For those of you who have been following my posts you will be aware of how PND following the birth of my daughter in April 2010 dominated me for the first few months of her life, and has accompanied me in someway or another since, and although mental illness is not visible to the naked eye for me there is one huge factor in my battle with PND that is - "the mummy tummy"....
Before I was pregnant, like many women, I was on a constant diet of some sort of another to keep my figure at a healthy and attractive size 12 on finding out I was pregnant I am not ashamed to admit one of my concerns was the changes that lay ahead for my appearance.
I have posted previously about (if you have not read these you may wish too now as it probably makes understanding my journey and my writing style easier) the unexpected and fairly difficult pregnancy I had, but one of the very first difficulties I experienced in my pregnancy was coming to terms with the physical changes to my body - which in turn had a huge affect on my mental health.
Now don't misunderstand me I was under no illusion that my body would stay the same throughout the 40 weeks of gestation, and the days after the birth... the reason I say "days" is quite simple: thanks to the media's portrayal of celeb mum's who within a few days after their little ones have simply popped out are back fighting fit and in a size sodding 6 dress even the ones that believed they were too posh to push and decided they would have a c sec courtesy of hotel Portland! This riles me because, as like many image conscious girls do, I truly believed I would be leaving The Rosie Maternity hospital the size I was when I pee'd on a stick all those months earlier. I even went as far as buying an outfit to bring Lylha home in that still hangs in my wardrobe with the tags on. Of course this was not the reality!!!
The first real obstacle for me to overcome mentally in regards to my appearance came when I was just 11 weeks pregnant courtesy of my husbands grandmother, we were at the wedding of Michael's aunt and aside from his parents and siblings this was the 1st time I was meeting his family (we had been together 9 almost 10m at this point) so naturally I was nervous. She came over to Michael and I after the wedding breakfast and said to me "so are you having twins" I replied with an awkward laugh "Not that I am aware of" (I had an early scan as didn't know dates) she then proceeded to say "are you sure, because your big aren't you?" Now as you can imagine this 1st impression still haunts me, and I left that night with a hubby that was slightly worse for wear and sobbed that I had obviously changed physically so much in a short period of time that I looked fat. Of course I understand it was the bump she was referring too but none the less it really troubled me.
Throughout my pregnancy people continually pointed out the glamorous side with lovely comments such as "my god your boobs have got massive", "your waddling well", "wow your blooming" Now I know these remarks were never meant to cause offence but I found them really challenging to accept. I wanted to look in the mirror and see the woman I was before with just a baby bump - not with puffy ankles, not with an ever growing posterior and not with fingers that needed the wedding ring removed. I truly never felt I "glowed" or "beamed" I felt like whale that waddled like a duck and it really upset me and I am more than sure that my feelings towards my image throughout my pregnancy were a factor in then developing PND.
The reason I believe that my image was a factor in becoming ill with PND is because I still (despite friends of mine having babies and seeing them in the weeks after) really believed I would have Lylha and the weight, the tummy and the boobs would be back to their "regular Laurinda sized self" after she was out. I even convinced myself after the spinal had taken effect and just before they began the c sec (emergency most definitely NOT elective) that this would mean I would be like Vicki Beck's and have my body back that day.
Of course in reality this most definitely did not happen, the days that followed were equally as frustrating I came home and tried on pre pregnancy clothes and they went nowhere near me. Staring into the mirror whilst doing this broke my heart. I could see a lady looking back at me that had my face and was crying my tears but was someone I most definitely did not recognise.
When I started the meds and the talking therapy for PND I told my GP that the way I looked and the weight I had gained was one of the factors that was making me so unhappy and that I had a mental argument going with myself that one side was "I hate the way I look now" and the other saying "don't be so ridiculous beauty is only skin deep" ... I was almost delighted when he reassured me that body image is a major influence on people's mental health and to know that I wasn't alone in how I felt made me feel less stupid and eased the guilt of being a little vain.
Once I started the treatment for PNDpre preg weight and only 2 dress sizes away. As time and treatment carried on as did the weight loss.
Once my treatment for PND was complete in the terms of meds I noticed that my weight loss had slowed and almost stopped with maybe only 1lb a month being shed. I won't lie this has massively disheartened me but has not pushed me back into a state of PND despair.
I still find it really hard to see and hear off celebs that have had their babies and are the epitome of a "yummy mummy" almost instantly, likewise I find it really difficult not to get upset when I see and read of curvier ladies in the public eye under so much pressure to be stick thin rather than curvy and size sexy.
In respect of the PND I'm in recovery, but for the time being the way I look - Well I can't see when I will ever be at peace with the mirror, as I still don't accept the girl looking back at me through tear stained eyes is me.