I am not writing this for sympathy, but more to talk about an issue that affects so many mothers around the world. Mothers who feel like they should be ashamed, and not talk about it, or what’s going on.
While pregnant with my daughter I was terrified. I had struggled (or so I thought), so much with my son just 3 years earlier. He wasn’t at all an easy baby. He didn’t feed or sleep well, and I had stupidly decided to start a business early on in my pregnancy. (I know right! What the hell was I thinking?!? I naively thought that I would be bored at home with a baby ). So while I was pregnant with my daughter all these fears of how much I struggled came flooding back. I remembered how hard I found it with him (who was still a handful by the way), and now I would have a new baby to deal with, as well as my daily challenges with him too! I think the thing that made me most uncomfortable, was the way that people treated me, as this was my second baby. Both the doctors, midwives, and seemingly everyone else, just assumed I knew what I was doing, because I had done it all before. As my pregnancy progressed, my anxiety got worse and worse. Typically, my way of dealing with stress was to clean and aim for perfection, so that’s what I did. I buried my head in the sand and just ignored all those feelings that were bubbling up inside.
Then came the time to have my daughter. Labour was worse than I had remembered. I think that was because I had always told everyone I had a great labour with my son. I fully believed that, and it really probably was, but when labour started for my daughter, my confidence came crashing down to earth hard! My labour progressed very quickly, and it wasn’t long before I was thinking there was no way I could do this... which then led to panic. You see it was very easy to panic when I already had all that anxiety sitting just under the surface. Luckily I had an amazing midwife who helped me to breathe, and remain focussed on the task at hand. Luckily for me my labour was fast, and it was all over relatively quickly after that time.
Then came the afterbirth high... I was a warrior! A goddess! I could do anything and achieve anything!Unfortunately though, that high didn’t last long, with reality setting back in almost as quickly as the high had. I had only been asleep for about 40 minutes when my daughter woke. I honestly had no idea what to do. She was fed, she was wrapped and her nappy was clean. I was all out of ideas, and literally called the midwife in such a panic as I had no idea what I was doing! All of that anxiety and stress that I had buried deep, was starting to rise back up.
That was pretty much how things progressed for us in her first few weeks. I was drowning and I just didn’t stop to let myself think about it. If anyone asked how I was doing I would tell them it was a breeze. Im honesty, she was actually a very easy baby. Compared to all the struggles I had gone through with my son, I should have been taking it all in my stride... but I wasn’t. I constantly felt overwhelmed. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough. I had cut myself off from my hubby because I couldn’t let him know how much I was failing (in my mind I was failing miserably at being a mother and I was ashamed). As the months went by I kept telling myself I would feel better once we hit particular milestones, or I would feel better once I accomplished specific tasks... but it never worked. I just sank further and further into my depression. I didn’t know I was depressed at the time, I just thought I was a useless mother.
Then one day I had a fight with my husband. A stupid fight. It wasn’t at all over anything important, but resulted in a panic attack. I had never had a panic attack before. I couldn’t breathe! I felt a tremendous weight on my chest, as if someone were laying there. Everything began going dark. I was more terrified in that moment then I think I have ever been in my life. I thought I was going to die. Eventually my symptoms eased. I calmed down and managed to go to sleep (again refusing to talk to my hubby about it, even though he had just witnessed the whole thing). Then, in my typical way of dealing with things, the next day I got up and pretended that nothing had happened. I refused to consider that there could be anything wrong with me. Hubby suggested I see a doctor and I was horrified at the idea! I didn’t need to see a doctor just because I was a lousy mum! It was only when I went out to do something alone (while hubby had the kids), that I realised there was something really wrong. I was driving in my car, and found myself thinking in that moment, that if I just had a car accident my family would all be better off without me. They could move on with their lives. Hubby could find someone new, who would do a better job at raising our children than I could, as they deserved so much better than me. It got to the point where I was nearlywishing on the cars that approached me on intersections to keep driving through. Luckily I was able to see that these thoughts weren’t right and I needed to do something about it.
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