I had a relatively ‘easy’ pregnancy. I say easy in quotation marks because even the simplest of pregnancies isn’t easy. You’re growing a human. You deserve a bloody medal. I did however have SPD from about 4 months till the day I gave birth but in the grand scheme of things and knowing how much other woman suffer I figured that I should just focus on the positives. Again, I had a relatively ‘easy’ birth (I will link my birth story here) and for that I was and still am unbelievably grateful. Instagram has opened my eyes to just how traumatic birth can be for some people so I know I’m lucky to not have experienced anything like that. I was besotted with Evie the moment I clapped eyes on her full head of jet black hair and from that very moment my love grew stronger every single second. I gave birth at 10:35 pm so had one overnight stay on the ward and I was discharged the next day. Everything seemed to be going so smoothly and ‘to plan’. We settled into home life and we were absolutely head over heels in love with our bundle of joy.
Fast forward two weeks and I started to feel really strange. My stretch marks on my stomach started to become really itchy and began to feel very neurotic. I ignored it at first as I figured my body was adjusting to all the changes, i.e. my stomach was deflating from the huge balloon it had become and my hormones were all over the place. However before I knew it my itchy stretch marks had turned into a rash and it spread across the whole of my stomach. This then spread to my arms, my legs, my hands and my feet. I cannot even describe the itch. It is honestly indescribable. I had no idea what was happening to me! My Mum and I spent hours and hours trawling through google and came to the conclusion that I had PUPPS even though that 99% of literature said it starts in late pregnancy, I suppose I was the exception and got it after I had given birth.
“PUPPS (Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy), also known as PEP (Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy) is a fairly common skin condition seen in pregnancy.”
I went to see my GP, a nurse practitioner, my health visitor and my midwife and none of them knew what I was. (I love the NHS with all my heart but I mean seriously guys *eye roll*). After making my third appointment at my surgery I finally got to see the skin specialist who confirmed it was in fact PUPPS. Yes this is a psychical skin condition, but due to the severity of the itchiness that you feel every second of every day it also effects your mental health. I will not shy away from the fact I went CRAZY. As in genuinely thought I was going mad. This horrendous skin condition combined with the hormones you have racing around your body after birth took me to a scary place. I’ve already mentioned I suffered with post natal anxiety (linked here) but this coupled with PUPPS sent me in a downwards spiral. After more research I’d read and also heard first hand from other women that they were genuinely suicidal from the pain they felt from this horrendous skin condition and a high percentage of PUPPS pregnancies end in c-sections as the mother can’t physically or mentally take it any longer! Saying you felt ‘itchy’ is honestly the worlds biggest understatement because unless you’ve been through it yourself there is no way I can accurately describe how it feels. After seeing the skin specialist and being diagnosed he confirmed I had a severe case and the only silver lining was that because I wasn’t pregnant and I got PUPPS after giving birth I was able to take steroids. I honestly cannot imagine feeling what I felt and not being able to take anything for it. I took a course of steroids for a week and he did warn me they might not work (queue me freaking out!) but he promised me, although it’s not something they do lightly, that he would give me a second prescription for another course of steroids should the first not work. He was right, the first course did not work and I saw very little improvement until the beginning on the second week of steroids. Thankfully the second does of steroids began to clear up the rash and it slowly started to disappear.
The main thing about this whole experience I had to go through was I suffered in silence for a long time, I kept my thoughts to myself and I also didn’t go to see a doctor until the second week of having the rash. Looking back I have no idea why, maybe it’s because I was living in my newborn bubble and I didn’t want it to pop. But it ended up popping on its own with a loud bang when I let this skin condition and my thoughts get on top of me. I knew all along it was PUPPS just from reading google so I should have headed straight to my doctors there and then and told them what it was instead of being passed from pillar to post with no real diagnosis. Every Mother is vulnerable just after giving birth so the slightest thing can tip you over the edge. Thankfully I eventually got the care I needed and the rash healing coincided with my with anxiety clearing.
There are so many sides to child birth and pregnancy that nobody talks about. I never dreamed of this happening to me and it did steal some of my precious newborn days away from me as I just could not enjoy anything never mind soak up my baby. However this was only temporary and I came out the other side but it’s important to remember always follow your gut instinct!!