This guest post is by the fabulous Jo from the blog Miracle Max. This is a frank and open look at post natal depression and I am honoured Jo chose to share her story today on my blog. Please leave Jo a comment below if this resonates with you & please don’t forget to head on over to her fantastic blog and check it out. Thank you.
We all have an image in our heads on what motherhood is going to be like. We see pictures in magazines and endless Instagram photos of new Mums making it look like having a new born is a breeze.
I spent 9 months dreaming of what perfection lay ahead of me once my bundle of joy arrived. It would be the most magical thing to ever happen to me, I was sure of it. I would spend hours cuddling my perfect baby, go out for coffee mornings with friends, maybe even get down the gym once or twice a week. I was going to look just like the perfect women in those magazines- and I couldn’t wait.
But in reality becoming a Mum is hands down the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me. Life as I knew it was gone forever and I was thrust into a world of dirty nappies, a screaming baby and sleepless nights. My whole life changed overnight. I thought I was prepared – mentally, emotionally, physically. But there is no way to prepare for the difference having a child makes in your life.
Some women take to motherhood like a duck to water, and some don’t. I fell into the latter category. I had a horrific 32-hour labour with a very traumatic ending where I was taken to theatre to have a forceps delivery. I was traumatised and physically drained but just a few days later I was sent home to care for this tiny human who was totally dependent on me. But I just didn’t have the energy. I’d lost a lot of blood during delivery and was very weak, barely even able to walk downstairs. Max would cry for me, his Mum, the person who had carried him safely for 9 months, but I just couldn’t help him. Instead I’d sit and watch helplessly as my Husband, Adam, would tend to him. I felt like a bystander in my own life, watching Adam do all the things I felt I should be doing.
A few weeks passed and I slowly gained my strength back. But I still couldn’t bring myself to care for Max. I’d missed out on those precious first few weeks of bonding with him and he felt like a stranger to me. I didn’t have the urge to pick him up, cuddle him or feed him and I was still leaving the main bulk of the parenting duties to Adam.
I was shutting myself away, too anxious to leave the house. I was spending hours every day crying. My hormones were all over the place and I just wanted to get in my car and drive as far away as possible and never come back.
Post Natal Depression (PND) affects 1 in every 10 women – and I soon realised I was one of them. It seems weird saying this out loud as I never had a ‘formal’ diagnosis. But with something like this, you just know. It’s the only explanation for the anxiety and inability to cope that I was experiencing.
I never visited my doctor and instead decided to tackle my depression with the help of family and friends. They were great. Adam would sit me down and try to get me to admit how I was really feeling. I found talking open and honestly really helped me to get to the bottom of why I was feeling like this. I came to realise that it wasn’t because I didn’t love Max. In fact, it was the total opposite. I loved him so much that I was scared I would let him down and fail at being his Mum.
Slowly but surely Adam would encourage me to do more for Max, but never putting any pressure on me. I started to build up my confidence. Instead of giving him a quick feed and rushing to put him down, I would sit and give him a cuddle and let him fall asleep in my arms. Day by day my confidence was growing and good days started to outweigh the bad.
Max is now 4 months old and PND is still something I am having to work hard to control, it unfortunately doesn’t go away over night. I have bad days and relapses where all I want to do is cry, but these are no longer daily. I no longer feel like I want to run away from everything. Instead I turn my frustration and sadness into determination. Max was a much wanted baby and I am determined to do my very best to give him the happy and healthy life that he deserves.