It was a Wednesday evening when my husband asked how the day had gone. “Horribly” I replied “I have had no patience with our son, I’ve felt disconnected, had racing thoughts, felt moody, guilty and exhausted – I don’t know what is wrong with me”. And I didn’t. Until later that night when I recalled the last time I had felt that way.
So I took a test (the only kind that really matters). Sure enough two pink lines. I was delighted, and I let myself revel in that delight for sometime. But I knew that this time my first port of call would be to the psychiatrist. Because already I recognised the anxious and intrusive thoughts in my mind – familiar thoughts that had dogged my previous pregnancy, thoughts which been swept away and shrugged off until Postnatal Depression hit me like a truck just hours after labour. My psychiatrist agreed that increasing my medication was a sensible course of action.
Already in myself I can feel the difference second time around – I’m calmer and more steady but equally I am cautious. I am not living in an idealised dreamland of what parenthood might bring – I am all too aware of how the early baby days felt for me. How I lost who I was and felt completely estranged from the life I was living. It is hard to say if I will suffer at the hands of PND again but it is a looming spectre in my pregnancy which I try to ignore because dwelling on it only gives it power and makes its possibility ever more likely.
I worry about the usual things; about how my firstborn will feel when he becomes a big brother – I pray that he doesn’t feel pushed out or abandoned in those early days. I worry about how I will cope with a toddler who frequently wakes in the night and a newborn, about how tandem feeding will work.
Shortly after I had my son (and before I had started my medication) I remember thinking that women must be mad to put themselves through rearing a new-born more than once. I actually recall feeling angry with women who had multiple children for their part in selling the lie that having children was a blessing. I remember sitting in the doctors’ waiting room with tears streaming down my face silently raging at a mother of two who seemed so calm, so happy, so in control – I hated the myth she was perpetuating. Another woman remarked on how beautiful my son was. I wanted to punch her. She saw my tear stained face and turned away. I was a mess, a mess who was sure she would never want anymore children. So I know that that far away version of me, the one who believed she would never be happy again, would want to shake me and ask what the hell I think I’m doing. A small doubting part of me feels the same.
But. The woman in that waiting room is not me, for she has not yet experienced the enormity of recovery and the hope that it holds. She does not yet trust in her family, her friends and her doctors to guide her back to the light, to feel the sun warming her skin and the rushes of love that will soon overwhelm. She has suffered silently, she has worn down over time, she has become a prisoner of her own anxieties.
I am not her today.
Today I am a woman who owns her mental health battles. I am a woman who will take all the support she can get. I am a woman who acknowledges the possibility of antenatal and postnatal depression and says so what? I have beaten you once and I can do it again. So I know I might bang on about it, I might bore my friends and family to tears, I might write one too many blogs about mental health and motherhood, I might just be a broken record. But this time I am pulling out all of the stops to try and keep this demon at bay.
And if it does come I’m not just going to be ready for it. I’m going to kick its arse.
34 year old mum of one with another on the way. Currently negotiating tantrum territory whilst contemplating how on earth I will cope with a newborn too!
Yoga loving, chocolate addicted chatterbox passionate about telling the truth about motherhood and mental health.