Post Natal Depression (PND) was the furthest thing from my mind after having gone through fertility treatments and a successful IVF round. Throughout my pregnancy I was living in what I like to call a 'first time mother's bubble' and boy did that bubble pop!
After the birth of our son I decided to give breastfeeding a go as I’d heard about the benefits for baby and mum, I breastfed exclusively for 3 weeks with the help of the home midwives and child health nurse. I didn’t realise that my son had not regained his birth weight and was in dire need of supplement feeds. Throughout this time I was in a really dark place, the sound of my son crying would create horrible and graphic visual images in my mind of me harming him. I couldn't believe that my own mind was thinking something so dark. I had no intention of ever harming my baby but I just couldn't get the thought out of my head and with every scream it played on a loop in my mind.
The night before my husband returned to work I was up feeding my son and I started crying. I remember telling myself, 'You've nothing to cry over, don't be such a selfish bit--! Some women will never have a successful IVF.' Fast forward to the next morning I was all alone having convinced my husband I was fine. My son woke and started screaming, I just couldn't handle the sound of his screams anymore. I started pacing the hallway and called my mum for help. Within the hour my husband and I were at my GP and I had a referral for a psychologist along with a script for anti-depressants. I found the psychologist amazing and insightful and the anti-depressants helped me through the first 9 months until I weaned off them with the help of my GP.
Just over two years later our second man arrived this time without the help of IVF. I decided to put in place some strategies to try and reduce my chances of PND returning as I was told I had a higher chance of getting it again. This time I decided I would bottle feed from day one as I knew that was one of my personal triggers. I also spoke to my OB and GP who were on board and would be following up with me to ensure I was on the right path following the birth. Unfortunately the birth of my son became an emergency and he was admitted to special care for three weeks. My personal recovery from the birth was fantastic, much better than my first. What I didn't expect was the effect him being in special care would have on my mental health.
Over the three weeks that my son was in special care I experienced physical pain, dizziness, visual disturbances and headaches. No matter how many tests the doctors did they couldn’t find an explanation. At two weeks postpartum I was re admitted to hospital but there still weren’t any conclusions. They asked if I was upset and I firmly replied no. It was at this time that I broke down overnight in hospital, I looked up the symptoms and signs of PND again which confirmed my thoughts, it was back. After seeing my GP she explained that the brain can trick the body into thinking it's in pain and that for me my dizziness and headaches were part of my depression. I asked to be put back on the anti-depressants as they worked so well for me the first time.
After speaking to my GP I was told that I'm prone to depression and I'm okay with that as I know how to handle it now.
If you're reading this and you're having a hard time, you don't need to suffer in silence as there are so many great sources of help out there including professionals. I also encourage anyone else going through the swings of PND to be kind to yourself and to drop the high expectations that you put on yourself as a mother.
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