Monthly Archives: January 2011

Our new arrival, and remembering the dark days of my first

Amber and Ollie

Amber and Ollie

Its been a while since I posted on my blog but I’ve had a pretty good excuse! We now have a three week old baby. He’s name is Julian Oliver, but are calling him Ollie. (It’s only taken us 20 weeks in the womb and 2.5 weeks since he was born to agree on a name.) In the end, Rob chose the first name and I chose the second but we’re calling him Ollie so I’m very happy with the compromise!
He’s absolutely adorable and I’m happy to say that I’m really enjoying being a mum the second time round. If I’m to speak honestly, I’d have to say that there wasn’t much that I enjoyed during the first 8 months with my first child, Amber. Unfortunately, she was such a terrible sleeper to begin with and wasn’t particularly happy with being breastfed and I was so naive about motherhood that I thought that I’d be having a good old holiday when the baby came out.
All these factors made me a perfect candidate for post-natal anxiety/depression. Initially, it was the lack of sleep which was the main factor but gradually I got more and more anxious about ever being able to get a decent sleep which really did me in. I knew that come night time, I’d have about an hour of feeding, an hour to get Amber to sleep and then about an hour in which to FALL asleep AND then actually sleep. So, I was feeling enormous pressure and to sleep which led to insomnia for about 8 months. And I knew that the most Amber would sleep at a time during the day was about 20 minutes so I couldn’t catch up then. This meant I was getting about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. I thought that this is what torture in Guantanamo Bay must be like!
Luckily I had a great obstetrician, Vijay Roach who was very aware of post-natal depression. During my 6 week post-natal check up with him, I think I burst into tears (which was happening quite frequently) in the first few minutes of seeing him. He immediately put me in touch with a psychologist who helped me work through all my anxieties through techniques such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Unfortunately, CBT didn’t seem to be helping me with my insomnia and I was still suffering 5 months later. The only way I was able to get even 5 hours sleep in a row was through sleeping pills such as Xanax. (Amber was sleeping through by this time after we did controlled crying with her at 3 months and introduced solids – frustratingly, I was not).
In the end, I accepted the need to go on anti-anxiety/depression medication. If only it hadn’t taken me 8 months to accept this! I started off on 30mg of Avanza and a couple of weeks later, I was falling asleep much more quickly than before. However, I was still waking up throughout the night and found it was taking me some time to go back to sleep. So, we played around with the dosage, trying a higher one initially, which didn’t work at all. And then I read up that Avanza works best on lower doses when treating insomnia – thank god for the information available on the web! So, in the end, about 15mg of Avanza did the trick although one of the side effects was that I had put on weight.
This time, I’ve decided that prevention is better than the cure, so I’ve been taking a really minimal dose (5mg) of Avanza since giving birth. I’ve also taken it intermittently throughout my pregnancy. I was a bit worried about the effects of this on my baby but he seems to be more than 100% healthy. From what I understand on the latest research is that Avanza is safe to take throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Importantly, it can save lives of women suffering from post-natal depression or anxiety – I know it brought me back from the edge when I thought there was nowhere else to go.