Post Natal Something
I’ve been reading a lot of posts about mental health and motherhood recently. People that have had no mental health problems, suddenly feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope. It got me to thinking, I’ve always been 100% sure that there has never been anything wrong with me, that I’ve never had a mental health issue, until I had baby number two.
I realised that I knew what I was doing, I was calmer, happier and I feel like a better mother. At first I thought that every mother must feel like this, it’s the obvious thing, for you to be better second or third time around as you’ve already learnt what to do. Thinking into it more, it wasn’t that I didn’t know what I was doing or that I didn’t love my baby, because I did; it was probably that I couldn’t cope with my single life being behind me, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mother, I wasn’t sure I was ready. I think I was mourning my pre-motherhood life.
When she was as young as four months old I was back working in our business that we’d just expanded with no thought to how young the baby was. We were extremely lucky, we had a big support network namely my husband’s parents, so at the time it never felt like I was doing anything wrong as she was being cared for by family who loved her as much as we did. Some weekends when my husband was working I’d drive to my parents and let them look after her while I met friends, or went out with friends, sometimes I didn’t even go out, it was more about the help and the baby getting much more attention than I felt she got with me. Not long after this, after my maternity leave finished, I went back to my job, no stress or worry, just back to work like usual.
For two years I had been working full time, doing over 60 hours per week, not even realising I hadn’t factored into my life that we had a young child now. Perhaps I got home at night to put her to bed, then for me to fall asleep straight after her. Perhaps I got weekends with her, watching films all Saturday and out seeing people for something to do on the Sunday. No real time playing in her house. Always either at grandparents or at nursery.
I have so much regret and it makes me wonder how for that long I didn’t even think. I was half doing it for the money, half trying not to admit I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted a career, my job and my industry refused you to juggle and have any sort of work life balance. I never stopped to think about changing job or changing career, perhaps I had mentally blocked out what was best for her in favour in what was best for me, believing I still could.
I remember freaking out at one point and it was round about the time my friend got me a book, this one. It was I suppose in a way, a self help book, but I didn’t think it read like a self help book. It really helped me with what I was doing and made me stop to think about what I wanted and what my eldest needed. I was pregnant at this point, and I had already decided that I couldn’t go back to my job having realised I was working too much, it helped me realise that I shouldn’t be, for my life as well as my childrens, but it wasn’t until now that I see why I was working so much.
I have been off with her for almost 9 months now, 8 months of which has had our second in tow, and how bad I feel for the past two years I’ll never forget. I now feel like the mother I should have been 4 years ago, and it’s a shame I had to wait 4 years and a second child to see it. I wonder if this is a problem that other mothers face or if it’s just me. Putting it out there for all to see that someone who has categorically had no mental health issues, probably has. Also putting it out there that this is not what post natal depression is normally described as, but it was something, there was something not right. I’m so glad I see it now, and the reason I didn’t see it until now is because I looked so fine on the outside that no one else noticed either. Only now that I have another baby. It makes me freak out about this quite a lot now, trying to take back the years or wonder if anything's not perfect if it was because I was so absent.
Take care of yourselves; first baby, second baby, third baby, it’s a time of pure emotional turmoil and you’ve no idea how your brain is going to rationalise it. What is normal anyway? Talking helps.
Photo Credit - Audrey Russell Photography www.audreyrussellphotography.com