Today’s guest post is from my dear friend Kerry who sent me a text every day at dusk when Addison was first born knowing it was my hardest time. I owe her much. Today Kerry is sharing her very emotional and honest journey into motherhood and I am honoured to bring it to you via The Mama Files. Kerry blogs at The Haphazard Blogger and also runs a business creating gorgeous hand crafted biscuits called Crumbs of Yum.
Thank You Kerry! xx
I ticked all the risk factor boxes. History of emotional and physical abuse – check. Estranged parent/s – check. No family support – check. IVF pregnancy – check. Teacher – check. History of sexual abuse – check. Difficult pregnancy including Hyperemesis – check. Traumatic birth – check. Really, I couldn’t expect anything but PND.
I thought I was going to be OK. The crazy thoughts three days post partum, the ones where I questioned my decision to be a mother, the ones where I thought my daughter would be better off if I just got in the car and drove off, leaving her in the safety of the hospital, they’d passed. Three weeks post partum and that had all settled down. I wasn’t crying every night at dusk, and I was starting to find my groove. Then it all came so badly unstuck. My husband got injured in a stupid workplace accident and ended up in intensive care. I got mastitis, and then I got a summons to appear in court for a workplace court case. I had my livelihood threatened and almost lost my husband in the space of 48 hours, all whilst feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, desperately needing someone to look after me, and having literally no one to turn to. That just pushed me over the edge. I was anxious. Anxious to the point of my heart racing and my hands sweating just sitting on the couch at home. I couldn’t sleep, because if I closed my eyes something else would go wrong and I couldn’t keep watch on everyone whilst I slept.
I went to the 8 week MCHN check. She gave me THE test. The one where they test if you’re a bad mother or not (or so it was in my mind). I wanted to lie, I wanted to give the textbook answers for every question and hide my distress and discomfort in this new world of motherhood, but my husband was busy peering over my shoulder and correcting my answers to every question. That led to an appointment with my GP who said “you don’t have PND, you’ve got a shitload on your plate”. I sighed with relief and prayed that would see me start to feel “normal” soon. Months passed, I didn’t feel normal. I went further into my dark, anxiety filled hole. I started counselling, it didn’t help. I was broken and I just wanted an escape.
At 7 ½ months post partum, I broke completely. No pretense, nothing but raw emotion as I went to a counselling session, thrust my daughter at the psychologist and asked her to take my Floss away before I hurt her, or hurt myself. I was at sensory overload point. My skin hurt from the anger and sadness built up in me. I had a headache that had been there for months. I couldn’t take one more instant of screaming or scratching. A referral was made for an in-patient mother baby unit.
Three days later we were admitted and stayed five weeks. A long time, but time well spent. I won’t lie, it got worse before it got better. I started medications; meds that I should have started months before, and slowly but surely the darkness lifted and a little light crept in. I laughed for the first time in what felt like forever. I finally slept, deep, refreshing sleep, the kind I hadn’t had in months. I started to see that my daughter was a source of joy, and that she was
learning and growing every day. Her actions and responses were that of a baby who was crying out for her Mumma, not one who was trying to torture her.
We came home and went from strength to strength. That’s not so say that things weren’t still hard. The wee one who’s never been all that fond of sleep, continued her wicked non sleeping ways, but with medication and some coping strategies in place, I coped with lack of sleep, and accepted what I could get.
This week, I finished the meds. It’s been a year since our hospital stay and things are so much better. I’m happy. Sure, there are the days when the (now) toddler tornado pushes every button I’ve got, but I don’t want to run for the hills screaming, and I can keep it in perspective. Never fear though, I have no rose coloured glasses, this is not a Kleenex ad, it’s just that I’ve seen what hell looks and feels like and I know I’m not there now, so I appreciate the small things. We still have days where I wonder what the hell I’ve done. I really did like my life beforehand. I could drink a hot, uninterrupted cup of coffee, I could sleep till noon, I could pack up and disappear at that drop of a hat and I could make decisions and consult no-one sure in the knowledge of my husband’s support and cooperation. Now there’s a small person to consider and I’ve had to put those freedoms on hold. There are days when that plain sucks. But I accept that’s motherhood and am no longer screaming and railing against it internally, every second of the day. I think I’m much more grounded in reality, rather than living the quagmire of depression.
I want people to know it can, and does, get better. 1 in 3 women suffer PND. That means someone you know WILL have suffered, or be currently suffering with the medical condition known as Post Natal Depression. But no-one should go through the torment I went through. There are options, and the more we, as a society, talk about them, the more socially acceptable and readily apparent they will be. If you suspect that you or someone you know has PND, get help. Start with a good GP, or a MCHN. Know that no-one should feel so disconnected from something and someone they wanted so badly. Medications DO help. They reset the chemical balance and allow nature to take its course. I honestly despised my daughter and what her arrival had done to my life and liberty. Medication and counselling showed me that I had a medical problem, which clouded my judgement and reactions to everything and everyone around me, not just her. We now have such an amazing bond. I can’t wait to get home to her at the end of the day, and still get those butterflies when thinking about just how much she grows and changes every day. All those things I feared I’d never know as a mother. Now I want to spend every minute with her, where before I wanted to avoid her. I now creep into her room and watch her sleep (when she blesses us with sleep that is), where before I prayed every minute that she wouldn’t wake and scream, and when she did wake and scream I’d boil internally with rage for her lack of consideration for my need for quiet.
Now I know what it’s like to love that person I so longed for. Now the only risk is that I might drown my daughter in kisses and cuddles.