In December 2012 my husband and I welcomed our first son into our lives and we fell in love all over again. We loved each other more deeply. We appreciated each other more. We connected on a whole new level. Unfortunately, we also fought more.
We fought because we were tired from the mind shattering sleep deprivation that comes with newborns. We fought because we were frustrated that we couldn’t settle this fidgeting, reflux-addled little guy. We fought because we couldn’t just up and leave the house without having to spend an hour prepping everything that goes with a baby. We fought because we loved each other but we were both too exhausted to show it. We fought because our lives had changed.
Our lives had changed in a wonderful, but challenging way. I would watch my husband sleep while I fed the baby, my eyes hanging out of my head. Every time he let out a deep rumbling snore I wished that heavy objects would fall on him. Every breath he took in I felt so glad that he was getting some rest and happy that he was peaceful. What a confusing time.
Becoming a parent can be so isolating and it can only be made harder with postnatal depression. I suffered so badly that I had no drive in me to get dressed most days. I knew that going to mums groups would help but I had no oomph, no push to get there.
I made excuses to myself as to why I wasn’t going. It was too far, I couldn’t afford the petrol, the weather sucked. It was all rubbish, I just couldn’t face all the happy people who were, in my mind, cruising through this parenting gig. So I stayed at home and drowned in my loneliness.
I’ve had two more baby boys since then (yes, that’s three boys aged three and under for those doing the math). I’ve suffered from postnatal depression with each bub but there’s a difference between my first and the next two.
Shame. With my eldest I was full of it. I was ashamed of the fact that I had postnatal depression, but by the second bub I was all shamed out.
Postnatal depression is absolutely and unequivocally not something to be ashamed of. It’s something that many people deal with every single day and the sooner we stop speaking about it in hushed tones, the sooner we can focus on supporting those who have been touched by the darkness.
Postnatal depression also absolutely doesn’t mean that you don’t love your children. It doesn’t mean that you’re failing. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent. It’s just something that some of us have to deal with, each in our own way.
I’ve been told that having three so close together is irresponsible when I suffer from PND. Why? I know my limits, I know my coping mechanisms, I have an incredible support system, and most of all, I love my children with every single fibre of my being. I will never let this beast control my life in a way that it would dictate the size of my family.
I will personally forever battle anxiety, but my postnatal depression will be defeated. I will escape the grasp of its cold, hard claws one day.
And I’ll be a stronger woman for it, surrounded by my beautiful boys and incredible husband who had the patience to wait for me to find the light.