I sit in the comfortable leather chair, feet reclined, and try to count my blessings. A single salty tear runs down my cheek, and then another until my vision begins to blur. Through the baby monitor I can hear him crying again and I know that I must go to him. But I don’t want to. The tears begin to cascade down my face now, as I stand, trying to blink and compose myself.
I grab some toilet paper and blow my nose, because we have run out of tissues. It feels scratchy but I don’t care. I go into his room and I pick him up, making gentle soothing sounds as I try not to let my tears soak into his sleep suit.
We sit down in the chair and I unclip my singlet to offer the only comfort that I really know how to offer. He takes it. I wish I’d brought the toilet paper with me, because now my nose is dripping on him as well as my tears. I turn my face away and grab one of his t-shirts to wipe my eyes and nose with. I feel ashamed for doing this, but I will wash the t-shirt tomorrow. I love him so very much; this tiny human. But I also just want him to go away. I cry harder as I admit this to myself. I feel like I have lost who I am. I haven’t slept properly for over a week now, and I’m not very rational or nice to be around. I start to wonder if maybe my family would be better off without me around. Maybe they’d be happier. I shoo this thought away as I know deep down that this isn’t true. I’m feeling very confused; how can I love someone so much and yet want them to go away so much as well? I must be a bad mother. A shitty human. I feel sorry that this baby has me for a mum. I feel like I can’t do anything right.
Then he looks up at me with those little eyes and I melt inside again. I touch his cheek as he closes his eyes and goes to sleep, then I place him down in his cot gently and go to bed without a shower again. This is the shadow time. I’d like it to go away now. Post natal depression is dark and real and awful. It robs you of everything.
I lie in bed and I can’t sleep, but I close my eyes anyway and hope tomorrow might be better.
This was written on a particularly difficult evening, when things indeed were very dark. I got in touch with postnatal depression network here in Nelson, and I joined a support group. That group allowed me to connect with other mums in a nurturing, healing environment (with trained facilitators) and we’ve remained in touch. If you can relate to the feelings expressed in my story, then please do reach out to someone; you aren’t alone, and it does get better!
© Bec Duff and Crying Over Spilt Milk Gastric Reflux Support Network New Zealand for Parents of Infants and Children Charitable Trust March 2020.
One of the risk factors for post-natal depression, is ongoing stress. A baby who spills a lot, vomits, screams or is otherwise unwell is an ongoing stress and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa say this on their website “Parents who get the support and help that they need with parenting are more relaxed and better able to look after their children. If the mother or father is mentally unwell, extra support is essential to help with their recovery, and we encourage anyone to seek advice from a GP, Midwife, or Plunket nurse in the first instance.” https://pada.nz/support-services-helplines-national-helplines-2/ – Jenny and Roslyn