TRIGGER WARNING. CONTAINS UPSETTING CONTENT
When I had my first baby it was all rainbows and butterflies! Well… almost, I’d had a traumatic 40 hour labour that ended in an emergency c-section, but, you know, all that melted away when I got that uncontrollable rush of unconditional love that everyone tells you about, my little boy was perfect, a bit squishy and gross, but perfect nonetheless! I popped him on the boob and he latched like a pro, and that pretty much set the tone for the next year… being a Mumma was easy.
Fast forward nearly 4 years and following the traumatic labour with baby number 1, I was advised to opt for an elective c-section, which I did but… my impatient little fella decided he was coming early, at 37 weeks and I ended up spending a night having mild contractions on my own in hospital before I was taken into theatre. It just all went wrong from there really. If you’ve had a section then you’ll know that it really does feel like someone’s doing the washing up in there! When they showed me my baby, I couldn’t have been less interested, I was too busy vomiting onto the theatre floor! When we got to recovery they popped him on my chest and just like his brother he latched like a pro, no problems there, but I was looking at his beautiful face, and mop of black hair and all I wanted was to put him down and go to sleep. I felt nothing. Back on the ward when all the visitors had gone, I picked him up and clearly remember feeling absolutely nothing, and our lives went downhill from there.
I tortured myself with thoughts of what people would say if they knew how I was feeling (or not feeling, might be a more appropriate way to put it) I was scared to say to my husband, mum, sisters, midwife or health visitor that I didn’t love my bubba. I thought it would get better, it didn’t. I cared for him wonderfully, but it was like he wasn’t mine, I was scared to be alone with him, he preferred Daddy because he could feel me tense up every time he cried. It was a vicious spiral and I just got more and more miserable and guilty, snappy and unreasonable. My husband knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what to do… why would he? No one warns you about this stuff, when you’re pregnant no one says, “Don’t forget, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies” No one tells husbands and partners the signs to look out for to see that their other half isn’t exactly coping or what they should do if they spot the signs. No one ever said to me that that unconditional rush of love might not come immediately… and that’s ok, that’s “normal too”. My little boy was 6 months old when my husband lost his temper when I begged him yet again not to leave the house for work and leave me with the baby, he said that there was something wrong with me and he didn’t know what to do, and that I needed to see a doctor. Which I did, that day, and was shocked to be told I had acute postnatal depression and was put on medication and saw a counsellor that week.
I really believe that telling women the truth about becoming a Mum can go a long way to stopping PND in its tracks. Had I KNOWN how common it is to feel disinterested in your baby, I may have mentioned it to someone that very first feed when it didn’t feel like I expected, like everyone told me it would feel. Had I KNOWN that sometimes, quite often in fact, these things take time then I wouldn’t have felt disgusting and guilty, I’d have asked for help. Had I KNOWN that one third of mother’s struggle to bond with their babies, I wouldn’t have felt so isolated and trapped. Had my husband and I KNOWN the signs to look out for I maybe wouldn’t have got so desperately unwell that I missed out on the joy of the first 6 months of my amazing little boy’s life.
Do a little bit of research, learn the signs to look out for, look for them in yourself, your daughters, your sisters and your friends. Talk to someone if you feel like something’s not right, chances are it’s perfectly normal, but no one has thought to tell you! Xxx
For further information on PND support please see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-nataldepression/ or call your GP straight way. Remember you are not alone.
Thank you to Heidi for sharing this incredible story, I know this cant have been easy.