“It was the scariest five minutes of my life. I went into the hospital at 37 weeks pregnant because I felt slight pain in my stomach. Being 25 years old and having my first child, the words that followed changed my world forever. ‘We need to do an emergency C-section, and we need to do it now because two lives are on the line’. An EEG showed that my placenta was in distress and was about to erupt.
There I was, lying on the check-up room bed, having mentally prepared myself for a natural birth, and to bring my baby girl into this world my way, with my own plans, and in a split second that all changed. With that came a rush of anxiety, worry, and I was scared to death of what was about to happen.
I couldn’t stop crying. I called my partner, who was busy getting us food for the evening just down the hall, and told him to get to me immediately. After telling him what was about to happen, he stood there, like a ghost, not knowing what to say. He saw me, he grabbed me and held me, and told me it was going to be alright. I called my mom, my comfort, and I told her too. She started crying and with joy in her voice, said she could not wait to meet her first grandchild.
I was still trying to fathom the fact that my entire world was about to change. Nothing in this world can prepare you to become a first-time parent. No matter how many people you speak to, no matter how many books or articles or videos you watch, nothing can prepare you.
I was rushed into surgery, and I was surrounded by strange people in an ice-cold room telling me what to do, and my partner and gynae were the only familiar faces. I was still crying, I was scared, I was anxious. I didn’t know how to feel or what to do.
A few moments later, after the strangest feeling of having her taken out of me, she was there, crying and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I wasn’t able to hold her properly yet. She was taken away and I was left to wait. This made me feel even worse. She had been with me for nine months and then all of a sudden she was taken away from me, even though it would just be for a short while until I went down to my room.
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My daughter was here. Perfect and beautiful. My anxiety would not allow me to rest like I should, having her in my arms for the first time, I did not want to let her go. I put her on my breast for the first time to try and give my child some sustenance, but I wasn’t producing enough colostrum – I felt like the biggest failure in the world.
I couldn’t even give my child the one thing that my body was naturally meant to do. I’d failed. I felt like I wasn’t worthy. The next three days in hospital were like a slow torture. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t rest, and I was up every hour to go check on my baby. I still wasn’t producing enough milk, and they wanted to give her formula, which I didn’t want to do. However, my baby needed to eat something so on the third day before leaving, I caved and I allowed her to get some formula.
The doctors had put me on medication to help me produce milk and improve my mood. I spoke to my doctor who, after analysis of my anxiety and depression, advised that I had post partum depression and that it is totally normal and that a lot of women go through the same thing. She told me that the milk production medication would help boost my mood as well but it didn’t.
Depressed? How could I possibly be depressed? The best thing in my life just happened. I needed to get home and get out of this place – I thought this would make everything better.
I got home but still was not able to rest. Is she sleeping okay? Is she breathing? Is she comfortable? Has she eaten enough? All these thoughts flooded my brain like I was drowning. And then my feelings started to shift. I missed having time alone with my partner. I missed us being able to have a meal together and watching our favourite shows. I missed all the things I was able to do before becoming a mother.
I know this makes me seem like a terrible person and an even worse mom, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted my life to go back to normal. I spoke to my friends who had babies and they all told me these feelings would pass, that it was totally normal to feel this way and that I shouldn’t worry.
How could I feel this way? She was beautiful, the most amazing gift life had ever given me and I didn’t appreciate her the way that I should have. I felt alone. I was surrounded by a loving family and a partner who told me constantly that I was doing a great job but I felt useless.
I went back to my doctor and told her that the milk production tablets weren’t helping my mood, I explained how I felt, and she prescribed antidepressants. The medication helped to a certain extent. However, what really got me through was speaking to my friends who went through the same thing, and the thing that made me feel much better was my baby’s first smile. She knew me, knew that I was her mom and she was happy. That was the best feeling in the world.
Things went a lot better from then on, I stopped the tablets on my own because I didn’t want to be reliant on them, my milk production stopped as soon as those tablets finished and I decided to put her on formula, which honestly saved a part of me. Even though my doctor advised me to see a psychologist, I chose not to and tried to get through things with my own support system.
My daughter is almost seven months old now. She is beautiful, happy and the light of my life. Parenthood is no easy task and I hate myself some days for being the way I was, feeling what I felt. I really do wish I had known more about PPD, and had spoken to more people who went through what I did. I do believe that nothing can prepare you for it – or stop it from happening.
I want women to know they are not alone. I want them to know that going through this is more common than they think and that they should be able to share their stories and be able to feel normal. Today I feel more confident and happier, I have my bad moments but I know that every mom does. I wouldn’t change having her for the world. Things now couldn’t be better, we are learning each other, we have an incredible bond and I am in no need of medications or treatments at all.