TRIGGER WARNING: This post may contain details that readers may find distressing
Back in the middle of 2019 my partner and I found our lives taking an unexpected turn. We lost his father unexpectedly, 4 months later we lost my paternal grandmother, and exactly one month later my maternal grandmother. I found myself taking time off work to deal with upset of these bereavements. I was due to return to work in January, 3 weeks after the final loss.
When the New Year arrived, we hoped it would be a turning point for us. But things didn’t work out that way.
The week I was due back to work I ended up in the hospital at risk of going into preterm labour, but I was discharged after a few days as the doctors were happy that it wasn’t going to happen.
14 hours later our first child, a son, was born 15 weeks early, weighing only 755grams (1lb 11oz). The birth was traumatic enough in its own right as I did not even realise I was in labour. But the 14 weeks that followed were no picnic either. This was the time we spent in the NICU in both the Royal Victoria Hospital & Altnagelvin Hospital.
After a tough few months we were ecstatic to be getting our son home with us, but I did not realise that’s when I would find it even tougher to deal with being a first-time mother of micro-preemie.
The fact he got released home at the beginning of our first national lockdown last year made it a struggle to adapt. My mood plummeted because of lack of sleep, constant worrying, battling reflux, and having very little support because of lockdown and the restrictions that came with it.
Eventually, my partner and I decided that we needed help, as we were both struggling in different ways. My own mum who had been isolating for a couple of weeks had already moved in with us for a while until we found our feet.
But it wasn’t until September I realised how bad my mental health had got.
In September I decided I needed more help. I was prescribed Sertraline to help improve my low mood, and got referred for CBT counseling for my anxiety and feelings of trauma.
Since then I feel like I have come a long way, my mood has improved and I am getting ready to finally return to work, 4 months later than intended.
I still feel anxious at times and the memories of what we went through still raise their heads. I found it especially tough the week that our son was turning 1 recently, but I am choosing to find the positives in every day now.