The thing about having a baby that everyone always reminds you of when you’re pregnant is your hormones. ‘Oh, you’re upset because of that video of the cat stuck up the tree?’ ‘Oh you’re screaming like a banshee in Morrisons because they don’t have the brand of tomato ketchup you like?’ ‘It’s absolutely your husband’s fault that you put your phone in the fridge and now you cant find him.’ ‘Crying because yet again you’ve sat down without remembering to bring your drink over and you’re too heavy to help yourself up?’
Well nobody tells you what happens when these hormones go away. I have a history of being labelled with the dreaded word ‘disorder’. According to a Psychiatrist, I have Borderline Personality Disorder which when you read about it kinda makes sense. Basically I take friendships and relationships super seriously and feel the feels a lot more than most, which when you think about it is super cute until you cant get out of bed for 4 days because a friend invited someone else to their house when they felt upset and didn’t tell you.
With this history of Mental Illness I was more prone to Postnatal Depression and my god did it hit me like a brick to the face.
When my son was born, I didn’t have the initial rush of love that you see on One Born Every Minute. I didn’t cry or scream or even say much of anything. I was keen to get him to latch so he could have a good feed, stared at every single inch of him and then handed him to my husband so that he could have skin to skin. I then went to the bathroom with my mum and had a bath and chatted to her as if nothing had even happened. I went back into the room, climbed into my Tena Lady pants, got my pyjamas on, brushed my hair and dressed my baby and held him for a picture. I was proud that I had a baby but it didn’t really register fully.
Back on the ward, I checked him thoroughly, I made sure he had the appropriate number of layers on, that he had a hat and scratch mitts and that he was correctly swaddled. There he was, dressed head to toe in white, wrapped in a soft cotton white blanket, my baby. How odd. He didn’t really do much, he didn’t cry, he didn’t whimper. Everyone said he was beautiful and that I must be proud. I mean I was but it didn’t really connect.
It took about 5 days for me to realise that I’d had a baby, and at this point I sat and cried and sobbed about how happy I was and how beautiful he was and how I couldn’t believe he was mine. I kept asking my husband “Babe can you see him?” as if somehow me having this ‘lightbulb moment’ had rendered him blind.
My husband could only take a week of paternity leave and on the 8th day of my son’s life I was left to my own devices. Well I’ve never wished a day away so quickly, I wanted my husband back home the minute that he left. What exactly what I supposed to do with a baby who is totally non responsive and doesn’t know me more than a boob and somewhere to sleep.
In all honestly I don’t remember my first day alone with him. I think I blocked it out, I do remember my husband coming home and me running to the door and hugging him. Hell you’d think that I’d been looking after a baby demon all day, but I definitely wasn’t. Compared to how much time and attention my tiny human needs now, his newborn days were a dream, only I didn’t know this then.
The loneliness was the worst. The say to surround yourself with people and you’ll never feel lonely, of course friends want to see your new fresh smelling baby who has only been on the planet a few days, but all I wanted was my husband. There were days when I would look at him and not care, if he cried, I would just want him to stop but I wouldn’t want to do anything to make him stop. There were days when if I’d not slept, or if he was constantly feeding that I would hate my life, I would go so far as to say that sometimes it even felt like I hated him (do not confuse this for me not loving him because he’s my world). There were days when I would question if I’d done the right thing, if this is what I wanted. My husband got to leave and go to work everyday, he got to still be himself. I was just a milk making nappy changing lump of human dealing with a smaller lump of human who didn’t care who I was unless he was warm, full and dry.
I didn’t have bad moments, I had bad days, and I still have them now. When he was tiny, there were days when I would cry on the phone to my husband, begging him to come home because I couldn’t deal with one more bout of tears from my baby. There were days when I wanted to just stop and walk away.
Often, (or so it seemed) I had been nursing him for an hour, he had unlatched and I went to the toilet, I would hear him screaming as if he hasn’t been fed since the day he was born.
I once found myself changing him very aggressively and had to stop, put him in his cot and go outside. I took the baby monitor and could hear him crying, half dressed, while I stood outside having a cigarette. My neighbours must have thought I was odd and definitely not fit for motherhood. That episode is odd because clearly I wanted him to be safe or else I wouldn’t have put him in his cot and clearly I didn’t want to hurt him because I stopped when I felt myself getting angry.
There are days when it takes everything for me to get a smile from my child, where I’m literally about to blow my head off my shoulders just to get him to laugh, then my husband will walk in and it will be smiles and giggles and I’ll want to lock them both outside and pretend they don’t exist.
That being said, I can live with postnatal depression for now. I try my hardest not to let it consume me. There are days when it does and there are days when it doesn’t. Who knows how or if it will get better or worse but what I do know its, depression or not, if I could bottle the love I have for that baby and sell it? I’d be a millionaire.