*Trigger warning. This blog contains information about eating disorders and post-natal depression which some readers might find triggering. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.
Water Babies Mum, Shannon, started taking her little one to baby swimming lessons from 7 months old. She bravely shares her motherhood journey with us, and how special bonding in the water has been for her and her daughter.
My name is Shannon, I am a 30-year-old mum to my first daughter Orlagh who is 7 months old. Orlagh for me is the "miracle" child.
My journey to becoming a mum hasn’t been easy. At 18 years old I was diagnosed with anorexia and have suffered with an ongoing eating disorder for years. I was told by professionals there would be little to no chance I would be able to have children due to the trauma the eating disorder had on my body.
But this changed when I became pregnant with baby Orlagh. I think as a society we compare ourselves to others on social media and what the perfect pregnancy and family should look like. For me, my dream pregnancy wasn't the reality I thought it would be and it crushed me. When Orlagh was born, I thought it would take away the sadness I had been feeling for the last couple of months of my pregnancy, but it didn't. A lot of people said the overpowering sense of love would take the sadness from me the second she was born. However, when I first saw her that didn't happen for me. I was confused, I was angry, I didn't understand what was wrong with me.
4 weeks after Orlagh was born, I was admitted into a mother and baby unit for post-natal depression. I was so lucky I had people around me to notice the difference in my behaviour and realise I wasn't very well. No one tells you the effect pregnancy has on you or your mind. You lose control of everything, and control was something I liked.
I'm happy to say I have now been signed off by my perinatal mental health team after working with them for the past 7 months. I have been learning different ways to bond with Orlagh and our weekly Water Babies lessons has been one of them.
Water Babies has helped me to see how fearless Orlagh is, especially in the water. Watching her laugh and learn new skills that she will have for life makes me feel so proud of both of us for making it through such a difficult time. So, we've just finished our first few months with Water Babies and it's so amazing to see Orlagh so confident in the water, she is completely unbothered about going underwater, I was more scared than she was!
She’s completely incredible and fearless and what makes me happy is that she seems a lot like me. I'm happy I've found a safe environment where Orlagh and I can bond and learn to grow together.
I believe a problem shared is a problem halved and if I can help anyone that has been in my position by speaking out then that's my job done.
There’s always people who can help when you need them. As well as family and friends, if you feel as though you’re struggling, speak to your Doctor, Midwife or your local Perinatal Mental Health Service who will be able to help you.