Robyn de Beer suffered with Postnatal Depression (PND) after the birth of her first child in 2006. This is her story as told to The Motherish.
I’ve got three children. My oldest is nine and then I’ve got a six-year-old and a three-year-old. I had bad postnatal depression with my first – with my nine-year-old son.
I didn’t really know what postnatal depression was to be honest. I had a perfectly normal pregnancy, everything was fine. I was excited about him coming along. He came a month early, so it was a little bit unexpected. My mum was out of the country on holiday, so she wasn’t there. I couldn’t get a hold of anybody except my husband.
Then my son got stuck. The cord was around his neck. I don’t know if that situation during birth led to my postnatal depression, I have no idea. I didn’t get that feeling of intense love that everyone says you have when your baby is born either. Everyone was like, “Oh it was love at first sight.” I didn’t get that at all, I just remember being exhausted, tired and confused.
I also had a terrible time breastfeeding him. I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t seem to feed him enough and he was feeding 24/7. I was so terrified to give him formula at this point because I just thought that was the worst thing you could do as a mother.
Ultimately, I just became more and more stressed and I felt like he didn’t love me. He’d be screaming and screaming and screaming and I’d be trying to soothe him and... nothing. My husband would walk in the room and pick him up and it’d be fine. It ended up getting to the point where he’d be crying and I’d be like, "Well you go get him, he doesn’t want me anyway." I started backing away from my role as a mother and that made it all even more difficult.
All my mothers' group friends seemed to be doing perfectly fine, so I put on this pretense that everything was going fine. But every time we went out for coffee, I perceived that all their babies were sitting nicely and mine was just screaming. They were all coping and I couldn't even get mine to sit through a coffee date for five minutes.
Over time I spiralled and I almost went a bit crazy. Parts of it are just big blanks that I don’t even remember. I wouldn’t leave the house, I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to get dressed in the mornings and I didn’t want anything to do with my son. It was awful.