More than 1000 Australia parents are diagnosed with post natal depression every week.
As this is Post and Ante Natal Depression Awareness Week, we’re bringing you the stories of two people who have been dramatically affected by post natal depression.
The first is from Lisa – she suffered from depression after the birth of her twin daughters. Tomorrow we’ll bring you Matt’s story. Matt is Lisa’s husband and he writes with searing honesty about his experience of living with Lisa during her difficult ordeal.
This is Lisa’s story:
From the moment I realised I was pregnant, I was overcome with feelings of loss and grief. I was no longer an autonomous individual. This was the beginning of a journey that took me to a place of additional and unimaginable loss – loss of control.
I was a self-confessed control freak, symptomatic of my lack of self-confidence. I never took on anything more than I knew I’d have the best chance of being able to cope with so that everything I did do was done extremely well. So to the outside world and everyone around me, I appeared completely confident and capable not at all someone who ever needed help.
The first real test of my attitude to having children was when my husband and I decided in July that we would stop trying to avoid pregnancy and if nothing had happened by the end of the year we would start actively trying to conceive, giving us plenty of time to get used to the idea again of having children.
Less than one month later I was pregnant. At a very early ultrasound scan it was found that I was 7 weeks pregnant – with twins. I was absolutely horrified but simultaneously overcome with guilt that the ease with which I, someone who was so ambivalent about having children, could get pregnant and with twins!
There were people, like my sister- in-law who’d been trying IVF unsuccessfully for years, who were desperate for children who couldn’t fall pregnant and here I was doubly pregnant after one encounter with my husband! I felt awful.
A feature of my need to maintain some control was my extreme fear of the pain of childbirth, so I attended hypnobirthing classes and practised the exercises diligently. When I was handed a slip of paper at 35 weeks gestation informing me of the date of my planned C-section at 37 weeks, 5 days due to the presenting twin remaining in breech position, I felt absolutely devastated – ‘failure’ for not having the natural birth I had wanted.
Two hours after birth, twin 2, Lulu, latched onto my breast perfectly and had a lovely feed.
Twin 1, Nina, was smaller and had trouble latching on. The first or second night in hospital I was unable to settle Nina and felt horrified and ashamed when the midwife informed me that she must be really hungry because she hadn’t been fed for a long time.
I’d forgotten to feed one of my babies! – Failure. Again.