The first time depression hit me hard was back in 2014 after the birth of my son. That’s not to say I never experienced depression before, but that marked what came to be my lowest lows of all time.
Even now as I’m writing this I hesitate, wondering if I’m even allowed to say something so hurtful about the birth of my child. What sort of emotions will this stir in those who read this? Will they think I don’t love him? They say the birth of your child is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, full of pink little clouds, cradles and fluffy stuffed animals. That wasn’t my experience at all, and I’m not alone.
Before I continue though, I want to point out that just like all other mothers, including those who’s suffered from Postpartum depression, I love my son more than anything, or anybody in this world. We simply had a difficult start. It doesn’t define our relationship, or the love within it.
My son was born through a Caesarean-section due to his size. He was a huge baby- 5300 g (11,7 lbs), and over 60 cm (24,5 inches) in lenght. I think that was the starting point of when things started to go down-hill. Up until that very day I was set on a natural birth, and when the C-section was suggested to me it came very unexpected. I say suggested now, but it was a lot more like a doctor’s order. Going through with a natural birth was deemed too risky for both me and the baby so I went along with it of course, not wanting to risk mine or my baby’s life. I know it was the right decision in the end, but the change of action threw me off. It wasn’t what I wanted, or what I expected and I didn’t know how to deal with the emotions of my dream birth going down the drain.
The Caesarean went well, with no bigger complications. My son was beautiful. Brown fuzzy hair, big blue eyes and looked extremely mature for a newborn. One of the mid-wives at the hospital even called him an old-soul there on the spot. That first night though changed me. I was all by myself with the baby, still in the prep-room (for surgery) because they wanted to keep us there due to the amount of blood I had lost. To be honest, I was pretty dozed off at the time, I even got problems remember, but I know I made no attempts to hold, or feed my new baby. I was just laying there looking at him, terrified of going to sleep in case he’d die if I did. To this day I still don’t understand my reasoning behind it. I was awake almost the whole night, anxiously just staring at him.
Four days later we got to go home. I tried to be happy. Told myself I had to be happy, cause anything else would be abnormal. I just had a baby for crying out loud, and I always wanted to be a mom. So why couldn’t I be happy? But instead I was living as if in a bubble, unable to connect to my son or to the outside world. I felt very anxious all the time, extremely alone and abandoned. Those late-night feedings when I’d sit up with a baby who wouldn’t take the breast, and it felt like all but me and my wee one were sleeping, took forever. All those walks in the late evenings because he was crying and wouldn’t fall asleep took a toll. I remember feeling like I was in a fog and that lasted at least the first 6 months. I’d cry almost daily. Feeling alone, like I couldn’t handle things, and I had nowhere to go cause my son needed me. It was as if I couldn’t breathe. Never EVER did I hurt my baby, but I’ll admit my thoughts turned very unpleasant at times. I told my son’s dad some of those dark thoughts I had in a plea for help, but nothing changed. We didn’t at all realize what was happening until years down the line, that’s when it dawned on me that I had suffered a Postpartum depression.
My son and I got a pretty ordinary relationship today. It took longer for us to bond, but as time passed and he started to develop into a little person with a distinct personality, we finally grew very close. He’s my world, and he’s a definite momma’s boy at heart. I’d like to think that our struggles connecting made us stronger in the end. We fought for each other.
My story is not unusual. Postpartum depression is a lot more common than most people think. Roughly 20%(!) of new mothers are faced with it, yet it’s something that is often times kept in secrecy. If a mom doesn’t love her child instantly and can connect to them straight away after birth it’s seen as a failure, like the mother did something wrong. Having a baby is an overwhelming experience, and emotions are raging high for a long time after. There is no right or wrong way to react to such an event, and blame is definitely not the answer.