by EMMA HEALEY
I recently celebrated my daughter’s third birthday, with a back yard birthday party, cake, balloons and an old fashioned pass the parcel.
I spent the day in awe of just how amazing she really is, what a great little person she was growing into.
I spent the evening crying, that this was in spite of me.
My daughter’s birthday also marked the anniversary of my battle with PND. A condition affecting as many as 1 in 6 Australian mothers. That is a lot of us.
My battle with PND is hard to recall, and harder to articulate.
If I had to try, I would say that I spent the best part of two years with my head in my hands. If I try to picture myself at the time, I can see myself with my head in my hands.
Have you ever seen a program or heard a story of a woman whom up and left her children, and perhaps shaken your head in disbelief at just how someone could do that?
I know exactly what it is like to want be that woman that left, and I would have given almost anything to be the person that would tut tut in disbelief again.
My time spent with my head in my hands is over, with support and medical treatment, PND is a battle I am very fortunate to say that I have won, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally stop and think of that battle, and weep at the fight, the destruction and the loss.
Sometimes it can swallow me whole.
Moments like my daughter’s birthday.
The third birthday meant the arrival of many “babies” (read: dolls) to our house – her favorite toy. My daughter mothers them so well, changing nappies, gently cooing and rocking, clumsily shoving dummies into small plastic mouths.
I had tears of joy at the excitement on her little face when she unwrapped each plastic baby, its accompanying dummy, bottle and nappy and finally a pink dolls pram to push them around in.
Then it will come, the tears sting the back of my eyes, my face burns hot and I can’t help but think that her obsession with these babies is because she missed that from me, that I may have damaged her in that way. My little girl will make a great mum one day. In spite of me.
I watch her play with the dolls from the door way to her room, as quietly as I can to observe her playing as though no one is watching. I feel so proud that she will play so well by herself, that she is content in her own company and so imaginative.
Then it will come, a pang in the pit of my stomach when I remember it is because she had to be. She is strong and independent because she had to be, imaginative and happy in her own company in spite of me.