I think this is quite a taboo subject and people don’t want to open up about it because they feel when you have a baby, you should only be happy. Feeling emotional doesn’t make you ungrateful or a bad parent in any way. The changes your body goes through in pregnancy and continues to go through post-birth, are immense. There are so many different hormones flying around and lack of sleep definitely doesn’t help. I think people feel if they open up about how they’re feeling, it will instantly be labelled as post-natal depression and they’ll be treated like they aren’t coping. Whilst I don’t think it’s necessarily always post-natal depression, if it is, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and doesn’t make you ‘crazy’. You only hear about the extreme cases but it’s a really common thing that can be treated as soon as it’s recognised.
When Isabella was about 3-months-old, I started feeling down and emotional all the time. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself crying and even though I was really busy, I felt isolated and alone. Days would go by and I’d get nothing done, I’d feel constantly criticised and forget everything, feeling useless. I’d spend my entire evening getting Isabella to sleep and I’d just be exhausted with no time to myself. The arguments at home affected me a lot more than they usually would and I just felt like a failure that was in the way with an annoying crying baby. All I wanted was someone to tell me I’m doing an alright job and it’ll get easier.
Because I’m an open person with quite a dark sense of humour, I would tell close friends about how I was feeling and be light-hearted about it. Deep down I was terrified it was something serious but I felt hopeful because I was facing up to it. I felt like that scene from ‘About a Boy’ where the mum drops the milk everywhere when she’s making cereal and bursts into tears. I would be absolutely fine and happy, then it would get to a certain time of day and I’d have no energy left or something small would set me off. I desperately wanted to just ‘snap out of it’ but I couldn’t. I spoke to my GP about it and she thought I had some mild post-natal depression brought on by stress. I was put on the waiting list for counselling (to be seen sometime in 2023 probably).
I have definitely struggled with no longer being that care free 21-year-old like my friends but not fitting in with the cliquey ‘yummy mummy’ types at groups. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some lovely mum friends, however, I often didn’t feel like socialising. People unintentionally made me feel insecure by saying things like ‘did you see the way those people were looking at you?’ or ‘you must get that a lot, people staring and judging because you look young’. I can honestly say I’ve never noticed people looking. I think if I was 16 walking around in school uniform it would be different but I’m a grown woman and as good a mum as anyone. I think sometimes people try to be supportive in their own way but it comes across as belittling. I couldn’t let it make me paranoid as if you start looking to see if people are staring, the chances are they will.
Since starting my menstrual cycles again, I’m starting to feel a bit more normal. I have my 5 days a month where I’m a raving lunatic then I feel alright again, rather than feeling a bit mental all the time. I’m not saying it’s completely gone away but I’m starting to manage it a lot better. I still have days where I have to leave Isabella crying for a few minutes so I can gently rock and cry by myself in silence, but are you really getting the true mum experience if you don’t?
Now Isabella is nearly 6 months, I want to try and tackle the sleep issues. I’d love to have a bath of an evening or watch Corrie with a cuppa instead of endless rocking and dangling my boob over the cot trying to settle her. I’m starting to look like Quasimodo’s more hunchbacked brother. Soon, I’d like to be able to leave her to go to the gym or the occasional night out but at the moment, it’s a tough babysitting gig. It is so important to have time to yourself as a mum so I think once I start having that again, it’ll do me the world of good.