baby

“When I was pregnant, I knew in the back of my mind it would get me.”

I was recently chatting to one of my great friends who has being having a rough trot. She said for the first time she felt actually present in her life, she could see the sun and feel the wind, she was no longer on autopilot just going through the motions. This is exactly how I felt when I realised I was finally relishing being a mother and raising my son, instead of resenting my new life and wanting to run away. Post natal depression and anxiety are not new phenomena’s, they have been around forever, the only difference is people are starting to talk about their experiences and it is so so important for new mothers to know they are not alone in feeling the way they do and that it is absolutely crucial to seek help and feel better.

For the first 6-8 months of my sons life, and more so the first 6-8 weeks, I had post natal depression and anxiety. I still do, it isn’t going to go away, I am just better at managing my symptoms these days. The ‘post baby blues’ hit about day 4, however unlike other new mums, mine didn’t lift for a very long time, until I had sought help.

My 'post baby blues' didn't lift for a very long time. Image: Supplied.

Every mother will experience these blues around day 3, 4 or 5, when the rollercoaster of emotions you have rode, the cloud nine feeling and all the adrenaline of your amazing new born baby come crashing down. Your milk will have just come in and you’re likely to sit on the bottom of the shower massaging your throbbing, achy boobs and just cry. This is completely normal and healthy.

What isn’t completely normal and healthy is crying, for the most part of every day, and being too afraid to leave your house in case the baby cries and someone sees you (God forbid!! Note to self - if anyone makes you feel bad about your baby crying in public, look them straight in the eye and tell them to get f*cked!). I cried and I cried and I cried some more. I hated my life, I hated my body, I hated myself. I loved my husband and my baby but I wasn’t in love with either of them.

I never wanted Charles to go anywhere because I didn’t want to be alone with Rocky. Not because I thought I would hurt him, but because I was scared of him. Charles did everything for our son at the beginning of his life. Everyone would say ‘oh he’s such a Daddy’s boy’ and ‘arent you lucky your husband is so good with him’. Yes, I was so lucky, because at that stage the only thing I really did for our child was feed him. I would try so so hard to be the perfect mother that I ended up feeling that I was the worst mother in the world. In reality I was doing a great job, but my dark mind wasn’t having a bar of it.

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"Charles did everything for our son at the beginning of his life." Image: Supplied.

I remember wanting to run away so bad, I just wanted everything to stop for a day. Just have one day to sleep properly, to eat properly and just be alone. I said to Charles, ‘if I wasn’t breastfeeding I would be gone, I can’t do this anymore’. My poor husband. I suppose the saving grace in that is I had enough insight to realise I couldn’t just leave my breastfed baby, he needed me to survive. I had panic attacks every time we went anywhere. I couldn’t figure out why or what triggered them but the thought of having to see people and smile and socialise while inside I was drowning petrified me. Every person who has found out I have PND has said, ‘Oh my god I would never have guessed that’. Women get extremely good at hiding their emotions and keeping up appearances to those outside of their inner circle, and even those close to them. I knew the right things to say, I knew to smile and nod and when all else fails I always fake it ‘til I make it. Even my GP had no idea until I walked in and told her straight out. She had seen me quite a few times for various things, but I kept telling myself I was fine and I didn’t need to involve anyone, so on went the charade.

When I was pregnant I was so terrified of PND, I knew in the back of my mind it would get me. I already had very bad anxiety, was a complete control freak and had to be perfect at everything, all of which cannot coexist with a newborn baby. I did everything I could to prevent it, I read everything I could get my hands on, I made sure I was prepared for every possibility, I even had my placenta encapsulated and ate it, in the hope I could ward off the black dog. I still developed PND.

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I struggled through each and every day, feeding, changing, and holding my baby, resenting being stuck on the couch with him. I look back now and regret every minute of it. I wish I could go back and relive those moments that I will never get again with my first born. I wish I could hold his tiny 3 week old body, listening to his newborn groans and snorts, watch Netflix and feel no guilt or resentment. But I know I can't, and so I have to accept it and appreciate that I now know enough to hopefully enjoy my next newborn more than I did my darling boy.

"I know that next time around I will be better and stronger." Image: Supplied.

This isn’t to say our entire experience was horrible. There were still days where I looked at him and couldn’t believe how amazing he was, or that we had made him. There were days where he napped perfectly and I felt like a new woman, and my husband came home to a smiling wife instead of a basket case bawling her eyes out on the couch.

I know that next time around I will be better and stronger, I will be more well adjusted to the sleep deprivation and the initial pain of breastfeeding. I will know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel when their little personality starts to shine through and you love them that much that you just want to eat them!

I will sleep when my baby sleeps (may be hard with a toddler as well!), I will practice my guided meditations, I will eat properly and take care of myself, I will take time out for myself, even if that’s only a 15 minute hot shower, I will take my medication and I will bloody well talk about how I am feeling!! My GP, MCHN and psychologist will all be onto me and looking for the signs if I do fall again, at which stage I will fight through, just like I did the first time for my beautiful boy, because in his eyes I am the perfect mother, no matter what my mind tries to trick me into thinking.

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