After putting up my first blog post excitedly, I realised I had just admitted to all my friends/ family on Facebook (who read it) I have Post Natal Depression. Do I regret it? I don’t think so… I’m usually a fairly private person, I don’t like to tell all on Facebook and my mental health is very personal. However one of my highest values is honesty and genuineness. So there you have it, I’m being very honest; this is me at the moment, I find looking after a baby – HARD.
I’m currently doing this online 28 day Tame your temper challenge. (Jackie Hall – Parental Stress Centre) One of the main things that has stood out to me so far is that all depression/ stress / anxiety occur when your reality doesn’t meet your expectation. For me this has certainly been the case with having a 2nd baby. I am a realist, I’m not a dreamer, but somehow my expectation of having another baby was not quite fitting with what it’s been like.
When my first child was born it was a very difficult time in my life. I was under huge amounts of stress and she was very unsettled. It was so difficult to deal with what was going on as well as have a crying baby who also didn’t sleep easily. But I put it down to circumstances and stress.
Fast forward 10 years, wonderful new husband and home, everything set for a baby (except perhaps apprehension from my distant memory of what babies are like) and I expected an easy, quiet baby who would sleep. Not my reality! Pregnancy was hell for the final 10 weeks – physically (I have never felt worse). Good birth, but then challenging from then on. She would cry and demand to get what she needed, she still does. The night we got home from the hospital, I thought I would finally get a good night sleep in my own bed… Not my reality, she screamed the house down for hours. We didn’t know what to do. I was physically exhausted from birth and hardly any sleep in the hospital, it was a horrible night. And this went on for the next 6 weeks. All in the time I needed to recover. I was learning to breastfeed again and she was a piranha! Breastfeeding is not easy & does not come naturally! She was feeding all the time as it was the only thing that would stop her from crying. It was exhausting. She would only sleep for 20-40 minutes at a time during the day if we put her down, if we held her she would sleep for longer, I found that difficult. I didn’t want to hold her all the time. I felt so restricted, not being able to do anything besides care for my baby. Some days I didn’t wash my face, do my hair, get dressed and forget about make up. We were told it would get easier at 6 weeks, it did a little, but not much, 12 weeks came and went and it was still bloody hard! At every age we expected things to change dramatically, they didn’t. It’s been a slow process. At 3 ½ months I went to stay at Tresillian, Family Care Centre – where they help you to settle your baby and get them into a better routine. This helped, but was not the miracle I wanted. I’ve found it hard to carry on what they taught me.
She is now 6 months and I’ve just had a battle to re-settle her after her trademark 30 minute sleep. I do not have much tolerance to to re-settle her. Her crying really upsets me, at times I get really angry. I’ve just been getting her up after her mini sleeps and then putting her back to bed between 1-2 hours later, this goes on all day. In her life she has had about 6 sleeps over 2 hours long, during the day in her cot. Occasionally now she will sleep for a 1- 1 ½ hours, this seems to occur every few days which is an improvement! YAY!!!
In saying all of this, I have struggled to accept I have PND as I’ve wondered who wouldn’t feel down and exhausted when dealing with this situation? I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in over 6 months! Everyone tells you, sleep deprivation is a form of torture – Yes it’s true. But I am managing. My wonderful husband for the past few weeks has been feeding our sweetheart each night (formula), late at night so I can get a better block of sleep. Last night I slept from about 11-5am – I feel amazingly better when I get sleep. I really think more men should do this for their partners. It makes such a difference. Why is it expected that the women should give birth, feed the baby, miss out on sleep etc. Why do we expect this of ourselves? I have found it a little hard to accept my husband will do this, as he is working, but he has assured me again and again, that we need to look after me. And I now realise, damn straight we do, my mental health is important and influences this family hugely. My job is not less important than his. My wellbeing and sleep is not less important than his. I’m looking after our baby and I need to be well!
It’s an up & down roller coaster, I am trying daily to accept this is how it is. I realise how fortunate I am to have a healthy, strong, alert & amazing baby. And one thing I keep on saying is; it’s lucky she’s so damn cute!