'Beyond the Baby Blues!'
Back Down Memory Lane
As family and friends all get together and celebrate the festivities of the holiday season, I find myself reflecting on just how far I've come. This time last year (23rd December 2017 to be exact), my husband and I found out the sex of our baby! With so much anticipation and hope for parenthood in the coming year, I was shocked with what was to come.
The day my son was born – 16th May 2018 at 6.15am – was like a 'beautiful storm'. A 'calm chaos'. The feelings of joy and fear all at once. I had this overwhelming sense of responsibility and anxiety, yet my heart was full of hope as I held my angel.
After a traumatic labour experience, worrying about my baby having a suspected heart murmur, and later, my struggles with breastfeeding, I was, quite frankly, disappointed with what I felt being a mum had to offer.
The Expectations of Motherhood
With so many expectations of motherhood: me staring at my baby all day long, and the bond we would create whilst I breastfed him – I was only left with feelings of guilt for not feeling those feelings. In my head, I had built up motherhood to be this 'LaLa Land' of easy breastfeeding and cooing smiles. Don't get me wrong, I knew motherhood wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that my life, my marriage and my routines would change, but I wasn't prepared for this. Depression after birth.
Being a Christian, I was always taught about the power of the tongue and the importance of speaking positively. And, whilst this is absolutely necessary, I found that in some ways I felt ashamed to speak up and tell someone that I wasn't okay. And in all honesty, sometimes 'ignorance is bliss' - if I addressed it, somehow I felt it would only materialise into something much worse.
"Shame, Shame, Shame!" was all I could hear.
Ashamed that I didn't bond with my baby straight away, ashamed that I wasn't the 'natural' nurturing mum, ashamed that I didn't have the energy to play with or even speak to my baby, ashamed that I couldn't breastfeed, ashamed that I hated my body after having him. I can remember my baby would be in his 'Next-To-Me™' crib beside me at night and I would have to turn away from him because I was just so anxious. Tears well up in my eyes when I think about just how depressed I was.
Sleep-deprived and anxious, I would troop on, trying my absolute best to just make it through the day without crying. I felt miserable, lethargic and guilty, but most of all,
...I felt hopeless.
At such a challenging crossroad of my life, everything I knew to do left me. I couldn't even pray.
Thank God for Family
I can remember this day so vividly; my husband had just come home from work and was able to look after Ethan whilst I attempted (because I didn't produce much milk) to express. I remember staring into space, with the gnawing sound of the electronic breast pump droning on and tears streaming down my face. My husband walked into the room, hugged me and said,
"Rest. I'll take care of Ethan for the night".
At that moment, I realised something, and to many, the obvious. But I realised that I wasn't alone in this. I had a good support system. Yes you may see these lovely pictures of me and my family smiling, but you never know the story behind that smile or the journey behind that picture. So, I leave you with this: ask for help and please do not suffer in silence. If need be, get professional help. Make use of your loved ones! I'm sure they are more than happy to help. Most importantly, whilst the year may be ending and you may be feeling as if you have so much more to accomplish, just remember how far you've come. Don't give up on hope. Please.
And trust me when I say that the best is yet to come.
Simply Deborah xo