Health and Wellbeing, that time of the month

That time of the month – Cracks in the mask of motherhood

November 20, 2015

postnatal awareness

This is the third installment in my “That Time Of The Month” series, where I look at interesting and pressing women’s’ issues.

You loved “7 Ways You Can Be Better In Bed” if you want to recap.

I didn’t suffer from postnatal depression, thankfully.

I remember when I was at mother’s group with D Man. I think it was my first one, so he was about 6 weeks old or something – That age where they all still look a bit like plucked chickens that could explode from either end and anytime.

Like a chook grenade.

Mother’s group is generally for first time mums, cos let’s face it, getting there with a toddler in tow is virtually impossible so it is a safe assumption that we all had as little idea about what the hell we were doing as each other.

We sat in a large, weary, milk stained circle and we went around the room one by one talking about where we were at with our parenting experience. We were mostly having versions of the same thing. Some seemed more upbeat, some seemed drained, other’s seemed pretty pissed off with the whole endless boobing business.

I went quite early in the piece and said my bit.

Sleeping – normal in that he wakes up to feed all the time and I feel like a zombie.

Feeding – normal in that he is permanently attached to a nipple and I can’t get a single other thing done, and my jugs hurt and my nips hurt and did I mention I was tired?

Nappies – Oh my god, the nappies. The prodigious amounts of mustard coloured projectile baby poo that was staining my duvet, my clothes and my couch (I never did believe in change tables. I now see they have a place.)

Otherwise, things were cool. Fine. Situation normal.

The I sat there for the next hour or so listening to other women talking about their experience. I wasn’t so fond of this mother’s group experience, in fact, I found it rather painful, however, one mum sticks in my head.

“She doesn’t like me,” she said of her squalling child. “My baby doesn’t like me and I don’t feel connected to her. She cries all the time and I don’t know what to do with her. Maybe one day we’ll have the relationship that I hoped for.”

postnatal awareness

At the time, I thought WOW. That’s intense. And then I went about my foggy way in the grey zone.

Now, I realise that she was reaching out and expressing that she didn’t feel like she was coping. I don’t know if she had postnatal depression but now that I know a little more about it I realise that that single sentence is fairly bang-on consistent with someone on the edge.

Feelings of failure, feelings of lack of control, feelings of intense sadness.

I was the first of my friends to have a baby so I didn’t actually know much about postnatal depression. I didn’t know that it affects 1 in 7 women, and I didn’t know how often it goes unnoticed for so long.

I didn’t know that it’s actually really treatable.

I have had a couple of chats with the CEO of PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia), Terri, Smith, and what strikes me about her is she is really passionate about perinatal mental health, and she’s really proud of the brilliant work PANDA does every day. When she speaks about her team on the phones  (wo)manning the helpline, her little spark flames in her eyes and you know she knows PANDA is making a difference to literally thousands of families.

The message I keep hearing is how we women often try to pretend everything is ok, and it’s not until breaking point that they reach out. Or they go to their doctor and they don’t get the response they need.

Women are suffering in silence because parenting and being a mother and looking after a tiny baby is supposed to just come naturally to us, right?

It’s what we’re born to do, right?

But it’s not the case. It’s an incredible shift in your life and between hormones, lack of sleep, isolation, and about a gazillion other factors, shit just gets hard. Really, relentlessly difficult. I still find it hard almost six years in.

This post might not be for everyone, but if you’re feeling like it’s all a bit hard and you’re not really coping, this post is for you. Whether you’re pregnant now, your baby is two weeks, two years,  or even 20 years old….There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed, and there is great bravery involved in asking for help.

Call the PANDA helpline 1300 726 306

Talk to your partner

Speak to your doctor

Just tell someone how you’re feeling and let that cracking mask fall away.

 

*** This is not a sponsored post. It’s a community service announcement***

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply Nicole - Champagne and Chips November 25, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Oh gosh, my heart goes out to that poor woman. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a baby, to be honest I’m mildly terrified if left alone with one for even short periods. I hope she ended up OK.
    I’m so glad that post-natal depression is being so widely discussed now.

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