Radio Aire presenter Caroline Verdon talks about anxiety and pregnancy struggles from her hospital bed

Caroline Verdon
Caroline Verdon

I’m pregnant, fat and mental and things are a bit of a struggle at the minute.

I’ve been in St James’ since Saturday evening as my blood pressure - which has gone from fine pre-pregnancy to wobbly now - just won’t seem to settle. Whether that’s because of something physical or mental, who knows? What I do know is that it’s sent my anxiety through the roof.

The sound of the blood pressure machine getting wheeled across the floor makes my heart jump into my mouth. A high result makes me panic to the point where I sat in bed, awake but desperate for the loo, for nearly two hours the other night as I was too scared to stand up and go to the toilet in case I had a heart attack or a stroke and died. Visions of never seeing my three-year old-again, of how I hadn’t kissed my husband goodbye when he left that night as I was hooked up to a machine, flashed before my eyes. What if that was the last chance I was going to get?

This was all anxiety talking, not science. I know because I’ve double, triple and quadruple checked with every consultant, doctor and midwife who’s had the misfortune of stepping into my room. For people who are rushed off their feet and completely underpaid for the roles they provide they’ve all been incredibly patient and kind and understanding when I’ve freaked out. Turns out there are loads of other medication options for me and this is just a case of trial and error to see what works best, but in the meantime I’m safe and in good hands and a part of me knows that. It’s just that the same part won’t allow me to feel it.

In my experience, the problem with anxiety is that it works on a cycle. You get anxious about something, so you seek reassurance whether that is through doctors, Dr Google or loved ones. That makes you feel better for a while but then the anxiety starts again and is bigger and needs more reassurance, so you seek it out and it settles again - but then the next time the anxiety is even worse and so it continues. The key is to break that cycle. Stop seeking reassurance or at least try to put it off for longer, then the cycle doesn’t have as much power to get so large and eventually settles down. But it’s hard to do.

It’s even harder when you’re by yourself for much of the day. When I was pregnant with Arthur, my husband would come in at 8am with his laptop and work from the hospital. We’d be able to chat and he kept me grounded and calm and would stay until they kicked him out at 10pm. This time it’s different as we have a three-year-old at home. Family have been great at picking him up from nursery and offering to have him but I don’t get to be selfishly anxious, I have to put him first and we have to keep things as normal as possible for him so that he doesn’t worry unnecessarily. This has meant Rob being around for nursery drop offs and in the evenings to put him to bed, with me maybe seeing him for an hour between him finishing work and doing the bedtime routine. Having all that time to wallow in worry is not pleasant.

But tomorrow is a new day. I really want to be back home as normal but only when I’m properly ready to do so. There’s no point rushing it and getting called back into hospital again. If there are any upsides to this situation then they’re two fold. 1: The baby is monitored twice a day which means for about 40 minutes I get to listen to his heartbeat and it’s strong and healthy and so lovely to hear. The absolute highlight of my day. And 2: It seems the lunch menu mainly consists of oven baked crispy jacket potatoes, which I absolutely love but tend to just chuck in the microwave through laziness so they don’t taste anywhere near as good. These are divine though. I thought hospital food was meant to be bad?