Thank you to everyone who submitted their stories for our Parenting in a Pandemic piece. We are covering one a week for 3 months due to the response we got, all absolutely incredible pieces that show the honesty behind lockdown, what we encountered along the way and where we are now. We have decided (unless the author has requested to not be anonymous) that names and details will be withheld and have left it to them to come forward if they'd like to and if they feel comfortable.
I gave birth in November as a first-time mum. After a tricky pregnancy and developing a blood clot in my third trimester I was moved to consultant care, but I used hypo-birthing principals and got the calm birthing experience I wanted. I then had to go to surgery due to complications with the placenta and loss of blood, but I recovered well and went home after 3 days tired but in shock at how amazing this thing I had created was.
My son had weight issues picked up when I took him to be weighed at 6 weeks. Following lack of growth we had a further 8 weeks of regular weighs in & breastfeeding support & referral to RBH due to failure to thrive. It took 14 weeks and me crying to the GP for specialist formula to get get professional to consider that it was cows milk allergy. Going into lockdown I was on edge and anxious as a mother. I had spent so far justifying my parenting decisions and felt criticised by professionals. During the diagnosis process I had been told that if I didn't supplement his nutrition I was risking my child's IQ also that I was harming my child by co-sleeping even though I followed the safe sleep principals. It made me over think every parenting decision and that I was getting it wrong, I didn’t trust my instincts. I had a panic attack in Tesco beginning of March as I was convinced something bad would happen to my son who I had just left with my husband. I reached out to my health visitor and got a IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) referral & medication just as lockdown began.
During lockdown my emotions and feelings shifted considerably; I had irrational thoughts and I became convinced my mother who had to shield would die & I would never see her again. The media & daily briefing made my already heightened anxiety worse and I struggled to tune it out until way into lockdown. It was infuriatingly hard to get through to my GP to alter medications and it took longer for me to get the correct dose & top ups of my sons formula. My parenting guilt was made much worse by my son choosing a bottle preference & I wrestled over the end of my breastfeeding journey when I felt formula wasn't my choice. I couldn't get over the guilt that I missed seeing he wasn't well. I took my anxiety out on my husband as the only person I had contact with but he even struggled with how irrational my thoughts were at times.
With help from my counsellor and the doctors, I began to see light at the end of the tunnel. Once my medication was at the right level & evened out I was able to communicate and explain my issues to my husband. The service I received from IAPT was on par with what I would have received pre-lockdown. I worked through CBT online program & have strategies to help me manage my anxiety but it is always still there.
Despite the long delay from my GP a referral was made to the allergy team and they have been the most helpful and understanding people about my son's issues so far. Subsequently his weight has shot up as well as his height as he started weaning & loving food. Throughout all of this, the bond between my son and I has never wavered. He has been such a constant source of love and light and we are eternally grateful to have him and all that he brings in such a difficult time.