Postnatal depression

By Ottilie.

Mother. From the moment I could clutch my doll and “shushu” her, I was a mom. My younger siblings were my babies and I needed to comfort, provide, protect and love. I was born a mommy. Baby whisperer – my nickname – attracting babies and toddlers wherever I went, arms always full, hips always swaying as I comforted, provided, protected and loved. All I ever dreamed of, almost ached for was my OWN person to mother. I had the perfect pregnancy. It was planned and well thought out…I did it all.. preggy Pilates, nutrition, supplements.. I was SO ready for this! After all, I was born to do this. 36hrs of labour later, a failed epidural and emergency c-section which resulted in my bladder being sliced and major complications, our precious MOST longed for daughter was born. In agony, gutted with disappointment at my failed birth story, I looked down at my whole purpose in life, who lay before me… Screaming. The endless mind numbing screaming, which did not stop.. for four months. My own flesh and blood – but I could not comfort, I could not provide, I could not protect. Our baby had colic and reflux. That was the professional opinion. My mind kept telling me I was a useless mom. Why could I not settle my child? How could this be normal? What was wrong with me? This should all feel so natural but it feels so wrong! In the early days and weeks I convinced myself that it was gong to be fine. I had moments of panick and frustration and being sleep deprived didn’t help. I thought this was all normal. But as time passed, I could feel I was losing grip and began sliding down a steep cliff, feeling a deep sense of being trapped. Trapped in a place with no light. My mind would race with “I should be”… I should be enjoying this, I should be such a natural, I should be able to feed and care for MY own child, I should be able to calm her down, I should be better at this, I should be loving her. Why? Why can’t I do this when millions of others do and they are fine? Why doesn’t she sleep? Why doesn’t she just stop crying… the endless mind numbing crying! Why does nothing work? Why can’t anyone help me? I’m never going to make it! I’m never going to have a life! I’m never going to enjoy anything! I hate this. I’m going to do something to her! This isn’t what I thought it was going to be like. Post natal depression hit me like a wave that never stopped breaking … rolling over me like a suffocating force that never gave up. Guilt and self doubt took over. A sadness so deep and intense it felt like there was no breath left in me. I could no longer see ANY way out. I just wanted to sleep forever. My mind was exhausted more than anything else. 2 Months into the deepest darkest hole, I couldn’t spend one more second listening to my child scream while I tried in vain to comfort her. I could not find joy in anything. I was riddled with anxiety about the smallest things…I called for help. Our Paeditrician immediately realized I wasn’t fine. He made the life changing call of admitting me and my baby so that I could get rest and help. That was the beginning… of a very long and hard fight. The most life changing battle I could ever have imagined. I wasn’t sick. The colic had gone away and our baby began settling. The worst had to be over. It’s going to be okay now. I have discovered now, 16 months later- that wasn’t quite true. I got help, went on medication but the inward battle was still strong. Things were better, manageable as they say… but I had lost some valuable things along the way. My confidence as a mother was shattered. I could not face being in public with my baby IN CASE she cried. Any little unplanned situation would send me back into that black hole of anxiety, fear and hopelessness. It has been a hard battle and I know there will be many more… but my fight here with PND is done. With the right warriors beside me, being OPEN and HONEST about how I felt and UNASHAMED to feel those feelings..I see that light! Some days it’s dimmer than others…but I know it will become bright again.. there is hope. I now know I am able to comfort, provide and protect my little girl and I have the battle wounds to prove it!