I’ve never written a post about how lonely I felt when I had my first baby, it didn’t feel right to talk about. Scared of being judged / accused of being selfish? When I look back I definitely fell into the category of “post the cute pics on social media and pretend everything is alright”, it wasn’t …
From the moment we got her home, we entered into our love bubble bouncing around with an overwhelming sense of love for this little person. Our small London flat needed a revolving door for the amount of visitors we had. Then after about 3 months reality hit. My mum had left me, husband was back at work, visitors started to disappear and I was alone with this little human 100% dependent on me. Oh fuck…
I’ll be honest I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t read baby books in the run up, I felt like we couldn’t get into a “routine” because every day was so different and I just told myself it would all just fall into place. Quite often when she cried it was because I’d probably set her off with my own wailing.
I was breastfeeding, she refused a bottle and was feeding like a demon, every few hours. I hated myself for wanting a break. I was in a permanent state of exhaustion and all I could think about was running away, just for a few hours to be “me”. As much as I loved my child I craved adult conversation. The girls I’d met in my NCT class plus a couple of other mum friends were my lifeline but there were days when I couldn’t even face getting dressed to go and meet them.
I spent many hours sitting crying on our couch with my big veiny boobs leaking everywhere staring at my baby thinking “you deserve a better mum”. My husband would get home, the house would be a mess and I looked just as bad, he would say “go to my mum’s and they will help you” but I couldn’t help but think they would judge me too.
Part of me thought – well you’ve chosen to live away from home, move to London where the streets are supposedly paved with gold, it’s your fault… I ran away up to Liverpool (always my home!) and will never forget a day at my aunty’s (who also happened to be a trained paediatric nurse) when she ordered me to “hand over the baby AND your phone and get to bed. I’ll come and wake you up in an hour”. My mind started racing – “the baby won’t take a bottle… she’ll only fall asleep on me… she’ll scream the house down if I’m not there… I’ve never left her with anyone before”…. One look from my aunty and I scuttled off to bed. I must’ve slipped into the deepest sleep and when I woke I was relaxed, there wasn’t a sound in the house… where the fuck was my baby??? Turns out i’d slept for 3 hours solid 😳. I went racing down the stairs and found everyone in the garden where the baby was cooing away happy and content after a full bottle of formula. WTF was this parallel universe?!
I realised I needed help and once that had settled with me it was like a turning point. I trotted off to the doctors and was diagnosed with PND and prescribed Sertraline. Even then I remember stashing the box refusing to accept I was depressed and saying I could fix myself. It was months later when the feelings of loneliness and self doubt crept back that I gave in and took the tablets.
I’ll never forget the Doctor saying “this isn’t a reflection on you, it’s not a failing. This is a chemical imbalance in your brain, almost like two crucial parts have separated and these tablets will bring them back together”. It was a real turning point for me and all of a sudden it started getting easier.
Being honest about how I was feeling opened up so many stories from others who were going through the same thing not that you’d know from their social media posts either! That’s when I decided to blog, for me writing down my experiences were a release. What I loved most was when it resonated with people.
I learned that stay at home days are ok, some baby classes are shite and specifically designed for mums out to compare themselves against others – so what if you don’t know the words to nursery rhymes, not wearing make up but wearing clothes two days in a row is also ok… some friends will get it when you have to let them down for some baby related issue, some won’t. Let go of people who don’t support you and cling on to those that do.
Most importantly put your hand up for help when it’s getting too much – we’re not superheroes. Your house might be a mess, piles of washing in every room and you look like Edward Scissorhands but if your child is happy, warm, fed and ALIVE at the end of these long days then you’re doing something right. Stay strong,