When I look at my glorious six-year-old, Odette, I often thank the stars that she has no recollection of her first year of life. If she did, I suspect she would cry every time I came near her.
Odette is my second kid. She has been described by every teacher she has ever had as “the happiest child I have ever met.”
Odette is a dreamer.
Her primary choice of verbal communication is singing and she wears sparkly eyeshadow everywhere. I mean it, even when she has swimming lessons that shit is on her face.
Everyone loves her as soon as they meet her. She radiates joy.
When I found out I was pregnant with Odette, I had just started the most important job of my life – I was a breakfast radio host for 92.9 in Perth.
The timing wasn’t ideal but when is it ever convenient to house another human in your body then push it out of your vagina?! I didn’t really acknowledge I was pregnant for most of the time – I worked very hard and was on air the day I gave birth.
But I knew about a month after giving birth something wasn’t right.
I was having trouble bonding with Odette. I didn’t feel the euphoria that I had with my first child Marchella; sometimes it was as though I had been given someone else’s child. Odette was an excellent baby. She never cried, slept all night from very early on and was a good eater.
I returned to work six weeks after I gave birth. Looking back, that was mistake number one. I was still breastfeeding and trying to do breakfast radio hours; what kind of lunatic does that to themselves? The type of lunatic who is looking for a distraction from how shit she was feeling, that’s who.
I couldn’t find happiness in the usual places, everything was an effort and I was tired all the time but couldn’t sleep.
The overwhelming feeling, though, was guilt. All-consuming, breathtaking guilt. Who was I to be feeling unhappy? How dare I? Each morning I would wake up and say to myself: “Get your shit together, Rusciano.” But I just couldn’t.
I became proficient at pretending everything was okay for three hours on air each morning but as soon as the mics were off it was a different story all together. Then one morning I couldn’t pretend anymore.
Odette was 8 months old, my then-husband and I had just had our wedding and purchased a house… so I had no more excuses as to why I was feeling stung out and stressed.
I was completely broken on the inside, I said to my husband, “I just can’t do it today, Scotty.” He asked me what I meant and I replied: “Life.”
We agreed I should go to the doctor to get my iron levels tested and maybe get something to help me sleep. I walked into my GP’s surgery feeling shattered and a failure.
I explained to her how I was having trouble sleeping, how I felt sad, angry and irritable all the time, that I was having trouble eating, that my thoughts were almost exclusively negative and the guilt; oh, the guilt was unbearable.