I wanted a baby since I was 21yrs old. My husband and I married when I was just 21 and he was 27. But we were in a new country with no family and only a few friends. Starting new jobs and I was studying to become a Nurse and working as a Nursing Assistant at the same time.
It wasn’t until I was 26, after having IVF, that we finally welcomed our son into this world. The well wishes came in from across the other end of the world and the few friends we had visited often in the early days. But I wasn’t prepared for the way my life would change.
You see, I had a plan of how being a parent was going to be. I would breastfeed on demand, provide my child with the best that we could afford and hold him day and night. I was going to have a natural birth and try to do it medication free. We had our bags packed with all the necessary (and a lot of unnecessary) things. We had our 39 week check with our obs. Hubby even managed to get the morning off his work for it! News was not good. Cooper had to be born NOW!!! No waiting!!!
Before I knew it, I was on the table, couldn’t feel my legs, preparing to be cut open. I hadn’t planned a C-section but as long as my child was healthy, I could cope with that. After a shaky start, Cooper came good. But at 3 days old, when we were meant to be discharged from hospital, Cooper had surgery on his eye. He was put into the neonatal unit where he stayed for another 7 days. Looking back now, there were alarm bells starting to ring then.
We were finally allowed home when Cooper was 11 days old. Home we went with a full arsenal of feeding apparatus and formula. My milk still hadn’t come in. What kind of Mum was I? I couldn’t even feed my baby!!! Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this motherhood business. I tried and tried. I cried and cried.
Cooper cried A LOT. I was told by many people that this was normal for newborns. But it wasn’t until my husband noticed Cooper gulping and screaming that we had Cooper diagnosed with severe silent reflux AND, Cooper didn’t sleep. He would sleep for 30mins every hour and a half, 24 hrs a day. I was surviving (or slowly dying) on 20mins here and there. I tried everything!!! I was reassured by many health professionals that things would settle down when the reflux did. He was 6 months old now.
A combination of all these factors was all too much. Those fleeting thoughts of “what have I done?” became lingering thoughts. The fanaticising of how much better my life would be without a baby was becoming more and more appealing. I would look at him with what should have been love and adoration and all I felt was regret and anger. I hated him. Everything. He was cute, that was it!
I hated myself. I hated my husband for going to work every day. And I hated how I hid it so well. Family would call and I would pretend that I was in love. That’s what’s expected, you know, a little whinge about being tired and busy but loving it none the less. It’s what they needed to hear. They couldn’t be here. What was the use in telling them what was really going on? But what I wanted to scream was “I HATE HIM. TAKE HIM AWAY!”
I was one of the lucky ones that with the support of a very patient and loving husband, and a sleep technique that I finally mastered for Cooper, things were on the up. There were more days of love and adoration than hatred and regret and within that LONG first 8 months of his life, I finally began to feel like I could love him.
In hindsight, I should have told my friends that I wasn’t OK. I should have told my family that I wasn’t coping. I should have been honest with my child health nurse when she was asking me the “PND” questions. I should have asked for help. I wouldn’t have felt so alone. I wouldn’t have been judged.
4.5yrs later, we welcomed Kate into the world. This time, I let everyone know that I had PND again and although it was still a very difficult thing to go through, I had the support of everyone around me.
The more we speak up, the more accepted it is and the more likely other Mums are to speak up!
In a society where we are expected to be a perfect Mum and have our shit together, let’s change what the word perfect means. Speak up. Say it how it is! You might be very surprised at the response!