I fell pregnant with Willow in October 2015. She was a surprise to us as we were told that it was not possible for us to fall pregnant naturally. Fast forward 41 weeks and I bought Willow into this world in July 2016. I had a pretty sh*tty pregnancy – in fact, I actually hated it.
At no point throughout those months did I have mental acknowledgement that my baby was a real baby. I saw her in scans, I felt her move, but to me, she was something so foreign. People would ask if I was excited to meet her, so I lied. I was excited for the pregnancy to be over. I ended up going over so I was induced, 15 hours of natural labor before an emergency caesarean. Still at no point did I feel anything for this human that I was about to give birth to. My husband would tell me how in love he was with our little girl but I didn’t get it.
How could you love something that you have never seen? I didn’t get.
She was lifted up to be shown to me and I was so off it, I didn’t even see her. She was there, but I wasn’t. They asked if I wanted to see her and I said yes but I still did not acknowledge her as mine. Greg held her next to me and I just looked at her, blankly as if she wasn’t mine. I was taken to recovery and they put her on my chest to do skin to skin.
Here, they would say. Feed her, try and get her to feed from you. I did, but I didn’t feel anything. I cried, but I cried because I was traumatised. I was in hospital for four days and I just functioned. I fed her, I changed her, I held her but I did it like it was routine. Did I love her? I’m going to be honest and say I don’t know. What is it supposed to feel like? I had heard that it’s a love that you have never felt before but where was mine? At times I would ask the midwife if I should be feeling something and she told me that it would come when I was ready.
Right, OK. So I’ll just wait then.
We got home and I continued to go through the motions. Feed, change her, hold her but when I stared at her, I felt empty. I would sit in the shower and cry. Ahhh, it’s the hormones, it will pass. But when? I would cry every night in that shower – every single night without fail. I put up a facade that I was so happy but I wasn’t. I was an empty shell that was now responsible for another human.
My husband went back to work after a week, so I was at home just going through the motions…again. I would listen to her cry and I couldn’t do anything to stop her. I had family and friends offer to help with the house but I didn’t want anyone near me. I let calls ring out, I didn’t reply to texts, I isolated myself from everyone. All along my baby needed me and I wasn’t there mentally for her. I had heard of post-natal depression but thought because I knew the signs I would be fine. I had all the signs, but to me they weren’t bad enough.
And then I caught myself looking at Willow, thinking about who would be a better mum for her. I thought, I’m pretty sure my sister-in-law would take her as her own.
What the hell was I thinking? Why was I thinking like this, did I not want to be here anymore? I was so confused.
I am lucky that my husband and I communicate so well because he could see I was off. It had been four weeks and I was not myself. I didn’t go out, I stayed in my trackies and dressing gown everyday, I don’t think I washed my hair for over 16 days and I didn’t eat. I was just living. As you do.
It wasn’t until I was sitting at home, on my bed, with Willow and I just stared at her. I grabbed her hands and looked her straight in the eyes. I needed something to switch in my brain so I could be the best mum to her, anything. I sat there for an hour, and I don’t know what happened but I burst into tears. I wasn’t upset – it was a different cry to the usual tears I cried. I sobbed.
My husband came upstairs and asked what happened, at that very moment, five weeks after Willow was born, I finally loved my baby. That love you are suppose to feel, that really intense, how-did-I-live-without-you kind of love. I felt warm and accomplished. That was my turning point. I don’t know what or how it happened but I was finally the mum she needed me to be.
Libby Trickett shares her difficulty in bonding with her newborn baby and the unexpected challenges of motherhood. Post continues after audio.
Now how did I get out of this? What did I do? I had people around me that knew the signs. I stepped away from myself and studied my actions. This wasn’t me, and it wasn’t hormones. It wasn’t normal how I was feeling and yet, I didn’t talk to anyone about it as I thought I was just ‘down’ due to change. I wish I had other mums around me that had gone through what I did so I didn’t feel alone. I had my husband but it wasn’t the same, I needed another woman to help me. I needed to talk to other past PND sufferers as I don’t think we are there enough for each other.Sometimes now I still deny I had PND because it wasn’t me. I am the kind of person to make a joke when a serious situation is happening as it’s my coping mechanism, and I guess that is why I started my blog and I make my posts funny. We need to talk to each other and reach out. Sometimes its easier to talk to someone that is not in your circle, message them. I can guarantee that no one will turn away.
You aren’t alone. It isn’t ‘just’ being sad. It is a real thing that can take over your mind and body. We mustn’t let it, we need to come together and do what we can to help each other out.