Hello!

I found out I was pregnant with my second baby just before my first child’s first birthday.

Although I was extremely nervous about how I was going to manage 2 under 2, I was quite relieved that the decision to have another baby had been taken out of my hands… My first little boy was born 2 months premature, so with the trauma of his early arrival I often wondered if I would be brave enough to go back for another baby?!

The experience of having my second little boy was quite the opposite to my first birth. It was a natural and beautiful birth that I shared with my husband and special friend. At the time I remember being overwhelmed with gratitude for being able to experience a natural birth after a caesarian first time round.

When I look back however, I think that the birth was probably the start of my postnatal depression (also known know as perinatal depression, but for the purposes of this article I will refer to it as PND).

“The more ‘normal’ that everything was with my second baby, the more I was reminded of how ‘abnormal’ and challenging things had been with my first.”

These feelings often plagued my thinking in the early days. I would be enjoying a beautiful bonding moment breast-feeding, and then the tears would start to flow because I remember having to wait 3 weeks before I could even try feeding my first little boy. There was a lot of sadness that I held onto very tightly whilst being in survival mode with 2 under 2.

There was also plenty of good intentions from people reminding me of how lucky I was to have 2 healthy little boys after all that we had been through, but this seemed to make it worse. My guilty feelings started and the dilemma in being thrilled that we had two healthy bubs, coupled with an unspeakable grief continued. The lack of ‘air time’ I gave myself and what was imposed I guess by other well-meaning people in my life, failed to address what was being bought up for me on a daily basis around my start to Motherhood.

I found quickly that my unexpressed sadness and guilt turned into indescribable anxiety. I can put a name to it now because I understand it.

But back then I could only identify with it as a constant knot in my stomach that made it difficult for me to make decisions, that had me overreacting to little situations, that left me interpreting what people said as constant criticism of how I was Mothering and that eventually saw me withdrawing from social situations.

Along with the anxiety other things started to happen. I would hear my baby crying even when the house was silent and I started to think that I was doing more damage to my boys by being here than if I was not around. I wanted to run, hide and put an end to it all.

The suicidal thoughts became more frequent. But they remained inside, held tightly under lock and key by my mantra ‘don’t let anyone see your weakness’.

“What others saw from the outside was completely different to what I was experiencing on the inside”.

They saw a young Mum who had two little boys on a great routine of eating, playing and sleeping. I had a nice house, a great husband, a job to return to after maternity leave and a supportive extended family that helped out with the kids when needed. What they saw I knew was true as well, but there was something unknown happening inside of me that came in waves and that started crashing over me with increasing regularity.

I sought some counselling at a local family care center because I was aware I needed some help. At the time I was not really sure what I was having counselling for, but part of me knew there was something not quite right.

After a few sessions I remember asking the counselor, who I had developed a straight talking relationship with (being a social worker myself) I asked her ‘what do you think is wrong?’ She replied gently ‘ I think you have serious postnatal depression’. I remember becoming incredibly defensive and telling her flat out that I didn’t think PND existed and I actually believed it was an excuse for people who were ‘failing’ as Mothers. As I write this now I am so sorry to myself and other women that I had ever held this belief.

“If I had of been able to separate PND from being a ‘bad mother’ I probably would have been open to getting help sooner”.

The counselor gave me a book on PND with different women’s experiences in it. I sat in bed that afternoon and started reading and I remember being blown away that each of the women were describing symptoms of more or less intensity that I had been experiencing.

Not one woman’s story was exactly the same as mine, but each of them shared similar themes and that made me cry more than I had allowed myself to before. I cried mostly because I was relieved that what I was experiencing actually had a name that I understood now, but also because I was so sad that I had suffered for what felt like forever without getting help.

My husband was probably the only one who really saw things slipping for me. It was the night that he sat with me on the couch, my brave and courageous man who is never lost for words, and started to cry saying ‘I don’t know what to do?’ It was at this point that I realised (when my little boy was about 6 months old) that something was seriously wrong.

Being the warrior women that I was I continued individual counselling through a family center, which later turned into group therapy as well. I started exercising regularly, accessing formal and informal support with childcare for the kids and was convinced I was going to get well without medication.

“I was going to show other women how to ‘do’ postnatal depression ‘well’ and I would be one of the success stories”.

