Welcome to our weekly Geeks Vs Loneliness spot, which pops up every Friday at Den Of Geek. The aim is to try and talk about some of the things that might bog us down from time to time (and a lot worse in some cases), and hopefully come up with some tips that may be of use somewhere along the line. Not every article is for every person, and we have no magic wand in our armoury. But we do – as trite as it might sound – actually want to help.
This week, we’re handing this page over to Clancy75, who approached us, wanting to talk about post-natal depression. We think she’s wonderful, and she’s written us the following…
When you have a baby, you are supposed to be overwhelmed with love, that’s what they tell you. Even the magazines that tell you to not worry if you don’t, and that baby blues are completely normal, keep it in small, embarrassed print. The rest of the magazine will still be about wonderful relationships between mother and babe.
Despite the fact that I have suffered with depression since I was about 18, I felt that overwhelming rush of love for my first child. It didn’t waver once. He was an easy baby, and I was an awesome mum. Everyone commented on how easy it seemed to me, and it was. I was amazing! Home-cooked meals, baby groups, domestic goddess. Get me!
Then, along came A.
I was pregnant and my husband had just lost his job, the first of many such situations. Money was tight and things were hard. I went over my due date by two weeks. I hated this pregnancy and the icing on the cake was when I finally went into labour and it became clear that this was going to be an unplanned home birth. No pain relief, no medical assistance and he was breech with the cord around his neck.
At that moment, paramedics rushed in and got the cord off and him out but he was a grey, blue colour and wasn’t breathing. My husband was sobbing but I couldn’t feel anything but relief. My only thought was about how long I would have to pretend to be sad for after he died.
This is not an easy thing to admit because it shames me now and I hate how I felt. It was so unfair on him and me. The paramedics resuscitated him and he turned pink as we watched. He was placed in my arms amid relieved laughter and tears and I turned the corners of my mouth up, but was gutted. I was going to have to get through this.
And so started a near two-year battle to love my child.
I never wanted to hurt him and I cared for him well, but I couldn’t love him. I thought he felt the same about me. He fought me when I fed him, he scratched and pulled at me. Hit me. Pulled me. He would cry constantly. Outwardly, I coped. People asked how I managed with two of them so young and told me how good I was at it. I was expected to manage, so I did. I didn’t tell anyone how I felt because I thought I would come across as a failure.
Looking back, I can see that A did love me in his own way, but his way was an autistic way that I didn’t know about yet. That’s why he pulled and hit out at me. I had post-natal depression, which would have been diagnosed and understood if I had dared to tell anyone about it. Maybe A’s problems would have been diagnosed earlier had I opened up. Stupid really, A and I both fighting against things we couldn’t help or control and seemingly blaming and fighting against the person who should mean the most to them.
Of course I loved A. It took me some time to realise it, and we gradually grew together. He is the light of my life and I am so proud of his achievements and I am ashamed to look back at that time.
I think my advice to anyone who doesn’t feel that rush of love when they have a baby is don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a bad mum, it means that there is something that needs to be addressed and made better. I stayed silent and both I and my son suffered because of it. It may be a hard conversation to have but you need to be heard. Tell your doctor, your husband, your friend, your mother, anyone who will listen. Get help because help is out there.
I eventually told a friend about how I had felt when A was born, and it turned out that she had felt the same too. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone. Don’t suffer in silence. Be honest, share and find help.
Thanks, as always, for reading. And thanks especially to clancy75 this week. If you think you might be suffering from post or antenatal depression, below are some links to places that want to help you.