“I actually deleted every single photo of myself with my son in the labour ward and searched to find a photo of us together with him as a newborn as I was usually the one behind the camera rather than infront of it’
I remember looking at the midwife in amusement as she told me to start talking to my growing bump in order to help me bond with my baby. Pregnant, naive, I carried on with life as normal, working hard, hitting the gym and planning my 3 months of Maternity leave with meticulous detail, and assuming that labour would be a breeze. When I gave birth to my son, I felt nothing but overwhelming sadness and fear. As my husband cooed over our newborn, I racked my brain, trying to find my mothers instinct that must’ve been hiding somewhere. I felt traumatised by labour, but ashamed by my lack of love and how un-natural it felt to have a baby sucking on my chest.
Anxiety popped up out of nowhere and created panic-induced episodes at the mere thought of the nights ahead. Each evening was spent dreading the lack of sleep and not knowing when or how my son would get through the night. I felt as though I was a failure as a mother, a friend, a wife and a colleague and put on a brave face whilst I battled with a baby, a full time job, a marriage and a house to run. My emotions were all over the place, and I began to shy away from friendships and social situations so that I didn’t put myself in a position to be judged. At 8 months postpartum, I discovered online counselling and got the diagnosis I had been dreading… Postnatal Depression
. I read a few self-help books, googled a bit, and thought I could cure myself! I crumbled.
I was being followed around by a big black cloud, and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. At my sons 12 month checkup I was able to answer all his developmental questions with ease, but broke down when asked how I was coping? My health visitor called my GP and asked for an emergency appointment, and I was seen that afternoon. I started taking medication, and made the big decision to cut my hours down at work to try and give me the best possible chance to fight this horrible illness.
Twelve months on, I’m feeling better than ever, still on a low dose of meds, but loving being a mum, and taking a career-break where I am working a part time job with no-stress, excercising my body and mind, and exploring the exciting world of social media to share my story.
If, like Emma, you would like to share your maternal mental health story to help The Every Mum Movement
to empower every mum to take care of their maternal mental health, please contact hello@everymummovement for more details on how to be involved in the One Mum 4 Every Mum feature.