28 Jan Post Natal Depression – Oh Baby
Our growing family. The shift into post natal depression that followed….
When we decided to start a family of our own, we knew it would change things. We knew having a baby would be intense and sometimes challenging. Though, as a married couple it was our dream. We would make plans of having the ‘2.5 kids’ and a house we could live in and comfortably afford – with or without the white picket fence. I hadn’t really thought I’d be effected by post natal depression. After all, we both wanted this baby so very much. We were in for an interesting ride….
Falling pregnant was the first hurdle.Though this struggle is possibly a story for another time…
In the lead up to our babies arrival we purchased all the nursery items we would need, we painted a lovely green feature wall in babies room. We didn’t find out if we were having a boy or a girl, so the gender neutral colour worked.
The pregnancy was pretty textbook. We took ante natal education classes and we enjoyed the weeks prior to baby coming just soaking up our couple time. We felt well prepared. Well educated. We were ready. Or so we thought….
Our little girl surprised us by making her grand entrance 3 weeks early.
When she arrived into the world, of course we were instantly in love. She completed us. Visitors came and went, showering us with gifts of congratulations.
Then my husband returned to work. Each day that passed mimicked the day before it. Feeling utterly exhausted, accomplishing next to nothing of the ordinary everyday house duties. Feeling disconnected from work as everyone had somehow just continued on their merry way, forgetting that I existed. Why is that? Silly really, knowing what we do now about postnatal mental health, it’s so important to keep the employees who are on maternity leave involved, so at least they feel part of ‘something’. My sense of self was disappearing.
Who was I? My daughters mother? What about me? Do I still exist as a person in my own right? My identity seemed to be slipping away with each passing day..
The saving grace, and lucky for me, was the support my mother provided by moving in for three months with us. Three months!! It’s a fog that I can’t remember much about, just pieces of the puzzle, where only some of the pieces actually fit together.
I have to admit I actually felt somewhat annoyed with our baby – don’t get me wrong, I loved her more than anything. Though I resented her. I felt annoyed that I had to be organised about where and when I would go places. I used to have control, or at least I felt as though I did.. It was no longer just an easy decision to grab my car keys and drive over to a friends place for an impromptu catch up. I resented having to plan, to have to pack so much for a day out. I resented that my baby had caused me to miss out on so much quality sleep! Yes, we all know new parents are sleep deprived when they arrive home and in the weeks following the arrival of the baby……. BUT…. this was like nothing I’d ever expected. Night after night, broken sleep with rare opportunities to get blocks of quality sleep ie more than 2 hours. It took its toll. Mentally and physically. As one day poured into the next my ability to process the most basic of everyday tasks was impaired. When was it going to end? Then realising, parenting is forever. Post natal depression was all consuming. Of course the sleepless nights and total dependence morphs into your toddler and then young child, and now with a happy and healthy seven year old, I can reflect on that time. I see it for what it was. A stage. One of many.
For me, more than one child doesn’t seem to be a realistic option. I don’t think I could ‘go there ‘ again. And you know what? I’m not going to feel guilty about that. Just because society might have certain expectations or just because my body can do it, just because financially we can afford to have another baby, doesn’t mean we should. We both knew giving our daughter a sibling wasn’t a good enough reason to have another baby.
It took me well over a year to get to the point where I felt comfortable talking about my experience with post natal depression. Initially I felt ashamed of my feelings. Why couldn’t I just put on my active wear, slap on a smile and tell everyone how peachy things were? I was embarrassed that I needed so much help. I was anxious about how others might perceive me. Negative self talk dominated my thinking.
This is actually what drew me to infant massage. Purely by accident I was asked to attend an infant massage program. The facilitator of the course was a close friend and colleague of my mums. Mum encouraged me to go. I welcomed the opportunity to get out of the house and break the ground hog day cycle. To my surprise, other new parents seemed to be facing similar challenges as I had. I was able to relate, connect and establish lasting relationships with those who attended the course over the next few weeks.
It was perfect. Having my own personal support crew, who knew what it was like. Who were experiencing the hormone changes, and newborn challenges. They too had experienced the shift in family dynamic that saw priorities change.
I felt a strong need to work in a space where I could support new families. I have done this by talking openly about my personal journey, taking comfort that hearing my story might normalise the transition to parenting for local parents. My struggle with post natal depression has inspired me and I have such passion for this work.
Fast forward seven years and I sit on our deck with our amazing seven year old and a 10 week old puppy…..(the next best thing to a sibling )
Did anyone ever tell you that puppies are a little bit like babies? They like to be with you all the time. They cry when they’re left alone, they need to be potty trained and they like to make a mess of their food. What was I thinking?
This journey has been challenging, uplifting, gruelling, intense and one I wouldn’t change for anything. I’m a great mum. I was then, and I am now. It’s just I’ve grown to realise that doing your best is always enough.
If you’re struggling with post natal depression or anxiety, please reach out for support https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support
Our program is a great way to feel empowered and connect, join here https://www.babylovetas.com.au/product/baby-massage-class-4-sessions/