After giving birth, Holly York, 31, Corsham, Wiltshire, found her life spiralling out of control...
After a relaxing pregnancy massage, I tucked into a delicious three-course dinner at a luxury hotel in the countryside. It was all to celebrate my first year of being married to Adam, 31.
‘It’s been a perfect day,’ I smiled at him.
‘Well, we need a chance to relax before this baby arrives,’ he replied.
I had just eleven days to go before my due date. With full bellies, we headed back to our room to cuddle up in bed and watch some TV. I soon fell asleep.
But a few hours later, I suddenly woke up in pain.
‘Babe, I think I’m in labour,’ I cried out.
‘Oh, my God!’ Adam slowly mumbled.
‘Don’t panic. Just pack up all our stuff,’ I ordered.
My contractions were getting closer and closer as we checked out of the hotel. But I felt incredibly calm and in control.
I was already 5cm dilated when I got to the hospital.
‘You’ve done well to get this far on your own,’ the midwife praised.
‘I’m actually enjoying it,’ I replied.
A few hours later, the contractions were so close that I just focused on my breathing instead of the pain.
Then, before I knew it, I heard the beautiful cry of my newborn baby.
‘It’s a boy!’ Adam shouted.
Seeing baby Leo for the first time was incredible.
He looked so perfect. I was overwhelmed with love. He latched on easily and breastfed for about 45 minutes.
Then the midwife offered me a bath – and I jumped at the chance.
But she forgot to tell me to bring a maternity pad with me and, to make matters worse, she showed another couple around the bathroom just after I’d been in there when it was a mess.
I was mortified.
Then we were told we’d have to sleep on a ward with other new mums and their babies that night.
So, just to get some privacy, we settled down for the night on sofas in the breastfeeding room.
For some reason, these incidents left me feeling unsettled.
The next evening, we arrived back home.
‘You need to get some rest, babe,’ Adam said.
But I was too pumped with adrenaline to sit still even for a second.
While Leo and Adam slept, I cleaned the house from top to bottom. In between, I breastfed and changed nappies and made cups of tea.
I had about an hour and a half of sleep in 48 hours, but I just didn’t feel tired.
When the midwife came the next day, I was manic.
‘Is Holly usually this chatty?’ she said to Adam.
‘Yeah, sort of,’ he replied.
The next day, when Leo was just 3 days old, we went out for a full day of shopping.
One lady stopped to coo at Leo.
‘Ahh, how old is he?’ she asked.
When I told her, her jaw hit the floor.
I began to realise that perhaps being so full of energy so soon after giving birth wasn’t normal.
When I got home, I tried to sleep but just couldn’t.
The next day, I took Leo into my old work to show him off. I was talking a mile a minute and bouncing around the place.
‘I want some of what she’s on,’ one of my old colleagues joked.
‘It’s just from the happiness of being a mum,’ I replied.
But deep down, I was worried. I did some research online and postpartum psychosis popped up on screen. Symptoms like trouble sleeping and manic moods sounded familiar.
I was scared if I told anyone, Leo might be taken away – so I kept it to myself.
But over the next few days, I became more out of control.
I started snapping at Adam for no reason at all.
Then, eight days after giving birth, the hallucinations suddenly started. I had visions of my dead body on the kitchen floor and of men breaking into the house to attack me.
In my head, there was ‘good Holly’ and ‘bad Holly’, and the bad version was trying to convince me to take my own life.
I even Googled What’s the quickest way to kill yourself?. I had visions of slitting my own throat.
‘You need to hide all the knives, I don’t know what I’m capable of,’ I told Adam.
‘You need help, now,’ he replied.
But, by this point, I’d seen midwives and my GP, but nothing had been done.
Finally, the next day, a mental-health team, including a GP, came to section me.
I was taken to Bristol’s New Horizon Mother and Baby Centre with Leo where a doctor immediately diagnosed me with postpartum psychosis.
They gave me anti-psychotic medication and, within 12 hours, I started to feel like me again.
But it took 13 days until I was allowed to go back home.
Four months on, I’m still taking medication but it’s being tapered off so I’m almost fully recovered.
I feel incredibly lucky that I came through the whole ordeal unharmed. But I’m angry my symptoms weren’t spotted earlier.
I want other new mums to know the warning signs so they can get help – before it’s too late.