It is always harder to write a blog when it comes to things that concern my children. They are my life, my reason for breathing, my reason for wanting to help change the world so that they can grow up in a safer, more understanding society. A society where you can talk about anything, especially how you are feeling, whether you are old or young, boy or girl.
Thing is, how do you get rid of the gut wrenching guilt that has clouded you since the very first day you found out you were pregnant? The first thing you thought was not how happy you were but how scared you were. How you knew you couldn’t do this. How you were barely capable of looking after yourself, never mind a baby!
That is how my story starts and is something I have struggled to deal with ever since.
Let’s go back, I was 19 years old. I had moved over 70 miles away from my hometown in Chester-Le-Street to Harrogate. I upped and left everything and everyone for a lad I hadn’t really been seeing for very long. The fear of the unknown though was more appealing than the life I was living at the time. I needed to escape. So, I did. It was very much a whirlwind, I was away from home for less than a year when I found out I was pregnant. I panicked. Selfishly, I had only just tasted freedom. I was only just living for myself for the first time in my life and just like that, I was going to be back to having to put someone else first.
They talk about post-natal depression, and I will talk in a moment about that as I can be honest now and say a lot of my problems stemmed from me suffering once my daughter was born. But what people fail to mention and help you with is when you are clearly struggling when you are pregnant. Looking back, it was completely obvious I was struggling, badly. I treated myself and my unborn baby appallingly. I was in a hellish place, yet I felt so stuck and so alone. I had no voice at all. I had to do what I do best, what I had done all my life up to that point and stick a massive fake smile on my face and pretend everything was A OK. It was very far from OK. I felt like all my decisions were being made for me and I had no say in my own life. I just got dragged along this terrifying pathway into motherhood. One I had never expected to be on. Family, marriage and children had never been on my radar. I wanted a career. I wanted to travel. Now, I felt like I was constantly tied in a straight jacket. Just nodding and shaking my head at the allocated points needed to show I was still a semi functioning human.
9 month later, my beautiful daughter was born, 4 days early weighing a tiny 6lb 6oz. 2 days before my 20th birthday.
You read about these overwhelming emotions of love and adoration and all the rest. I waited. I expected to feel it straight away. It didn’t happen. Ok, maybe I am just tired. It will come once I have had some sleep, I had been in labour for 72 hours after all. No. It never came. I waited days, weeks, months. That “new mam” feeling just didn’t surface. I did love her, she was part of me. I was incredibly protective, I didn’t want anyone else to go near her. The feelings of jealousy when anyone was holding her were insane. Yet, at the same time I didn’t want to be with her either. It was an internal struggle and the noise in my head was insane.
I went back to working 48 hour weeks when she was only 5 month old, I started drinking a lot. Far too much. I started to rebel. I wanted a life. I couldn’t handle a baby. I was a terrible mother. What kind of mother didn’t want to be near such a gorgeous baby who was no bother at all? This cycle went on for years. She was a good sleeper, she was happy and content. Yet I couldn’t take any credit for this as I just had no interest. I went through the motions as I was scared someone would take her off me. Which considering how I actually felt was quite ironic.
I lied to everyone. I lied on the health visitor’s questionnaire. I lied to all the health care professionals. I was telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. Yet inside I was screaming. I just wanted someone to call me out and tell me they knew I was lying. But no one ever did.
It got so bad, I felt so out of control, so lost, so worthless and such a disgusting human being for the way I felt, it was at this time that I decided my daughter would be better off without me. I needed to leave her with people who could give her all the love and the support and happy life that she deserved. I had a very difficult childhood myself for many reasons, her Dad had had a very different experience. It made sense to take me out of her equation and leave her to grow up like her Dad had. So, I got very drunk, argued with my daughter’s dad, locked myself in the bathroom and the next thing I remember is a lot of blood and being rushed to the hospital in a police car.
Was it a wake-up call? Eventually yes, after the soul-destroying feelings of disappointment at still being alive waned. Did I suddenly have an epiphany and dote on my daughter? Sadly, no. Although love slowly and steadily grew over time, it took many years to have what I would class as a mother-daughter relationship. The thing I must deal with now, which became very apparent after the birth of my son, is just how different our relationship is. She is very much a daddy’s girl. He is her universe. And for many reasons he deserves to be. He has adored her from the minute I confirmed I was pregnant. I just hope it is not too late to salvage some sort of true bond before she flies the nest and becomes anything she wants to be.
They may not have been in my “plan” but I am very lucky to have my children, who I do truly love with all my heart. I would die for them. I want to be a better person because of them. I want them to see there is good in this world. That they can be anything they want to be. I will always be their number one supporter.
My daughter is so beautiful, so kind, so very clever. Despite everything she has had to deal with in her 13 years of life, she is so resilient and balanced. I worry as she has my way of bottling things up and just trying to deal with everything herself, but I am so proud and so in awe of her bravery, of not letting anyone dictate to her how she should think. She sticks by what she believes in.
Post-natal depression is no joke. I applaud everyone who is speaking out about this and putting themselves out there to raise awareness. To highlight the flaws in the system and what needs to be done. Thank you to those who are supporting the people who suffer and helping them realise, it is like any other illness. It is not your fault. You are a good person and a good mother/father. It is your illness telling you otherwise. You can beat this, I promise.
I ask you, please, reach out. Tell someone that you are struggling. You are not alone, you don’t have to struggle alone. Be honest. Take that soul crushing weight off your shoulders.