amanda and her family are happy again
 


Nick Cook, 34, owns a car design consultancy. He says: "When Amanda's 15-week scan showed that we were having a baby boy I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to be a dad.
But nothing could have prepared me for what happened when Joshua was born. I'll never forgot the moment a consultant pulled me aside and told me there was a real possibility that Amanda and our unborn son might not make it. It was devastating, and I honestly thought I'd lose them both.
Amanda changed almost immediately after the birth. Joshua was kept in hospital for three weeks and I had to practically drag her out of the house to visit him. It was heartbreaking - she didn't want to hold him and would make every excuse to go home.
After a few months, she changed towards me, too. She was always on a short fuse and when I got in from work she'd shout at me before I'd even closed the door. I dreaded coming home.
I begged Amanda to get help. I could see she had post-natal depression but she wouldn't believe me. Several times she asked me to leave, but I refused. Joshua needed me.
Mummy's boy: Amanda and Joshua, now four
Mummy's boy: Amanda and Joshua, now four
Staying in the relationship was more to do with my stubbornness than because I knew it was the right thing to do. I wouldn't let her get the better of me. It was incredibly hard not to just give up, but I forced myself to stay.
I tried to keep out of Amanda's way as much as possible to prevent arguments. Thankfully, I worked away from ¿home during the week, which helped. Even through the difficult times, deep down I still loved Amanda, and I knew she wasn't her normal self. But still, I hated her for hating me.
We spent two years barely speaking. I resigned myself to the fact that if I had sex again, it wouldn't be with Amanda. I'd never have cheated but it was hard living without the love and affection we'd always shared.
The turning point was when Amanda had therapy. Finally she seemed to have some hope that she could change. She started telling me how she'd been feeling. I was shocked to hear she'd been having suicidal thoughts - and felt guilty for not being aware sooner.
Slowly her resentment began to thaw and she regained her confidence. Over time, the physical affection crept back into our relationship. Amanda still has low moments, but we deal with them together.
Although both of us still struggle to cope with the memories of Joshua's birth, we've got to the point where we can put it behind us. We won't ever have another child, we can't risk going through that pain again, but it's a small price to pay for being happy. We've got each other - and Joshua. We're very lucky."
  • For support and advice on post-natal depression, call 020 7386 0868 or visit Apni.org.
  • PND: the facts


    • One in 10 women is diagnosed with post-natal depression (PND) after having a baby.
    • Between 70,000 and 100,000 women suffer from PND every year in the UK.
    • It usually starts two- eight weeks after birth.
 

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