Today, Thursday 10 March, is my sweet Maggie’s second birthday.
I’ve gone and done the whole shebang; chosen perfect presents for her that not only will be loved and age appropriate, but also halt some of the fights with her sister about who owns what. I’ve made a bloody IKEA play kitchen until 1am, and created a ‘party tea’ for us all after her sister gets home from school.
I’ve wrapped presents with expensive paper and double sided tape because I learnt on a YouTube clip that it looks SO much neater, and regardless of how quickly she will tear it all off it matters that it looks special for her when she first clamps eyes on her haul. I’ve turned the living room into a balloon fiesta because despite me loathing balloons with all my might she adores them. I’m whoopy, and excited, and smiley, and loud. I’ve played tea parties, I’ve cooked on a 2ft play stove, I’ve rocked her new baby, and I’ve put together six jigsaws. I’ve spun her around and squealed and laughed and been a tickle monster and all of those things that a Mum should do and be on her daughter’s – her baby’s – 2nd birthday.
But inside, I’m sobbing. Inside, I’m stifling gulps and hefty heaves of tears.
I’m sobbing for the time that was lost to PND, for the guilt, the remorse of the first two years of her life that has brought us to this moment; this lovely, celebratory day. I’m sobbing because she is likely, very likely, to be the last baby because I can’t put my girls, my family, ME, through that shit-fest again. And I’m sobbing because I’ve been in such a fog of anxiety and depression for so long that I hadn’t taken on board how much she was growing, and how quickly. It felt as though I’d had her – blinked – and suddenly; she was TWO. The Big TWO.
No one talks about the ‘Post PND’ phase. Everyone talks about Treatment, and then Getting Better, and then The Light At The End Of The Tunnel. But no one talks about how you will feel post-recovery. They don’t tell you that you might never get back to being you. YOU changes, you morph, bend, acquiesce and accept PND, you get angry and you regret and then you make peace but it doesn’t last that long before the guilt smacks you bang upside your head.
Motherhood is full of the Guilts on a normal, ordinary day, never mind when you have checked out of so much because of the darkness and loneliness of depression and anxiety. And you don’t get over PND all of a sudden; it’s not like one day I woke up and thought ‘THANK FUCK FOR THAT’ and felt instantly back to me. It’s something that a lot of sufferers carry with them for years, an indelible mark on your heart that signifies you are a fully paid-up member of the PND Club.
For Life. Because getting over PND means accepting the guilt that ensues for missing out on so much, for the anger, for the self-loathing, for the darkness, and for the detachment. It means moving on, but that’s so hard when your greatest fear is how it has affected your children.
I don’t know how, but she is the most sunny, lovely, loving and funny little girl. She is an early talker and my goodness, how she talks! She is a non-stop chatterbox. She fills a room with her love, her smile, and her warmth. She is cheeky, mischievous and so bright. She loves Peppa, she loves babies, she loves ‘choclat’, ice cream and monkeys…
… And cake, which I’m going to now go and cut a big slice of and celebrate this, her Big Two birthday, without sobbing. Because most of all, and despite it all, she loves ME.
About Kate Dyson
Founder of The Motherload®. Wife, mum to two girls, two cats and shit loads of washing in baskets that sit around the house waiting to be ironed. It never happens.
Hater of exercise, denier of weight gain, lover of wine.
If you have experience similar PND symptoms, feelings and emotions as mentioned in the article by Kate, you can seek support and information through our dedicated page for Post Natal Depression, PND & Me.