All I ever wanted to be growing up was a Mother, When I found out I was pregnant I felt like my life was about to turn into the direction I always imagined it would go. I had a very healthy pregnancy, and there was no reason to suspect that I would have any issues come the big day. After 3 days of stretched out labour I was at told both the baby and I were in distress and I would need an emergency C-section.
When Evelyn was born, I heard her cry and I cried from such joy and relief, but I was exhausted and next thing I knew they were forcing this thing onto my breast to feed, and left me to it. It was then that I realised, I felt no love, no bond with this tiny human. I had just been through the worst experience of my life I had slept approximately 5 hours in the last 72 and now my husband and I had been left alone to look after a baby with no guidance what so ever.
In the hospital I kept complaining of feeling like I was floating, like I wasn't connected to my body, I couldn't sleep, I barely ate, and instead of resting while Evelyn was sleeping all I did was stare at her and think “what have I done?” I asked the nurse to only give me Panadol for the pain, because I thought it was the medication, but nothing changed. I asked to leave the hospital 3 days after my surgery because I knew something wasn't right, and I thought going home would help me find my feet.
I should have known what was going on when I refused to sit in the back seat next to my newborn on her first car trip home, when I made an excuse not to hold her, when I kept leaving the room to just get away.I ended up in ED that night, because I literally couldn't feel my body. I felt like a brain floating in air, if I touched my two fingers together there was no sensation, and I would have to look down to see if they were touching.The ED doctor went through the usual tests to rule out infection, and then asked if I thought it was Postnatal Depression. As soon as she said those words I knew she was right.
I saw my Dr the next day and scored the highest possible score on the K10 test. She made a call to her colleague who is a psychologist and I was booked in for the next day, where I was officially diagnosed not only with PND but with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The feeling of disconnection from my body was a classic sign of PTSD. If I didn't have my husband at home for the next 6 weeks they told me they would have hospitalised me but after weekly visits I started to improve to the point where 6 weeks later when my Husband had to return to work, I found that I survived the day and I made it my goal just to get through one day, one week, one month at a time. About 6 months after Evelyn was born I had pretty much turned into the mother I always knew I could be and another 6 months after that it was then that I noticed that days would go by and the PND and PTSD didn't even cross my mind.
I am now pregnant again, 3 years after my daughter was born. I do have concerns about PND coming back, but now I know the signs and my Dr will keep a close eye on me, so I am confident that if it returns that it will not last as long, because PND isn't permanent, it does get better and before you know it, your through that dark place.
My advice to anyone in this position, is to seek help, don't suffer alone, take the medication, do what ever you have to do to make it easier, because there is no bravery award for doing it by yourself and suffering longer than you need to. It will pass, I know it feels like it will never end, but it will.
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"I felt no love, no bond with this tiny human. I had just been through the worst experience of my life. I had slept for approximately 5 hours in the last 72 and now my husband and I had been left alone to look after a baby with no guidance what so ever."
May 2017 Rowena gave birth to her second baby >
For a long time I struggled to decide if I wanted to have another baby, all the what if’s? The maybes. But I am so glad I did.
My Son Thomas was born May 2017. I had opted for another C-section, as I was avoiding as much as possible, anything that may trigger the PND again. My pregnancy was generally smooth, but as his birthdate edged closer I began to feel more and more worried about the potential for the PND to return. I calmed my thoughts as much as I could and reminded myself of a favourite quote, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo F. Buscaglia
If I was to have PND again, then worrying about it now wasn’t going to make any difference to the outcome, in fact it would likely make it more of a possibility. The things we worry about and build up in our mind often have a way of becoming exactly what we fear. So I went on day to day, week to week, enjoying Evelyn and watching her grow into a confident, feisty and fantastic little girl.
The day arrived, I went to hospital in the early hours to prepare for my C-section, I was so at ease and excited to finally meet the little jumping bean inside me. As I was wheeled down to theatre the nerves set in.
What if it happens again and I can’t be there for him and Evelyn? What if it’s worse and I end up in a mental facility? What if I can’t cope? Thankfully, it was go, go, go and I was chatting to the Doctors the whole time, then next thing I know I hear crying. He was here. And all of a sudden I realised I felt nothing but Joy. I was so happy, and when we went to recovery and they placed him on my breast, he fed so well, I found that it came more naturally this time and the distance I had felt with Evelyn when she arrived was the opposite of what I felt now.
Thomas is 8 months now, and he is such a happy little boy. Evelyn dotes on him and loves helping him play with his toys. I sit back with a tear in my eye, wondering how I got so blessed with two amazing children.
Don’t get me wrong it’s hard with two and some days it’s a struggle to get some peace, but I know in my heart of hearts this was the right move to make.
If you’re sitting on the fence about having another baby, because you’re worried about a relapse, then I want to encourage you that it may not happen, it didn’t for me. You could even call PANDA’s Helpline to discuss your concerns.