This photo was taken on my husband’s birthday. I was waiting in the car with my son while my husband, Domenic, had a ride in a Ferrari – a birthday gift I promised him. The weather was beautiful and we planned to go out for lunch afterwards. My son was three months old. I was smiling in the photo and without a doubt I tried to be happy on that day, but behind that smile was a very tired and very depressed mum.
I remember the night before; I sat up staring at the ceiling while my son was in his bassinet next to me, grunting but sleeping like a little piglet. I was praying that he would let me sleep that night. Begging to whatever angel or god or whoever was out there that was listening that he would just give me 4 hours straight. Even though he slept, I stayed awake. I began wondering what it meant to be a mum, if this was my life now, if staying awake all night pleading with the darkness that my son would sleep, while I could hear Domenic snoring on the couch. That’s where he had been for the last 3 months. I wondered in that moment if this was as good as it was going to get. ‘What have I done?’ I thought to myself, while I cried hard into my pillow as to not wake my son up. This tiny little human had so much power over me. He made me feel vulnerable, inadequate, exhausted, depressed, joyful, all at once. The biggest feeling I couldn’t shake was regret. In that moment I regretted becoming a mother. I felt like I couldn’t do it.
We went for the long drive to the track where my husband’s joy ride was going to be. I remember being obsessed with my son’s sleep. I would calculate in my head and hoping the more hours he would do, the more of the possibility that he would sleep better at night.
I remember we went to a café and I was trying so hard to pretend I was okay for my husband but all I wanted to do was burst into tears. I was afraid to feed my baby, afraid I was being watched. Afraid of the night to come. Afraid the day would be over and I would be alone once again with my baby in the dark with my blinds drawn wishing the day would be over.
When I look at the photo it is a reminder of how far I have come. I asked for help. I admitted my worries and my dark thoughts. I accepted the help. I became resilient. I was admitted to a mother baby unit. I sought counselling, I went to support groups, I joined playgroups. I fell deep into that hole and I dug my way back out. I did it. Now I stare at my two little children, giggling at each other in delight, and I find myself smiling too. I am proud of them. They now make me feel strong, like I am enough, rested, and overwhelmed with happiness and love. I never thought I would get to this place, but here I am now, happy to be a mother.
"Sometimes after a feed, I lie in bed at night, around 4am and thoughts start to trickle through my head. I cannot exactly control them, even though I try not think think about it. I call them little gifts from anxiety…"