This day, 2 years ago, I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter, and this was one day before boarding a 24 hr flight from Toronto to Sydney. Technically I was not allowed to fly that late. Even my Canadian doctor at the time advised against it. I went to see her a week before my flight to get a doctor’s certificate saying I could travel and she outright refused. I wasn’t surprised but more hopeful that she would, but she didn’t. A big part of me wanted to stay, and tempted to stay and give birth in Canada. I love Australia, but there was a part of me that didn’t want to come back. I was homesick. My family and friends missed the birth of my first born and now they were going to miss the second. The thought often depressed me. Plus, I was not looking forward to coming back to living with extended families. My in laws are actually very nice, but sharing a space with them was/ is hard. I was secretly hoping to be denied at departure. Oops! I didn’t know you can’t travel at 8 months prenatal. But I knew I couldn’t do it to hubby. His heartbreak of missing the kids outweighed my selfish thoughts. So I doned a flowy empire waisted dress and hid it well enough to board our flight.
I never admitted to hubby, though he will soon find out from this post, that I did in fact have postpartum depression. I never told him because I knew there was not much he could do. I had no way of explaining it without sounding like a complete selfish bitch. I have read about it, I was aware of it, and I even knew to expect it. I thought I was prepared, but nothing could have prepared me for it. The emotions were… chaotic. I don’t know if it is only mothers that can relate, but the moment the nurse hands you that baby… everything that was ever painful, or dark, or confusing, or anything that you were ever unsure of, was made so crystal clear. Your very purpose, was and is now for these precious little hands and feet. This painfully sweet emotion deep in your soul is so profound and so wild, yet you understand it all so clearly. You get it now. You think true love is meeting your partner? Maybe it is for some, but no, it’s not. True love, is meeting your child for the first time.
The moment was interrupted when I had to push a second time. Hubby had already informed his family of the grand news, when my placenta was making it’s birthing debut. I don’t blame him. His excitement was natural and I reluctantly agreed to it. So not long after that, the whole family was in my delivery room. We live 10 minutes from the hospital so it was quick. I was still covered in blood, my face was still burning hot from the popped capillaries (from all the pushing), and physically I was drained. All I wanted to do was hold my baby. The one I carried for nine months and went through all that pain for. I wanted our own time. Our special time. I didn’t want to have to share every – single – moment of his life with everyone else. Besides his dad of course. I know he is undoubtedly a part of them and they will be a big part of his life, and that’s fine. But it all happened so soon and so quickly. I felt a complete loss of control, not from being a new mother, but from being forced to share something that was so dear and precious to me. We were all obsessed with this baby and I get it. I understood why they were the way they were, but that didn’t stop it from hurting. Every day, I was forced to bring him down to them and when I didn’t they would come up. I was fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed with no problems so that was really the only time I didn’t have to share him. That was until he took the bottle, so they could have a turn feeding him. I was able to rationalize some of those negative thoughts, because realistically, getting him on the bottle meant hubby and I can go on date nights again (even though we’d be looking at his photos or talking about him anyways).
I avoided hubby’s grandma during the day, but instead it gave her incentives to exercise because she would walk up the stairs to come see us. So I’d feel bad and bring him down to her instead. Then she would tell me to leave him with her and go get some sleep. Go lie down. As if I can sleep! This is my first child and he’s only a few weeks old, surely I can’t be the only one with attachment issues! That was probably her favourite line. My conscience was constantly at battle. While I was so extremely annoyed and irritated about having to give him up a few times a day, I also felt terribly guilty and bad that my mil worked undeniably hard and getting to hold him after work was the light at the end of her day. How can I be so cruel to take that away from her? It was a daily effing battle. Every. Single. Damn. Day.
I mean it all worked out in the end. As mental as I was, I somehow managed to reason myself out of some horrible feelings. I cried to myself. I cried in the shower. I cried when I was breastfeeding, looking at my baby and asking him not to think his mama was crazy. Eventually, I cried to friends. Things got ugly sometimes, but miraculously I made it. Not much has changed really. We are still all living together, and sharing the love of a big family as you would, but the only difference now is I say whatever is on my mind when it appears and how it appears. Sometimes it comes off quite disrespectful, but I know how I intended it, and that’s enough for me.
I don’t have any real advice for postpartum depression other than, speak out. Tell someone. Being able to offload your feelings will help you make sense of them. Most importantly, reach out for help.