The arrival of my daughter's first baby was awaited with great excitement after nine months of trouble free pregnancy during which every care and nurturing of the baby had taken place.
The birth of our little granddaughter was at forty-one weeks, induced and by epidural, and all went well.
With great excitement, happy anticipation and love we travelled to London to meet her. A joyous time indeed, all was wonderful.
Our new little family went home to start this new chapter in their lives but on day five, however, all was to change. My daughter suffered a panic attack at home and was re-admitted to the unit where our granddaughter had been born, amid real confusion as to what was happening to her and a psychiatrist had been called in to see her.
My daughter?? A beautiful, positive, competent, funny young lady! What on earth was going on?
My daughter and I had always had a very close and loving relationship through both happy and difficult times, as is life, and it was therefore a devastating blow to me and to my husband that amidst all this confusion my daughter stated that she did not wish to see us any more. I later understood this was the illness talking.
The next few days were clouded with the pain and guilt that I felt and above all, utter bewilderment. If only I knew where to turn for help but I had no place to go for advice. If only there had been a forum like this one available so I could ask questions and seek reassurance.
After a few days of this, my daughter had been seen by the psychiatrist, diagnosed with Postpartum Psychosis and admitted to a psychiatric clinic but thankfully for me, had asked my husband and I to go to see her.
We went immediately to see her and her poor husband and dear little baby. I found my daughter heart-broken, bewildered, anxious, and so sad. The very opposite of her usual self. Where had my daughter gone??
Information was scant, I'd never heard of PP, although I'd worked in hospitals for 30 years and the sadness I felt for my daughter, her lovely husband and their beautiful little girl was truly profound.
The anger had gone from my daughter now and we resumed our close bond and as my son-in-law had now to return to work, I moved to London to their home and helped look after my grand-daughter, Monday - Friday. My overriding concern was that, if possible, my daughter should bond closely with her baby and therefore each day we would arrive at the clinic as early as possible and stay until my son-in-law arrived after work at 7pm, when he and my gran-daughter would be with my daughter together for an hour or so and then the three of us would travel back to their home for the night. My poor son-in-law, it was all so wrong that he should be with his mother-in-law not his wife and heart breaking for my daughter that she was left behind in the clinic alone and without her baby and husband. With hindsight it would have been so much better if she'd been in a mother and baby unit, but we swept along with the perceived decisions of the professionals she was under.
During each day, my daughter and I would do the simple tasks of looking after a newborn, feeding, changing, cooing, washing etc and each day we'd take her for a walk in her pram in the fresh air of Regents Park. My daughter was so sad and so anxious, but did brilliantly at looking after her baby, against such odds. My mantra was "you will get better darling (but would she??) "let's just take it one day at a time.” Constant encouragement and love was all I knew!
This cruel regime lasted for nine interminable weeks and my daughter, although not yet well, was discharged and came down to stay with my husband & me with, of course, her husband and new baby.
It took a few more months, further and different medication from an expert perinatal psychiatrist locally, and being in a loving family unit with every possible support for the gradual return of our darling daughter to us. Six months on from the birth, my daughter with her new family, moved into their new home to pick up their lives together.
Today, nine years on from this heartbreaking time, my daughter is 100% her normal wonderful self, she and her daughter having the closest of mother/daughter relationships, and with the addition of my little grandson, three years after the first birth, (and with absolutely no hint of problems after his birth) the four of them are an exemplary model of a happy family.
For any fellow Granny’s who are experiencing something similar, all I believe we can do is to be as reassuring, loving, positive, and practically useful as possible, even though you feel despairingly sad inside! You will get there and this dramatic illness thankfully has a very good prognosis.