I had planned on doing a book review, but for the day that’s in it and I’ve always planned on writing this post at some point, let me write it and see how it goes. I’m also writing it as this could be you, you may relate and you’ll find you’re not alone.
I like to think of myself as generally a happy person, of course it’s not 100% of the time but enough for me not to consider depression. Roll on August 2103, one month post baby.
When the Small Man was born, I had my Hubbalump and my Ma with me. Hubby had taken a week’s paternity leave. Mammy had come over from Ireland for this momentous occasion and I had her with me for a glorious 3wks. I also had my sister up for a few days. They left, and my bestie came over from Ireland for 10 days, I think. I was surrounded by people constantly, with the drop in visitors too. Then they left and the drop-ins had fizzled out.
Then I was alone.
Well, not alone alone. I had a spanking new baby and Hubby wasn’t put off enough by the whole spectacle to leave me, but otherwise, I was alone. Hubby, obviously, still had to go to work, so myself and the Sprogladite were on our own. My Ma would text me nearly every day, as did my sister and Ash, but a text was not the same as a physical being. I have friends here, of course, but my friends here tend to be a lot older than me (I blame this on the fact i used to work in a pub…with love of course 🙂 ) and they’re done with babies, their kids are all grown up. They work long hours and then have long journeys home, to their own families. My friends my own age…well I left them in Ireland and the commute to visit regularly would be a bit much. The people I thought, would definitely be there, physically and emotionally, who unequivocally said they would be there, like I had always been for them, weren’t.
I felt let down, lost, confused, excluded and alone.
I felt sad for my little boy, like he didn’t matter enough.
Our mornings started early..ish and they were kinda set. I’d be up in time to watch Lorraine with the first feed, Small Man would go back to sleep, Hubby would ring, I’d wash bottles, have brekkie, tidy up a bit, then scroll through FB to see what my friends were up too, this was my new lifeline to conversation. This Morning would start. Small Man would wake, the cycle would start again only with lotsa cuddling and talking to a little man who can’t yet reply. I wasn’t a total hermit, we did go out for walks and to the shops etc, but mostly it would be just me & him. I would crack sometimes and my need for company would take to those who I felt forgot me, and I would be happy and I would be happy for my boy, ‘cos ultimately the love was there. It just seemed that if they couldn’t see us, we didn’t matter. I remember once the Small Man had been a bit ill, and for 14 days, nobody checked in on us, by any means.
I smiled though, because I was happy, delighted in fact with the new man in my life. I smiled because, generally, I am a smiler and I felt like that is what is expected of me, jayzus, shur I expected it of myself! I smiled because isn’t that what people expect when you have a new baby?! Secretly though I cried, I cried alot. When Hubby came home to find me crying, I’d tell him, I’d just had a baby, I was allowed to cry for no reason. I couldn’t tell him, that when the baby was asleep I’d spend a lot of the time crying, or that I’d get dressed just before he came home. I couldn’t tell him that I felt like that narrow piece of wall, dividing our bedroom and sitting room, seemed like a really good place to bang my head ’til it bled. I couldn’t worry him like that. It would be selfish.
I thought I was going mad. This was not me. This was irrational. There is no way I…ME…I could be depressed. I googled postnatal depression. Everything fitted. Ash could tell from just texting that I wasn’t right too, but I wasn’t ready to admit “happy Don” wasn’t quite so happy, and I felt guilty and stupid for feeling this way. Hello!! Didn’t I just have a perfectly healthy, little boy, who in the grand scheme of things, I’m told by my Ma, is a pretty good baby!
I took Small Man for a check up at our surgery. It went well, he was perfect. Dr Herzmark asked me how I was and I cried. I cried, I talked, she listened and made notes. She seen me once every 4wks for 6 months, to ask how I was and to listen. Dr Herzmark never mentioned the words postnatal depression to me, but I had a sneaky look at her computer screen one day, she had me down as border line. Half way through this time, she said to me, I’m not going to prescribe you anything because I know you can pull out of this yourself. I didn’t want anything anyway, her time, those 12 minutes were enough to help me find my usual get up and go. I began to get my groove back and started going to local baby groups and meeting new people, new friends.
I will always be so, so grateful to Dr Herzmark for her time.
Although, I was never officially diagnosed as suffering from postnatal depression, the roots were there and I think my loneliness fed these roots, if it wasn’t for a small “how are you” it may have festered into something worse. Sometimes a bright smile is just an illusion.
The only advice I can give you is, if you are suffering, take the advice YOU would give to somebody else and don’t be too proud or ashamed to use it on yourself. You don’t have to make like the new baby made life perfect. The Perfect Mammy is a myth.
Love Donna x