13 October 2016.
The lowest point of my parenting journey to date.
On that particular Thursday afternoon, I was admitted to a Mother and Baby psychiatric unit because my postnatal depression had gotten to the point where I could not cope anymore. Walking through those doors was one of the scariest things I’ve done, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I did it.
Sitting here 5 months later, it’s hard to pinpoint when it all started. I’ve struggled with anxiety and periods of depression since high school, yet I’ve always been able to manage it myself with diet and exercise. There were times when it was difficult, but it was a lot easier to deal with my mental health issues when I had only myself to worry about.
Charlie was an extraordinarily good baby. She slept through the night at 4 months old, napped anywhere, stuck perfectly to a routine and was constantly happy. Life with Charlie was easy! Our days were full of coffee dates and meeting up with friends, I was able to keep the house spotless (just the way I like it) and a gourmet meal was on the table most nights when Nick got home. Our lifestyle catered perfectly to my OCD tendencies and anxiety, because everything was in my control.
When Cooper was born in June 2016, a lot changed. Cooper was also a good baby, but he was very typical of a “normal” newborn. I struggled to help Cooper get into a routine, because I was still trying to carry on with Charlie’s daily activities too. At the same time, Charlie was going through a major developmental stage, and that added with the arrival of her little brother resulted in major tantrums and a massive change in Charlie’s demeanour. The adjustment to two kids was HUGE for me. I would try to leave the house and manage to get one kid ready, but by the time I had the other ready to leave, the first would have vomited or poo’d or needed to change their clothes. By the time we got out, both were overtired and cranky. I felt like I was taking one step forward, and the kids would drag me 5 steps back. Life seemed very unproductive, and I began to feel unmotivated and guilty.
I’ll never forget one particular day when I decided to duck into Priceline after a morning at the gym. I had Cooper in the pram, but Charlie’s attachment was still in the car so I let her walk beside me through the shopping centre. When we got into Priceline, Charlie ran an absolute muck. She was grabbing everything she could reach off the shelves and even pushed a display over! I couldn’t control her while also trying to stay by the pram and Cooper, so I grabbed her into my arms and walked out. As I walked out of the exit she punched me straight in the eye, and I burst into tears! So with a toddler screaming in one arm and pushing the pram with the other, I managed to call Nick as I bawled my eyes out walking back to the car. I shoved Charlie into the car and slammed the door behind her. I was shaking and couldn’t stop crying, and kept telling Nick that I was scared to get in the car because I didn’t want to be around Charlie.