This time of year is important to me.
I don’t celebrate Easter outside of gorging myself on chocolate, but nonetheless, this time of year is important to me. Not because of any religious significance, and not because of any traditions I follow. Rather, it is special because this time of year means I get to enjoy four days off work, which is time I can spend uninterrupted with my delicious little boy.
I get to watch him giggle and learn as he plays. I get to fall asleep with him when he has his lunchtime nap, holding him in my arms as he gently purrs next to my face. I get to play trains with him for hours on the lounge room floor. And although my gratitude for these moments is always there, it is more palpable at Easter.
This time of year is when many celebrate religious beliefs and/or the visit of a fictitious chocolate-laden bunny. But for me, Easter is a time to remember that two years ago, I came dangerously close to missing out on all the blissful moments of being a mum to my son. Because while friends and family were happily feasting on beer and seafood, and gleefully inhaling handfuls of chocolate eggs, in Easter 2012, I fell victim to post-natal depression, and convinced myself that it was time to die.
Two years ago my son had spent the first eleven days of his life not in my arms, but in a humidicrib attached to drips and tubes. After contracting a bacterial infection at birth, he was whisked away from us in the delivery room and taken to the special care nursery. I spent every day sitting by his side, wondering what I had done wrong; how I had caused his illness. My husband, always a pillar of strength, never left my side. He was as traumatised as I was.
My labour was not a straightforward one, and ended up being over 40 hours in duration and unnecessarily traumatic. I went into shock almost immediately after I pushed my son from my body. This provided the perfect moment for my mind to escape to a place I had avoided for years.
It was the little corner of my brain where the sensible was irrational, and where logic was replaced with guilt. It was also the place where the negative voice that had whispered to me for most of my adolescence inevitably started to shout, louder and louder.
The messages of that voice didn’t make me cry for hours, and they didn’t make me unable to get out of bed. I fed, bathed and held my son every single day. I ate dinner and I made jokes with friends. I still painted my nails, blow-dried my hair and kissed my husband goodnight. And all the while, the words of that little voice in the back of my mind that I had tried so hard to ignore, were gaining volume.