I remember the feelings and thoughts going through my head when my husband had to return to work after having my first baby, after just 2 days. I was stuck in a village I hardly knew as we’d just moved to the area. I was feeling anxious and unsure how I would cope with the daily chore of looking after a baby. I felt that I needed to look after myself, never mind a new-born. I remember crawling up the stairs one day in tears thinking “what have I done”? It was the most difficult and challenging thing I have ever done. The worst thing was I had hardly any support as my parents had moved to Cyprus a few years previously. I had terrible thoughts some days that I’d be better off dead. The doctor prescribed me some anti- depressants. The health visitor reassured me and said, “now let’s get the old Jo back again”. It’s only then I realised how much I’d lost myself, lost my whole identity.
I was making it through each day in a daze of exhaustion, anxiety and depression and used to walk for miles with the pram just to pass time. My partner wasn’t much support so that did not help matters. I think in this situation, support is one of the key elements. It took a while, but I gradually began to feel a bit more like myself. When my son was 10 months old my relationship broke down with his Dad. I found myself a place to rent and went on benefits and was much happier without him, although I had absolutely no support, it was better than being in a miserable relationship. His Dad took him some days to give me respite. I’m not saying it was easy, but can look back on it and say, “I did that all by myself and I am proud of what I’ve achieved”.
Ten or so years later I met and fell in love with Richie, a friend from my past! It all happened very quickly as we just knew it was right, and let’s say, my biological clock was ticking! I was scared when I got pregnant that the post-natal depression would return with number 2, but I remained positive. When Findlay was born Richie took a week off before he returned to work. I remember feeling anxious and desperate again, and I remember crying and saying I didn’t want him to go back to work and leave me alone. Findlay had not been an easy baby. His daytime naps would last 10 minutes and then his eyes would ping open. I remember thinking is there something wrong with him, why won’t he sleep longer?!! I tried lying him on his front keeping a watchful eye over him, but the same thing happened.
I tried walking with him in the pram, and finally after a long time his eyes began to close, got to the front door, parked the pram quietly and moved stealthily into the house, ping, his eyes would open. It turned out this was a daily occurrence, and I was getting absolutely no downtime!! IT WAS HELL. He wasn’t a great sleeper at night either and seemed to be up and down and would take ages to settle back to sleep. We were wondering what on earth was wrong. So, one night we’d had enough and took him to out of hours. The word “reflux” was music to my ears. I mean it was horrible that he had it, but there was finally an explanation as to why he never slept long! Acid coming up your throat is painful for us, never mind a baby! We were given medication and things improved ten- fold!!
I survived both these occasions and I’m proud of it, especially my days as a single Mum. I am living proof that things can and will get better! Finding time for yourself, asking for support and getting out and meeting other Mums who may be in the same position as you, are key elements to your recovery from post- natal depression. You can, and will be happy again and you will enjoy being a Mummy!!
All my Love