Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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My Scary Baby Journey 1

I was so happy to find out that I was pregnant with my second baby, our first baby...a lovely little boy called Ben was a 'surprise' to say the least and it was nice to be married and have a 'planned' baby....although on hindsight I think that's where we went wrong!

I had Ben when I was 22 and despite having mild postnatal depression after having him I remained well until he was about two when I became seriously unwell with symptoms of PTSD following childhood abuse. I was put on a host of medication and some how battled my way through my fourth year at medical school.

Despite having been very unwell, I had started seeing a psychologist who had been enormously beneficial and I felt well enough that I talked to my hubby about trying for another baby. Where we live in Cornwall there is no perinatal service but I arranged an appointment with my psychiatrist to discuss the risks/benefits of having a baby and continuing on my medication. I believe this is where the problems for us started, we were encouraged to try for a baby and to continue taking my medication. I was later to find out that Venlafaxine, one of my tablets caused high blood pressure in pregnancy. I think here alone highlights how important a perinatal service is....if I'd known what I know now then I things could have been very different.

I had a normal first pregnancy apart from suffering with pelvic girdle syndrome (PGS) which was incredibly painful but gave birth to my son in the water naturally at 39 weeks. This pregnancy was to be very different...

Things that I think impacted during the pregnancy...

- I developed SPD a lot sooner at around 15 weeks, I was in excruciating pain and unable to look after my little boy at the time

- my psychologist went on maternity leave and I was left with a CPN I had met only a few times

- my nana died at when I was about 20 weeks pregnant

Things started to turn odd...

At around 24 weeks pregnant I felt things around me change, looking back I can't really pin point what but I felt that my baby was somewhat alien and felt very disjointed from her. I no longer wanted to be pregnant, I felt extremely low and depressed. I felt like I had a million things that had to be done and that I was being judged for not doing them. I think these were my first symptoms of what was to unfold.

Rock bottom....

26 weeks. I had a vivid dream that the baby was an alien and had to come out. I was hurting a lot from the SPD. I took a weeks worth of my medication and overdosed. Immediately I felt awful, everyone was going to know I tried to kill the baby. I told my husband. I was taken to HDU and monitored. I was seen by my psychiatrist and sent home, my midwife would visit me more frequently. I was embarrassed, ashamed and felt like I was doing exactly what everyone thought I would do. I was already an awful mum. I tried to talk but couldn't get the words out.

...and I thought things couldn't get any worse...

I was home for a few days before my blood pressure soared and I became grossly swollen all over, my kidneys had begun to fail. I was admitted to hospital and eventually onto the maternity HDU after I struggled to breathe as I had fluid on my lungs from my kidneys failing, I was told I had a atypical preeclampsia and nephrotic syndrome and that my baby needed to be delivered. I felt awful, I couldn't catch my breath, the night before they couldn't find her Herat beat in the middle of the night so I had to have an emergency ultrasound scan. I had two steroid injections and started magnesium sulphate to prevent me fitting. In the morning at 9:32am I had an emergency Caesarian section and our daughter was born weighing 2lb 7oz at 29 weeks to the day.

I was overjoyed...

I going to highlight the word 'over' here. I was literally over joyed, I went straight onto Facebook, text all my friends....but I didn't ask about the baby. In fact, my husband showed me a few photos but I wasn't really interested. I couldn't move so I didn't see her for three days, more worryingly I didn't want to. I wasn't phased by the fact she was in an incubator and on a ventilator, I just did not want to see her, I literally felt fear about this baby who I already knew was going to kill me. I let all my family go and see her and they all informed me she was perfect. I was completely oblivious to what had just happened around me.

*think I'm going to have a little pause there, didn't know this would end up so long....*

6 Replies

Thanks so much for sharing the beginning of your story Vix28. A very brave step to write it all down - I hope you find the process cathartic in some way and that you get a chance to switch off now and have some down time.

What a tough time you have experienced since your son Ben was around two - PTSD can be very debilitating. And your second pregnancy sounds extremely difficult and scary - it would be more than enough for anyone to endure the rare pre-eclampsia let alone go through PP straight after with a premature baby. The NICU environment is very stressful (my second baby was poorly so I know what it's like in there). It must have been so hard for you and your family with your baby poorly and you becoming seriously ill.

I know your story will resonate with other women so thanks again for sharing. I can identify with believing impossible things (or delusions as they can be called) - fear was a big part of my psychosis.

I look forward to the second part of your story when you feel ready .....

Take care, N xx


Thanks so much for sharing part of your story. It`s amazing to hear other people`s stories and how much you have got through.

It is very brave and so important to put it into words and a big help to others who have been through a similar thing.

Well done for being so strong and look forward to hearing the next part of your story.

I had PP nearly 18 years ago and had some similar symptoms. I find it helps so much to hear about similar experiences.

Look after yourself,

Sarah x


Hi there

I sympathise with you and can ally myself to what you are going through.

I had two episodes of pp that wre not treated

I am trying to build a new life with my new husband and look forward to the future,whatever that may bring

Take Care xx


Hi Vix

Just read this first part of your story. What a huge amount you had to endure through your second pregnancy... Antenatal specialist services are so vital, it is so unjust that your physical health could have been spared if you were over the border in Devon and had access to a PNMH team and decent pregnancy prescribing. Were you under an obstetrician at all?

Congrats on returning to med school. You will make such a difference as a clinician with first hand experience. What speciality do you think you are drawn to?



Thanks for all your kind comments and I hope you're all well x


Thank-you for sharing your story. I look forward to hearing more when you feel ready.


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