I haven’t posted in absolutely ages as was busy giving birth to my now six month old son and have been completely preoccupied with looking after him! It was tough at first, but things have got easier due to us managing to get him into a bit of a routine. He is, however, exactly like myself when was a baby (so I’m told), in that he is demanding, attention seeking, and generally hard work! That said, he is anything but boring, and is massively affectionate and intelligent.
I hated being pregnant. There, I said it.
It’s funny thinking about how much I am gushing about him, as I certainly did not feel like this at the start. In fact, controversially, I disliked being pregnant, hated the way my body looked, and felt it was completely out of my control. You wouldn’t have thought it, though, from looking at photos of me, or talking to me, as I was always trying to hide how I felt. If I did try and explain it to someone, they would think that I was crazy: “what?! How can you not be excited? How can you not like being pregnant?” Most of this came from those who had not had babies, but also to a lesser extent, those who had. This made me feel guilty as if something was wrong with me. I did go and see a Perinatal Counsellor, but this again made me feel worse. I felt that I would need a lot of help when the baby was born, but the counsellor suggested that he would not know who his mum was if I let other people look after him. So I stopped seeing her.
Post-childbirth is not always all hearts and flowers like in films.
Fast forward to the birth. It was not all smiles and celebration when he was born; it was a long 48 hour labour and I was absolutely knackered. It was more relief that I felt; relief that the pain was over and that perhaps I could rest. Little did I know that babies do not allow you to rest! Being a spirited baby, my son cried A LOT. I couldn’t get the hang of breastfeeding either.
I ended up breaking down in my GP’s office whilst attending my son’s 6 week check. She offered to prescribe me antidepressants. I was so desperate, I agreed. I had been scared to take them before in case of addiction or scary side-effects, but I was at the point where I didn’t care. I couldn’t seem to bond with my baby, I was sleep deprived, I couldn’t breastfeed and I felt that nobody understood. Another doctor got me an appointment with a family psychiatrist whereby I was to go and speak to her with my baby. Leaving the house with him on my own freaked me out as I hated doing this. I was always anxious that he would start crying and that I wouldn’t be able to cope. I managed to go it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I felt proud that I had made it to the appointment. The sessions were helpful in that they helped me to empathise with my son and see why it was so frustrating not to be able to communicate with words.
The only way he could tell me what he wanted was to cry. I made an effort to talk to him more and involve him in what I was doing. I started to feel less anxious around him and really started to miss him when I went out to run errands, ironically because I was spending more time with him as opposed to avoiding him. However, I did find that the counsellor kept advising against other people looking after him. My parents would look after him when things got too much, especially when my husband was away working. She said that this was not a good thing and should be avoided where possible. So I felt guilty for doing this and stopped, leaving me depressed again and completely shattered. I decided to take what advice I needed and to leave the rest, which really worked for me.
I still ask my parents to look after Alfie as I love having time alone with my loving, supportive husband and sometimes I just really need to catch up on my sleep! Alfie loves seeing his grandparents too, and I no longer feel guilty about this as it helps me feel so much better physically and emotionally.
These feelings were not just ‘baby blues’; I felt too anxious to be alone with Alfie, I cried most of the time, I couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t eat anything. I was scared to leave the house with him, and was scared that something bad would happen to him if I wasn’t constantly prepared for the worst. I have to say, I wish I’d started taking anti-depressants earlier, and speaking to someone professional sooner. Friends didn’t understand, and I didn’t want to bother my family with such worries. I just wish women didn’t feel such pressure to be the perfect mum!
If anyone has similar feelings postnatally or even during pregnancy, I would definitely recommend speaking to a professional and possibly opening up to another mum as she may be going through the same thing. Also, don’t compare your baby to others; they are all individual. I used to ask myself, “why can’t Alfie be quiet and calm like that baby?” but now I feel blessed to have such a lively, happy and expressive son.