Post Natal Depression – no one told me
Dear ardent reader, this post is about depression. I haven’t glammed it up, I’m not going to make apologies but you may feel uncomfortable reading please stop at this paragraph here. If you feel that you are depressed, post natally or otherwise, please reach out. You are certainly never alone. Contact me through this blog, tweet me here, or talk to an expert here. Don’t suffer in silence, there is always someone to hold you when you’re feeling low.
Hello little one, bye bye me
You have spent nine months of your life, looking forward. Excitement flooded you with joy when you felt that first flutter. Every minute drawn out waiting for the first kick, then the first kick someone could actually feel, or see. Pregnancy is like that, waiting, waiting, anticipating. Then through labour, the pain and anticipation squeeze around your heart in an icy vise like grip, and you breathe in through the pain and primal mooing. You feel like you’re going to break in half and then…You are handed your own little human. One you grew for forty whole weeks.
You count ten perfect pink fingers, and ten tiny toe nails. Then you wait for the moment you fall in love with those grey eyes looking at you. And this is where I get envious. You look at those miniature eyelashes, pug nose and pouty lips. And you see love. Or you should see love. Do you? I don’t think I did the first time, and that’s a guilt I still carry with me to this day. It took me time and a lot of effort to be maternal. All the excitement vanished with the birth and I was left holding a human without any idea what to do with it.
Baby, you’re all that I need
Let’s face it some people make the first few weeks of new baby life look like a walk in the park. I found walking out of the house hard. No one warns you that all the colour fades a little bit from your life in the first few weeks of motherhood. You want to look and feel like Kate Middleton, and be back in your jeans, have your feeding and sleeping routine penned out even have time for a costa. I’d always been great with other people’s children so I had high hopes all would just go back to normal in a few weeks.
The reality is very different. I can’t remember the first few weeks. Not sure if it was sleep deprivation, or lack of support, but I was lost. Overwhelmed and feeling like I was clinging to a cliff edge in a force 9 gale. I couldn’t go to bed, baby might need me. Then couldn’t wake up when she really did. I felt useless. I put her down and watched her sleep berating myself that I wasn’t good enough for her. Watching her breathe, time ticking away and the house didn’t get clean. Feeling that I’d failed her before I had begun because that maternal feeling everyone told me I’d have wasn’t there. I was just lifeless. Useless.
When someone rocked up to see us, I’d paint on an I’m ok face. Too scared to let someone see I was struggling. Just because I’ve always been the strong one. I don’t struggle. Everyone comes to me for advice. There is no way I’m giving in and asking for help. She’s my baby. I grew her I can fend for myself. I can put up with the reflux and croup screaming for hours. When of course, I was there, head buried in cushions crying myself.
Am I depressed?
A few weeks after you have a baby the health visitor gives you form to fill in. It’s a checklist on how you’re doing. But it’s a list. You can lie. Plus it never really asks you how you feel when you are awake at 4am after 2 hours sleep rocking a baby to sleep who is in pain, and can’t communicate her needs to you. You’ve tried everything, you’ve read the contented baby book but YOU FAIL because it has NO answers. Everything everyone told you pre baby is a lie. The magic form doesn’t ask you either why you can’t concentrate on reading anything, or why the enjoyment has drained from your life. So you smile and give them a 5 instead of a bloody 10 (please help me I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing).
I think this brave new mother has it bang on (PODCAST).
Ten morning coffees didn’t lift the fog on my day. It felt like constantly wading through tar but with another human being strapped to my boob. My milk dried up because I wasn’t eating I had no appetite and I didn’t know where to turn. For sure the signs of depression were there with both first babies. The onset was later with Ellis. But I sought help because I knew what it was the second time around.
Living with Post Natal Depression
It’s definitely not easy. Talking helps. Especially with someone who is on the same page as you, so another new mum. Or even someone who has been through it. It affects as many as half new mothers and effects us all in different ways. Even partners can get down. Having a baby is a huge life change. Whether you be first time around, or fourth time around things have to change, and humans aren’t always equipped to deal with it.
It does get better. Babies are transient beings. They grow up far too quickly and no stage in their childhood lasts forever. Try telling yourself that, and that in a few short months you’ll catch yourself running after them as they try to escape the confines of your warm hugs!
Walk away if you have to. Leave baby in the cot. Close the door, and go somewhere quiet of ten minutes. Breathe. Chill and then return.
Be kind to you. Guilty pleasure for me was watching Jeremy Kyle in the morning. So that’s exactly how I treated myself if I hadn’t slept!
Don’t keep it all inside. Share, and don’t feel bad for asking for help. People will help, but they’re not psychic. I caved and asked, and my sister rescued me with an over nighter after 4 months of broken sleep. If you feel like you need more help than that, then talk to your GP or health visitor or anyone. You’ll be grateful you did.
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We all rock motherhood with a cuppa, conjunctivitis and Harry potter Pj’s.