Unfortunately despite the enormous amount of support I had around me things continued to slip. I ended up having to go on medication as I felt I had exhausted all other options. Although I was unsure about how I felt about taking medication myself, I was certain that I could not put my family though anymore. I owed it to them. Now I realise I owed it myself as well.

Within a week of taking medication I remember thinking am I going to feel high? but I just started to feel like me again. Oh the relief! So medication combined with heaps of counselling, support, group work, family help, childcare and exercise got me through it in the end! Talking about it really helped…

So my intention now that I am well is to keep talking about it. Not because I had PND, but because I survived it. PND depression affects 1 in 7 new mothers and 1 in 10 new fathers.

“Start Talking” is the motto of a special place called The Gidget Foundation www.gidgetfoundation.com.au

The Gidget Foundation works to promote awareness of PND and anxiety amongst women and their families, their healthcare providers and the wider community to ensure that those in need receive timely, appropriate and supportive care.

The Gidget Foundation provides a unique support service at Gidget House for public and private patients. They offer assessment and counselling through a psychologist, with access to psychiatric and social work referral as needed. In order to access their service you need a referral from your GP.

If you or someone you know is experiencing PND start talking about as there is help available.

  • Such a difficult and traumatic thing to experience! I still think it’s widely misunderstood, even in today’s tolerant society. I know of done who think mums are ‘playing’ on it :/

    Reply

  • Awareness is the key here! Thank you for sharing your story… and I hope it encourages others to do so as well.

    Reply

  • I am currently, and have been for the last 10 months (my first little girl is 15 months) suffering from PND. I did medication and it just made me feel worse!! I felt so tempered and blah so I took myself off them. And I was ok for a bit . But it’s all fallen apart again. I think it all just comes down to support and getting the help that’s right for you and your family.

    Reply

  • Such an honest story. Thanks for sharing.


    • It felt good to share! Thanks for taking the time to read and respond xox



      • yeah cheers Angela great article for awareness

    Reply

  • Very honest and heartening article, and so important. There’s so much pressure on women to be grateful at the opportunity to become mums, that we feel like we have to always put on a brave face, regardless of what we may be experiencing. Much more awareness – particularly the understanding that PND can happen to any mum – and support is definitely required.
    Very best wishes.


    • Yes it is about awareness and education I think, for Mums and the general community! Thanks for taking the time to reply :)

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  • Thank you for sharing your story, I went threw a similar thing after having my second child had it all the husband perfect happy life but couldn’t stop crying and got some help with medication and just felt alive again, know I have had my 3rd son who mind you is nearly 2 am I going threw PND again at this age or is it just that know life is not so perfect pastner keeps leaving for wks at a time and I find myself so upset and angry all the time, seeing a councillor so we will see. thank you


    • I’m sorry to hear that you went though a similar thing. As for your feelings and experiences now, it sounds like you are on the right track with going and speaking to a counsellor about them. Best of luck on your journey xox

    Reply

  • So great. Very interesting. Canvas Prints


    • Glad you found it interesting, thanks for taking the time to read and respond ;)

    Reply

  • thank you for being honest it would not only help you but many other who feel like this


    • Thanks for taking the time to read it! Yes very therapeutic for me, and hopefully helpful to other women in a similar situation x

    Reply

  • Thankyou for being honest. I’m sure there’s someone reading this story who now will go seek help.

    Reply

  • I really feel for women who suffer from this, instead of enjoying their time that all too soon is gone with babies


    • Yes it is hard and tough and a million things, but I still enjoyed and continue to enjoy my little boys ;) Having had PND does not define me as Mum, it was just part of my journey, and has now added to the richness in the highs and lows of all of it x

    Reply

  • PND is more prevalent than people think.
    Great article and thanks for sharing your story.


    • Glad you enjoyed reading it and thanks for taking the time to tell me!

    Reply

  • Such a brave article. Thank you for sharing.


    • It felt pretty scary to share, but after reading the comments here and on Facebook I feel that my intention to raise awareness has made it all been worthwhile!

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  • Your words sum up exactly what I went through with my first child. Thank you for sharing. It is a very hard thing to describe and explain to those who haven’t experienced it- I will be sharing your post. X


    • It’s nice to know you are not alone and glad some of this resonates with your experience. I wish you well and thank you for sharing this article with other women x

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  • I have never understood it, but know a lot of women do get it


    • I hope this helps you understand it x

    Reply

  • An interesting read – thank you


    • Thanks for taking the time to read and respond x

    Reply

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