Monday, 9 July 2018

Postnatal Depression: One Year Later


A few weeks after Cassius was born I wrote a post about how I was feeling concerning baby blues and postnatal depression (click here to read) and now that it's been over a week since his 1st birthday, I wanted to do an update on how my first year as a mummy has been and how I'm dealing with the incredible life change. 

As I stated in the post I linked above, I was acutely aware of the possibility that I would eventually suffer from PND and was doing my best to stay positive and enjoy my time as a new mum without pressuring myself. I was insanely anxious about giving birth, becoming a mother and how I was going to have to grow up and put this little human before anything else in my life, even myself. I'd also had a weird mix up with my midwives about 3/4 of the way through my pregnancy which completely threw me off as I'd opened up to my first one and was completely comfortable with her, only to be told I would possibly now have a different one at my birth and she did nothing but make me feel inadequate and too young to be having a baby the entire time that I interacted with her which obviously was just great for my confidence...

After giving birth, for the first few weeks/months, you get lots of support from your local Health Visitor. They come round and check how you and baby are settling in, if breastfeeding is going well, how much baby weighs, and constantly asks if you are feeling alright and are experiencing any negative emotions. This was where I messed up. I'd been up and down for pretty much the entire first month after Cass was born but I didn't have the energy to explain myself so just claimed I was fine and we were handling everything well. Now that I look back on it, if I'd just spoken up when the help was right in front of me, I probably would have saved myself A LOT of unnecessary stress in the following months.

So what did postnatal depression feel like for me? I wasn't disconnected from my baby, I didn't want to harm myself or him and I didn't regret becoming a mum as such. The moment I realized I was suffering from PND was the night before I went to the doctors about my mastitis after days of struggling to breastfeed Cassius and being in horrific pain; I was already embarrassed and mortified that my newborn had struggled to latch onto me since the day he was born and was feeling useless that my body couldn't even feed him properly, which scared the life out of me considering he was 4 weeks premature and had quite a bit of catching up to do. I was in and out of these awful fevers that made me shivery, anxious as hell and had me up for hours in the middle of the night crying my eyes out that I was terrible mum and couldn't do this. The doctor was very informative explaining about mastitis and how easy it was to get rid of it and get back on track - but alas, my body wasn't having it. Once I got rid of it in one boob, my other boob got it. Typical. So after a horrifyingly disappointing beginning to my breastfeeding journey, I gave it up before he turned one month old, for both of our benefits, as he wasn't getting what he needed and I was in more pain than I could endure. So that was the first hit.

Then came the second. As selfish and ridiculous as it sounds, I began feeling neglected by a lot of my family in the first few months partpartum. The first week or so of having a baby is amazing because your whole family comes together to celebrate the birth of a new family member; giving you advice, helping you out with feeds, buying you them extra nappies and baby wipes that you need and it's a huge huge help when you're recovering and learning the ropes of motherhood. But when all the excitement wears off and everybody goes back to their daily life, you're left feeling ignored and alone which is something I never expected at all. Obviously I had Dane, my baby daddy, but I don't know, it's hard to explain, it felt like me and my baby were a quick distraction and then just kind of dumped when everyone had to go back to work and stuff. I quickly began feeling resentful (at nobody in particular), like I'd brought this beautiful life into the world and everyone was too busy to care. I know it sounds dramatic but you really don't know until you're in that position. It's nobodies fault that I felt that way, both of our families were incredibly helpful, it's just what I experienced and I'm so so glad it passed. 

After that came my appetite issues. I've always had trouble eating, not to an eating disorder level, but I would always eat just enough to keep me going and never put on any weight due to a number of factors. So the fact that I never had time to cook anything in the first few months really didn't help my situation. Me and Dane were living off microwave meals for a considerable amount of time at the beginning of Cass's life as it was just easier and whenever he was asleep, we tried to be asleep too. This obviously left me feeling fatigued all the time and it wasn't long before I felt like I was a robot in a routine to feed him, change nappies, sleep, repeat - with no time or interest in food whatsoever.
The next thing was my deep realization that by having a baby, I lost all my friends. I know people outgrow one another in life and you fall in and out of contact with people you grew up with and considered your close friends but this felt different to that. It was literally as though the moment I had Cassius, all my friends were like 'meh, she's old and boring now, bye' and almost all contact just ceased then and there. I've always struggled at maintaining friendships over the years anyway thanks to crippling anxiety and my inability to reply to texts in time (shitty excuses I know) but this spiraled me into a whole other level of depression. I was crying constantly, feeling inadequate as anything other than a mummy, pushing all of my worries onto my partner and just generally feeling as though nobody gave a shit about me. Talk about a self pity party huh?  It wasn't one of my finest moments...

And lastly, the TMI section of my PND story, was my complete loss of interest in sex. I won't go into too much detail to save you guys the squirm fest, but yeah, it sucked. It had absolutely nothing to do with my baby daddy. If anything, I was more attracted to him after having our bubba - my mind and body just could not get into the mood and it took a huge toll on my recovery process as I was feeling guilty all the time and getting really anxious that he would leave me since I couldn't provide that level of intimacy for a good while. Thankfully, as with the rest of my PND symptoms, this passed after a number of months and hasn't ruined my relationship at all which I'm so so grateful for. As much as women complain about men during the sensitive time after birth, when you get a good one, it can help tremendously and I was fortunate to have a supportive and understanding guy by my side. Even if he did have blue balls for a while. ;D

In the grand scheme of things, these worries of mine didn't seem enough to classify it as Postnatal Depression, but after reading multiple other mummy blogs and doing a lot of research on the topic to see what help was available and if I should have gone to the doctors, it became clear to me that PND is different for everyone and it doesn't make anybodies experience more or less serious. If you're feeling even a little bit down after having a baby, you absolutely should speak up - don't do a me and let it boil up inside because it made things 10x worse and lasted way longer than it should have. Whether it's to your family, your health visitor or your doctor, let your feelings be known. I was quite lucky in the sense that I didn't feel suicidal or any negative emotions towards my baby but not everyone is so lucky and you are not at all a bad person for feeling that way. Giving birth is a traumatic experience on the mind and body and it takes time to fully recover from that. You're only human, a strong one at that, and you deserve the time to recover in whatever way necessary. 

SHARE:

2 comments

  1. This is such an interesting post Jessica. I’ve never had a baby so I’m pretty clueless when it comes to PND. I have suffered from depression myself in the past so it does concern me I might get PND when I eventually have children. Your post is really helpful in explaining all the signs to look out for. Thank you so much for sharing your experience <3 xx

    Bexa | www.hellobexa.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks lovely, it's been a difficult road but I'm happy to be able to share my experience on here to help others know that they aren't alone and it's totally normal. It's always good to have a little insight for these things whether you're planning for children or not :) xx

      Delete

Blogger Template Created by pipdig