Today I was shown up someone much younger than me. We decided to blog together but she has shown so much more courage than me, being honest and open about her life and challenges. She is an inspiration in her approach to life and her struggles, and an amazing writer – I usually cry after reading her writing. Both of us have had a tough time lately and we are both working to change and heal ourselves.
So today thanks to her inspiration o I want to share my struggle with postnatal depression. Having each one of my children has been hard – all have been c-sections while I have been desperate for a natural birth – despairing at the comments of others who claimed to just ‘be in the zone’ or ‘it was beautiful’ or ‘so empowering’. Each birth has brought with it the sense of failure and disappointment and not being able to have a baby properly – at not being a real mother or good enough. Noah’s birth was tinted by the disappointment that he was a boy. This again resurfaced when I was pregnant with Finn (we found out at 18 weeks we were expecting our third boy despite trying ‘everything’ for a girl’). Some how my all my dreams and plans had always included being a parent to a girl ( there seems to be something in the air where we live around 75% of babies are boys).
My entire pregnancy with Finn was a struggle – nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, swelling, nightmare and sadness. The plan was for this to end when Finn was born and for two months it did, I felt like I could cope and could deal with the demands of parenting. Then things started to chip away and crumble – my husband went away for work, I hurt my back, I had to have a breast biopsy – and I became sad. Unfortunately the sadness grew as did the down times, the grumpiness, the stress, the lack of motivation/energy and exhaustion despite Finn being a easy, content and happy baby.
At some point I realised I had postnatal depression (PND) – words can’t describe what it has been like for me. PND is different for everyone both in how it affects them and how they deal with it. For me it was a loss of the will to carry on, to be a parent, to keep going and overall to live. On the whole I am the master of putting on a front and not letting my internal struggles show- on the outside I seemed fine on the inside I doubted everything. Every comment on having three boys hurt like someone smacking in my face again, the lady who laughed at me just made me angry. Every comment about how ‘you have your hands full’ made me doubt myself and believe I wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t keep going and that life was too hard. I felt guilty for everything and felt that I didn’t deserve anything I had and that Finn deserved a better mother, and that no one wanted Finn or me. Overwhelmed became my word and became me.
Being a stubborn I choose to try everything natural to try and beat the PND. Some things helped – there were truely good weeks and there were ok weeks but the bad weeks and the negative thoughts, the sadness and the black clouds on my life kept on coming. With the support of my amazing husband, I finally decided to try medication. The turning point for me was seeing how much I was affecting the boys especially Max.
I am lucky and the medication is helping – I feel more like me, like I am getting my life back and realising that I can keep going. There is still the sad times, the low self-esteem and feelings of grief when I see a baby girl but things are definitely getting better. I hope that sharing this encourages others to share their PND journeys, and encourages you to think before you make that comment like ‘three boys are my worst nightmare.”