Founder & Treasurer
After experiencing difficulties all the way through my pregnancy, including being told to consider termination, I gave birth to a small (5lb 9oz) but fairly healthy baby girl. While in hospital my daughter spent brief spells in the Special Care Baby Unit while I was on the main maternity ward.
I knew I was struggling with adapting to motherhood from about 4-6 weeks but people, including a GP, said it was “just baby blues” and would pass shortly.
At 6 weeks the health visitor came to do the Edinburgh Scale. I knew her through my job and, given our professional relationship, I was careful with my answers and scored low on the scale.
I went out of the house doing things morning, afternoons and early evenings – anything so I wasn’t alone with my baby and had other people around me.
When my mother-in-law came round she’d offer to take my daughter for a walk and I would jump at the chance. I’d feed her and send her off, getting into bed and sleeping until I could hear they were back. Some people spoke of ringing their parents up anxiously the first time they took their child out of the house, so was I a bad mum for this?
I’d go on walks and look at railway lines and wonder what would happen if I jumped. I wanted to get in my car and go, by myself. In my mind I planned my escape route. I would take hardly anything; leave my baby in a safe place near a road or with family and just drive. I made up my own new world in my head where I could sleep and be happy again and not have to worry about a thing; go back to my ‘old life’ before I had a child.
At about 12 weeks, I completely broke down. I hated my life. Sleep deprivation was setting in and I was not myself. After a few days, lots of sleep and 24 hour care from people who helped to look after me and my baby, I started to feel a bit brighter. My daughter was ill with stomach cramps and appeared permanently in pain. We both ended up at the doctors, my daughter was lactose intolerant and was put on special formula. I scored 27 out of 30 in the same test I’d taken weeks before and was diagnosed with postnatal depression.
I realised that some of the expectations I put on myself were unreal. I wouldn’t let my daughter watch any TV and when one of my colleagues asked why we had a discussion and it made me aware of what I was doing. My health visitor did some fantastic 1:1 sessions which gave me some perspective. It was really hard but I slowly started to get ‘me’ back.
What I can say now looking back is that I feel very strongly that if I had been able to go somewhere regularly for support, and have someone to talk to who understood what I was saying or thinking, I don’t know if I would have dipped as low as I did.
Unfortunately the strain of PND affected my relationship with my little girls dad and we separated, which has caused its own issues as a single mum. I would urge anyone to get support.
The people I have met along the way, from mums and dads coming to the group to other professionals, or PND suffers, have helped to make me a stronger and better person. It opened my eyes up and made me realise it’s hard work being a mum and going through PND is tough, but over time it does get better. I love my daughter so much and couldn’t imagine being without her.