Not long now…the level of anticipation and excitement of finally meeting our new little bundle was far exceeding any expectations of how I thought I would feel! The nursery was ready, my hospital bag was packed and I was longing for a sign from my stretched tummy to tell me…This is it, it’s time!
When the day did arrive, it passed in what I can only describe as a painful blur. My labour was extremely quick (4hrs to be exact) but incredibly painful and intense. Unfortunately, due to the speed at which my daughter entered the world, I needed immediate surgery as I had torn quite significantly.
After surgery, I was taken to my private room where Isabella was laid sleeping next to my bed. It was a little after 2 am and my husband was being asked to leave and to return the next day. As the door gently closed behind him, I remember feeling incredibly worried about being left in charge of my tiny little human. “What if she cried? What if her nappy needed changing?”
I felt totally alone and scared.
Isabella slept for the rest of the night, I, on the other hand, laid awake staring in disbelief at my daughter, she was actually next to me! No longer in my tummy but laid right next to my bed!
Due to not knowing what the hell I was meant to be doing, I rang my buzzer to ask the simple question of “when should I feed her?” A grumpy looking midwife walked in and barked my answer back at me! “Feed on demand!” That was it!!
Isabella and I were discharged shortly after lunchtime…I remember looking down at her in her carry seat and saying, “it’s just us now!”
The following few weeks were a hive of activity; visits from family and friends, deliveries, night feeds, and trying naively to get my daughter into some form of routine at 3 weeks old! That was never going to happen!
How was I doing?
Isabella was quite unsettled and I couldn’t work out why…we were doing everything we had been told to do? Parenthood doesn’t come with a guide book and I learned that with my son. I would do what I thought was right…he’s still with us to tell the tale, so I must be ok at parenting! 😊
Now I know to feel exhausted goes with the territory when you’re a new mum but my mood was plummeting into a negative space and my resentment towards Isabella grew each day. I felt guilty for having these feelings yet I couldn’t do anything to stop them. I longed for night time so I could switch my brain off, even if only for a couple of hours!
With Christmas fast approaching, my idyllic Christmas vision as a new family was being submerged by an angry black cloud. A few people had said it was just the baby blues and it would pass but I wasn’t convinced.
Isabella was slowly losing weight, a friend suggested I try expressing some milk to see how much I was actually producing. I say for an hour and managed to express a measly 2oz…No wonder she was crying so much!
She was bloody hungry and I as a new mum was now feeling like a total failure!
Later that afternoon, my husband left the house and returned armed with enough baby formula and equipment to start his own Mothercare store! Everything HE needed to be able to feed our daughter. I’ve no doubt he was only trying to help but this non-discussed-cause of action and the fact Isabella was now laid flat on her back, fast asleep with a full tummy made me feel angry for not being able to feed her myself. Failure was setting in!
The floodgates opening was a regular occurrence in my life right now, my desire to get up, be a mum and enjoy watching my daughter’s developments had faded and I didn’t know how to get them back.
The Day I took action…or rather my mum did!
As a result of me not coping, my parents suggested I go back to their house in the North East to try and make things easier for me. My husband was now back at work and I hated being alone so it seemed like the best thing to do.
Christmas Day was upon us and I wanted the day to be over as soon as I opened my eyes. I struggled to get dressed and being consumed with feelings of anxiousness I headed out for a brisk walk to help clear my head.
The anxiety didn’t leave me for a second that day, I returned from my walk, headed straight for my room, and returned to the fetal position on my bed. I didn’t want to face the day. I didn’t want to sit around the table with a false smile on my face pretending to give a shit about what was in my cracker! I put my pajamas back on and ate beans on toast for my lunch.
When my parents returned from my Aunties later that day, my mum came to see me in my room, she sat on the bed, gave me a hug and asked me how I was feeling?
With tears rolling down my face I sobbed the words, “I feel like I want to go to sleep and never wake up!” Mum then asked me if someone was to take Isabella away would I be bothered? Out of nowhere, I was submerged with a feeling of immense protection for my daughter!! “Yes, of course, I would! She is mine and I need to care and protect her!”
That was the day I knew it wasn’t just the baby blues…I had Postnatal Depression and I had to fight it…I owed it to my daughter!
My doctor prescribed me with antidepressants and so my journey to recovery began. Even after a few short days, my mood was brighter and I felt like the old me was re-emerging. I wanted to get up and wash my hair, head out for fresh air, and spend time with Isabella.
As each week passed, I got stronger and stronger and finally, I was loving being a mum and truly adored Isabella. Thirteen years on where am I now? I have an amazing bond with both of my children. Isabella is growing up to be a remarkable young lady and she makes me proud every day!
I still believe that PND isn’t spoken about enough, it shouldn’t be a taboo subject. It’s an illness and isn’t something to be ashamed of. I hope this blog brings comfort to someone who may be struggling right now. You will get through this!
One of the things that helped me was getting outdoors and I still to this day believe that getting outside heals you inside! Fresh air and exercise are great for your mental wellbeing.
Lots of Love
Thank you so much, Victoria for sharing your personal story with our mums.
Victoria created the brand GOOD NATURE - a fashion brand certified organic and recycled that empowers mums to talk more.
The company donates a % of their sales to PANDAS. A Charity that helps women suffering from Postnatal depression.
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