I want to get serious for one post and one post only- it is maternal mental health week after all!
After having all my boys, I have experienced the so called ‘baby blues’. With one it went away relatively quickly, with two however, it morphed into something much worse and longer lasting. I wanted to use this post to try and explain why it’s ok not to be ok. If it even helps one person to realise that we are all facing the same things, I will be happy (well, as happy as I can be at the minute with three boys and myself to keep alive).
According to research, eight in ten new mums will experience the ‘baby blues’. They typically hit a few days after you have given birth. With me however, they have hit weeks after, sometimes months. They tend to coincide with the sudden lack of sleep and realisation of what the f@#k have I done! So you typically beat yourself up- why am I not happy? I have this new baby here that I wanted so badly, so why can I not feel anything positive?
Let’s take a look at things from a realistic point of view now. You have carried and nurtured a baby in your tummy for nine whole months. In those nine months you have felt like sh#$ for the majority. From having your head down the toilet the first three months, to resembling a whale with a weak bladder function at the end. This does nothing for anyone’s confidence at all! The no sleep started already with you having to wake and pee every ten minutes. You would then stay awake contemplating/panicking if you were fully prepared for the bundle of joy about to enter your life.
Then due day (doomsday) suddenly arrives- you are about to have a baby! Maybe things end up going seriously awry at this point. You end up being induced, having a c section or the baby’s heart rate dangerously dips. This is all traumatic stuff for one person to deal with! After all this, they then expel you from hospital faster than it took you to get into a pregnant condition in the first place.
When home, you are hoping for some much needed rest. Instead you end up fending off hordes of visitors when all you really want is some time with your new baby to figure out what the hell you should be doing with it! You are sore, knackered and above all else- human! You are not a machine. You are normal. So it is any wonder that eight in ten of us get these ‘baby blues?’ Actually, why are they even called this? They should just be referred to as ‘the normal way to feel after you have just had a baby’. Why are new mums being made to feel utterly useless from the outset because they are purely exhausted and emotional?
Now we’ve established why this happens, and that we are all similar, we can move onto what happens when it doesn’t get better itself. Which, by the way, is also totally, you got it- NORMAL! I kept waiting for the cloud to lift after having my first son but, six months into new found motherhood, it still hadn’t. I didn’t even want to get out of bed most days (you really can’t have this attitude when you are responsible for keeping a little human alive). Off to the doctors I went. Nowadays it’s the norm to only get a ten minute appointment with your GP. When you actually get into the room though it’s more like five minutes. This isn’t their fault of course. That’s life- everyone is busy! The doctor prescribes me Fluoxetine at this time, after listening to an overview of my current mindset. I felt really embarrassed by that. I don’t know why I thought that way, but I did. These things wrongly carry a stigma I guess. Maybe I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t strong enough to fight it myself?
Fast forward six months and I was off them and feeling great. Why? I can only think that it is because I went back to work. This, for me personally, was the turning point- along with the extra chemical help of course. I felt like my old self again for three days a week. The me before the little he! Making bottles, changing nappies and responding to cries wasn’t my only role now. I could even drink a full cup of tea in peace and, wait for it, a whole cupful! Oh my god, I could even have a conversation with no interruptions and one that didn’t involve “ma ma” every two seconds. Sometimes you just loose yourself in this having kids business and all it takes is taking your own little time out. Not that I didn’t miss my baby every second but, I was a happier mum for having some space. If you can call ‘work’ space.
The baby is four months old now and I find myself feeling exactly like I did after my first son and the above. Writing is helping (plus the fact I find myself hilarious when I do). I keep telling myself that I came out of this before and will do so again. I have to, there’s a lot of men in my life depending on me who, by the way, can’t do anything for themselves *rolls eyes dramatically*.
If anyone is struggling in this way, please contact me for a chat. Failing this, please check out this mothers to mothers link or go to your own GP for some help and support: Contact numbers for post natal depression