Thursday, 5 February 2009

What's in a name? A new mum's identity!

Today I spoke in a lovely lecture theatre at St. Richard's Hospital in Chichester to a group of staff, including community midwives and students. Thank you for having me again! This trip I managed a mooch around the town - very nice!

I also received this message from a delegate at a recent event which I wanted to share (and have the sender's permission to do so)as I feel there are lessons for us all.

Dear Elaine, I listened to your speech recently identifying with everything you spoke about. I had PND with my first child and had my breakdown day too. I was lucky as I had moved house the month before and my new g.p whom I broke down in front of diagnosed PND immediately - by that time I had lost 9 months of my daughters life. I knew I had not been right and even at 6 weeks postnatally was trying to express these feelings to my health visitor and female g.p all who told me of course I was tired I was a new mum, then I would feel much better once I had returned to work!
I do believe that many first time mums do not realise that having a baby
is a life time commitment and life changing event and that you will never be the same again. You are a mum first and foremost and in the early days the old you ceases to have time to exist.
Identity of mum and dad is irrevocably changed.I was no longer just Barbara I was ' MuM' When I speak to new mothers I always address them by their name! They need to know they do still exist!
Feelings I was unprepared for were those that no matter what you do or don't do you will always worry and feel guilty! That's the role of a mother is it not?
I was told reassurance was that a smiling happy child is proof enough that you are doing okay! However if someone had told me that what I was feeling was okay and quite normal I would have been able to accept this. I know now that's its okay to worry and normal to feel guilty at times.
Everlasting needs of our children continue 24 hours a day, women are sometimes not prepared for this and the overwhelming burden of responsibility I had when I became a mum threw me.I thought I knew what being a mum would entail but I did not have a clue, the mixture of a love I would have killed for and all these other feelings scared me I did not know how to deal with them and no one reassured me that they were normal, to accept them, that I did not have to fix anything, nothing was broken!
I was a special care baby nurse of many years before becoming a mother and everyone assumed I knew what I was doing!
I am becoming a midwife so I can reassure women that even when things don't go to their expected plan to reassure them that providing they are well and baby is well they are okay and to try to ensure they are given the support and opportunity to be able to enjoy the baby they have so looked forward to having.
I was lucky although my partner was terrified of having to go through me having PND again we had another child and we got the support systems in place to ensure I did not get sleep deprived and had 'me time' every week. I now have two fabulous girls - yes it's hard work, yes I get tired, yes I feel gaily and I worry but that's my role and its normal. If I didn't feel this way I would be very worried. I know at least 3 other friends who have suffered with PND but all are ashamed of having it, 2 of which have not felt brave enough to go onto have another child.
In training we are taught to emphasize the normal, when are we going to acknowledge that PND is common and women who get it are normal in every other way?!!

Thank you for sharing that! I think there are lessons in there for us all.


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