Post-natal depression. Baby blues. Words that I never thought would play a role in my life. Words that I didn’t really understand. Words that I couldn’t understand as I couldn’t comprehend how you could possibly feel low after having a baby.
Words that ended up being discussed when I became a new mother.
Words that I still now, nearly 8 months later, feel guilty about.
Words that need more discussion, less taboo, they need to be branded with more normality.
I had a bad bout of the baby blues, I wasn’t diagnosed with PND but I was advised to see a GP. I felt too embarrassed, I felt that if I admitted to a doctor how I felt they would think I wasn’t capable, that I was failing.
I endured a 43 hour labour. My mind was tired and my body was exhausted. I had lost two pints of blood and I felt broken.
When my beautiful boy arrived into the world, my rainbow didn’t appear. My love, my strength, my amazement, awe and need to protect didn’t appear. Where was my joy, where was my rush, why hadn’t my mind forgotten what had just happened. In the text books it said I would forget as soon as I held my baby. Damn it, didn’t I deserve my rainbow?!
For 9 months I carried you. For 9 months I watched you grow, I saw you kick, I felt you wiggle, I loved you. I loved you so much. I was your protector.
When you came into this world you needed a tiger, you needed a fierce protector to look after you from the big wide world, you needed 24 hour care, love, attention. You needed something I felt I wasn’t capable to give.
I want you to know that I am sorry. I am sorry for those few weeks when I couldn’t mentally give you all you may have needed. You were never neglected, In my blurred state I rolled with the motions, you were fed, you were cleaned, you were cradled.
I nursed you even though my nipples were cracked and my milk took a week to come in, I nursed you and I held you, I looked at you through tears, longing to feel something. Longing to find that bond, that love, that rainbow.
I wanted to give you all of me, I wanted to, please believe me, but I shut down, I had no idea what I was doing. It was a huge responsibility that had just been given to me, and what if I made the wrong choices?
We were strangers and I soon learned that we needed to grow together, to strengthen our love, to make that bond. We had to learn. You had, had me wrapped around you for nine months and the world was a scary place for you right now, and for me, well it was scary too. My life had just been turned upside down, in a wonderful but terrifying way.
I had been given one of the most precious gifts and I was so scared of doing wrong, that it drove a greater wedge between us.
In your innocence and your beauty, you had no idea that you had a mother who was shutting down. I hated myself for how I felt.
In the mist of it all, your daddy began to struggle as well. We didn’t sign up for this, to feel so low I mean, if only I had been stronger in those weeks then he would have been too.
I woke up in sweats. If I managed to sleep for a couple of hours during the day, I would wake up in complete panic feeling unbelievably anxious and almost frightened.
You were my tiny, perfect, eye gazing, beautiful, auburn baby, how could I feel frightened of that?
I was anxious that the blues weren’t going to go away, that we would resent each other, that I would never be your cuddles, your giggles, your laughter.
I talked. I talked and I talked, to anybody that was willing to listen. I needed people to know what I went through to bring you into the world, I needed people to know how hard I found it, because every time I told somebody, every time somebody listened it got a little easier.
I started to be really honest with people I knew I could trust about how I felt, and it turns out in a time when I felt so alone, at a time when I felt like an undeserving, failing mother, at a time when I felt that I was stuck in a black hole, that actually I wasn’t alone. It turns out a lot of people suffer. It’s turns out, a lot of people didn’t get their rainbow.
You started to grow, really fast. You started to develop your facial expressions, your smile. Wow your smile. It was the most wonderful smile that my eyes had ever seen. You began to laugh, you began to enjoy bath times. We started to learn about each other, we began to learn and develop together.
The crying stopped. The sweats, the anxieties, they slowly began to fade.
My rainbow appeared.
My heart is now full of a love which is beautifully unexplainable. I feel it is impossible for it to grow anymore, yet somehow everyday it manages to fit every new skill and new laugh in there.
You are amazing, you are wonderful. I am so proud that you are my son and I love you with every strand of hair on my head, with every ounce of me.
You are incredible and I’m so happy that you chose me.
A million kisses sealed the deal.
A few months after having Archie I had a counselling session called ‘birth after thoughts’ at the hospital to discuss what happened at the birth and why it happened. I discussed how I had felt the few weeks after having Archie and was assured that it was completely normal.
I’m sharing my experience as I want you to know, that if you feel this way you are not alone. Plenty of people suffer with the baby blues or post-natal depression and it does not make you a bad mother. It makes you human. We are very good at covering up our feelings, but there is no shame in feeling shattered, worn out and totally lost. It is ok to admit that you are struggling. Remember you are only human, you are not perfect and neither is the mum next door.
Smile at a mum or a dad when walking down the street because it might just make their day. It does with me, especially if I’ve had a particularly difficult night, it reminds me that we are all in the path of parenthood together and that there will be millions of other people out there trying to prize their eyes open with matchsticks!
Remember you did something amazing. This is your journey, your story and this is just one chapter.
Be kind to yourself.