The concept of looking after ourselves in order to show our children how to value their own health is important. Carving out space for me is an ongoing challenge - those minutes don’t just appear, and there are fewer than I would like - but it is essential, and it places mental health high up on the family agenda.
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a part of the hospital that parents don’t typically foresee their baby going to. In my experience, it’s not something that is regularly discussed during antenatal appointments or classes.
I have spoken extensively about the physical breakdown of my body when I was pregnant with my son and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. But I found it very hard to talk about what I went through mentally.
Out of the window flew my visions and preparations for a water birth. But I had a deep respect for the reality of the situation, and I agreed that a planned C-section would be the best bet. So, with my heart beating out of my chest, and with the help of an incredible team of medics, I gave birth to my first child.
Trigger warning: this piece contains mentions of suicide. Please remember that this is Helen’s story, and everyone’s experience is different. Take care of yourself when reading this and if you are struggling, please refer to our Urgent Warning.
Second time round you're supposed to be more prepared. You're supposed to feel a sense of ‘I know what's coming and I can handle it’, and to some extent, it’s true. But, for me, it was almost like ripping a plaster off a wound that I didn't even know was there.