So as everyone knows by now I am pregnant, 31 weeks to be exact. Last week I had a scheduled visit from a Health Visitor, that I genuinely forgot about! So cue me answering the door in my dressing gown, hair tied up from the night before and more than likely make up all over my face! But the health visitor Amy didn’t bat an eyelid at me looking like a tramp or my messy house. She just smiled and asked if I wanted her to come back another time. I just thought it’s probably best her seeing me like this so she is under no illusions when she comes to see me when Button is here. So this post is another super honest post about feelings and shiz, but ultimately why you should be honest with your health visitor because they aren’t all doom and gloom like they are portrayed in the media.
I didn’t write notes straight after she had been this time as I wasn’t sure I was going to write about it at all, but then I thought it is all still relevant to someone! So it may not be as comprehensive as other appointments.
She introduced herself as Amy and I shouted up to Ra-Ra to see if she wanted to come downstairs but got a very quick no thanks and the sounds every parent hates return…a box of toys being emptied! So we go sit in the front room and she starts asking me the standard questions like yours and your partners health, what support you have, how you found being a parent the first time round (if you are obviously a parent already) mental health etc.
So I explained about my ileostomy and how due to issues with pain I had decided to opt for a cesarean; I also told her how I wish I didn’t have to have to do it and that I felt like have lost all control (I took a lot of joy in writing a birth plan this time round and researching stuff to do with different births and what have you) I will admit I started to cry at this point because it really has affected my mood levels.
She spoke to me about 00Steve and how supportive he is, what our home life is like (we literally have one big argument once every 6 months and it is usually over pretty quickly) does he work, and how he is with Ra-Ra and myself. He is pretty damn supportive to be honest – he just hates hospitals! Our home life is fine we both just feel worn down with how badly kept this house was before we got it and you think you are getting somewhere then something else happens its god damn never ending….I’m sure a lot of people out there know exactly what that feels like! He does work and she asked where, I simply responded with Northallerton because I didn’t see an issue – she seemed shocked that I just answered and explained that some women’s partners work miles away and that they panic more if they were to go into labour. I obviously don’t have that worry, but his work are really good with their staff so if I did go into labour he would be home quick enough anyway, the issue would have been who would have had Ra-Ra at such short notice and be able to get her. I told her that he is amazing with Ra-Ra because well he is, if you ever see the two of them together you will understand they are each others world. Which surprise surprise I started crying at mainly because I love their bond but it reminds me of all the times I couldn’t do things with her and how she automatically defaults to him, which I touched upon in the last episode of The IBD and Ostomy Support Show
She asked about my support network and to be honest I don’t really feel like I have one, well I mean that’s not strictly true I do have one. I know my mam would always be on the other end of the phone, the same with my nanna and my sister. I have a lot of friends but not that many that have kids that I could just meet up with. I do feel quite isolated but it isn’t to do with where I live or the fact I don’t drive, it has more to do with the fact I know I wouldn’t want to go sit round at peoples houses because the first thing that happened with Ra-Ra was she would be taken from me and they would do everything, I felt so dis-empowered and I will not go through that again and that was with family too. But now that 00Steve works days it wont be too bad because he will be home at a reasonable time and he is the only person that could just take a baby from me and it wouldn’t make me feel like a useless mother.
At this point the health visitor asked if I had tried counselling and I explained they made things worse I’m pretty sure I self harmed more when I went through counselling than I ever have. She asked me how I would do it and when the last time was. I’m pretty certain the last time was 2015 so I am pretty proud of that. Again she thanked me for my honesty because I know my triggers and when I’m not pregnant I am happy to take Sertraline (I take very little whilst pregnant of any medication) so I am more than happy to go back onto that if necessary once Baby Button is here. One question they ask is have you been depressed or had post natal depression. I answered yes to both of these but I do believe that because I know the symptoms of post natal depression I won’t pass it off like I did last time. She said instead of all the counselling and extra tablets was I happy having weekly visits just to make sure that I am okay, rather than checking up on Button and me being secondary. I agreed because it will be easier knowing I have someone coming to me on a set day rather than running the risk of getting low and not wanting to leave the house to go to the Doctors. We spoke about my ED and BDD and how once I was healed I was looking forward getting into running again and that I see a dietitian to keep my eating on track and that my next appointment with her was after Baby Button is born so we can work on having a decent nutrition base to go along with having a stoma, a newborn and my exercise.
We spoke about Ra-Ra and her going to nursery, how often does she go, does she enjoy it; at this point Ra-Ra came downstairs in some plastic heels she got for her birthday and grinned. So she started chatting to the health visitor who just had the biggest smile on her face. Ra-Ra told her how old she was and when her birthday is, that she was excited to be a big sister, that she enjoyed her nursery and she told Amy that she wasn’t in a dress she was in a nightie. I was relieved when Amy responded with “but you are only in the house so it doesn’t matter” because it wasn’t an early call! I did have the worries of I bet I sound like a nutcase but with Ra-Ra just being well her normal, funny, intelligent and kind self it shows I am obviously doing something right!!
We spoke about whether we had been including her in things to do with the pregnancy so when the new baby arrives she doesn’t feel left out. I explained she helped “build” the nursery furniture and cleaned down her old cot, that she helped fill the drawers and took the baby books out of her room and put them on the nursery shelf. I told her about how she came to the first scan and the gender scan, she picked out things for the baby before we knew the gender, she sings to my bump, she picked the babies name, she reads stories to my bump and she even cried when we finished the nursery and kissed my bump when we asked why she was crying her response was “because baby …. can’t see it yet!”. My only concern is how she will feel having to share 00Steve with someone else because when I kiss him she kisses my kiss off! Or peels my fingers off if I have my hand on him. But there is only so much you can do when the baby isn’t here for preparation for the big day.
So what I think the health visitor expected to be a short question and answer before being kicked out the door ended up being an hour of tears and honesty. But as she said to me she can only help me with the things I tell her, she isn’t looking to take my children away like some people think health visitors do and she wants to help make sure I am being the mum I want to be. Being a parent doesn’t come easy to some people, it didn’t with me but did with 00Steve so between us we do a damn good job. Before she left she asked me to fill in a questionnaire about the mental health services in the area, it was being conducted by Newcastle university to see what areas it is lacking in, which we both looked at each other knowing we didn’t need a questionnaire to tell them what the answer was. So I finished filling that in whilst she chatted more with Ra-Ra.
So even though I don’t think I will need them for Baby Button (I didn’t with Ra-Ra) I may need them to help me so at least they have some basic history to work with and it is relevant to present me not past me, which let’s face it is what they should be using!