My husband and I had been trying to fall pregnant for three years without any luck. Finally, we took some action and it was discovered that for us to have a child IVF would be our only option. Our IVF journey was very short, and we were very lucky to fall pregnant with our daughter in the first round.
I had struggled with anxiety throughout my adulthood so when selecting an OB, it was important to find a doctor who could help me manage my anxiety throughout the pregnancy to minimise any risk of my anxiety getting the better of me and thankfully we had contacts that allowed us to see Dr Vijay Roach.
My due date was approaching and my anxiety levels for the safety of my child were getting a little out of control, so it was decided that it was time for Riley to be born. Once Riley was born it was apparent that her blood sugar level was causing concern, so she was moved into the ICU where she remained for approximately one week. This caused me to suffer a lot of guilt due to that fact that my anxiety was the catalyst for her to be delivered early. Given her level of jaundice and overall poor health she should have remained in the womb for a little longer. So overall the first week of Riley’s life was a little stressful, but we made it through.
Once we got home the first couple of months were pretty good. Of course, we went through the natural feeling of being completely out of control, lacking sleep and mourning our old life. But overall, we were pretty content.
Four months in and the end of my maternity leave was quickly approaching (6 months). Riley was still not sleeping through the night. She needed constant love and support and we were very far from a routine, this made it impossible for me to imagine that she could be left through the day with someone else. This in turn led me into a very quick downward spiral.
My journey into PNDA first started with extreme anxiety and OCD. I started to get obsessed about Riley’s sleeping patterns and Riley’s health, it was something I focused on constantly. I was so wound up that even when I got an opportunity to sleep I just couldn’t, which would cause me greater frustration.
My girlfriends and I had planned a weekend away to celebrate a friend’s birthday and this would be my first time away from Riley. I was extremely overwhelmed the day we were scheduled to leave because Riley had not had her recommended hours of sleep. Once away I had a great time, but I still found myself obsessing over Riley’s sleeping patterns. On the way home, I felt this fear about going home, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I knew I loved my family very much, but I was overwhelmed by the stress of keeping everything on track and being responsible for this beautiful little girl.
The next morning everything started crashing down. I contacted my mum and communicated to her that I couldn’t live like this anymore, the feeling of pure anxiousness had taken control and I could not see a path forward. I remember sitting on the couch feeling like the anxiousness was unbearable and therefore my only option would be to end my life to get away from the pain and noise that was constant in my mind. Nothing was more important than getting away from the feelings I was experiencing.
I look back now and I realise that the anxiety had been building over a couple of months, but it took me to go away and come back into the situation to push me over the edge.
That day Dr Roach was called, and I was set up to see a psychiatrist, but I couldn’t get into see him for a couple of weeks. At that stage I felt that if I didn’t get help in the next 48 hours, I wouldn’t be alive for much longer. So luckily I was able to get in to see the psychiatrist in 24 hours.
My psychiatrist put me straight onto medication and prescribed Valium until the medication started to take effect. For the next couple of weeks my family and friends rallied around me to make sure I got the sleep and rest that I needed to rebuild myself, and in the beginning the progress was very slow, to the stage where I was really scared it wasn’t working. But then I started to get small glimpses of a weight lifting which started to build hope that I was going to be ok. My psychiatrist, who I still see to this day, was a life saver. He spoke to me in a language that was logical and resonated with me, which meant that I trusted him completely.
I remained fragile for about 12 months but each week, and month ,gave me more confidence that I was going to be ok, and even better than I was before PND.