The following story is from a reader who wishes to stay anonymous.
I knew almost instantly that something was wrong.
My son was delivered quite early after I’d developed pre-eclampsia. It had been a really difficult pregnancy – I’d been sick, had little support and had been through more than my fair share of work-related turmoil. When I was told at 35 weeks that I’d be delivering via emergency C-section I wasn’t even surprised – I’d felt ‘wrong’ the whole time.
Like I hadn’t read my lines
He was quickly transferred to the special care unit at the hospital where he was placed into an isolate for approximately ten days. I didn’t get to actually touch him until about day five.
It was so different from what I’d thought it would be like. I felt so removed – like I hadn’t even really had a baby, like he wasn’t mine. Congratulations from friends and family seemed incredibly hollow. I felt like they could tell that I wasn’t really a mother. I felt like there was something wrong with me, under the skin. A rottenness that I had to hide.
Isolation at home
My husband quickly went back to work following the birth and, once my son was at home, it was me and him. All day, every day, with little to no contact with the outside world. I felt like the walls closed in around me and that I’d completely lost my sense of self. I felt angry and couldn’t form a connection with my baby – he just wanted more and more from me and I felt like a tapped well. I didn’t have anything to give him.
Breastfeeding was a struggle. He wasn’t gaining weight. There seemed to be issues with my supply and with his latch. I worked with lactation consultants and got endless advice from everyone that seemed to be, ‘Just stick with it! Keep trying!”. I’d cry and the baby would cry and, eventually, we moved to formula at my husband’s suggestion. It fixed the issue but I felt like this was yet more evidence of something very wrong with me. It was like it was further proof that I shouldn’t be a mother.
Knowing what I know now about postnatal depression, I know that I should have spoken up about how I was feeling. That these feelings are surprisingly common.
Identifying and treating postnatal depression
You need to be honest about how you’re feeling. Seeing a doctor is the best advice I can give – check in with someone about what’s actually going on, not the glossy version of events you’re telling everyone else.
Don’t try to take it all on. Be honest about your capacity for dealing with things and ask for help.
Postnatal depression serves to isolate you and make you feel terrible about yourself. Don’t let it win – seek help.
If you would like to share your story (pregnancy, parenting, etc) please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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