When I started blogging, I wanted a way of documenting my life with my little Starfish. A diary, a virtual scrapbook, a momento. However it quickly flourished into something more, a way to encourage and support new mums on their motherhood journey. One of the ways this blog has been able to do that is to share the stories of REAL mums, mums like you and I. We’re in this motherhood journey TOGETHER, experiencing the SAME things. By sharing the stories of mums like us helps us to feel like maybe we’re not alone in this crazy rollercoaster of motherhood.
I think of particular importance is sharing the TOUGH stuff. The RAW experiences; the HONEST stories. They’re the things us mums relate to – getting to the nitty-gritty. Talking about the unspoken, the taboo. Carmen is such a mum – this beautiful mum of 3 boys (yes, THREE boys) is using her space on the world wide web to break down the stigma around Post Natal Depression by sharing her story, and helping other mums work through their feelings and experiences too. I hope you find her raw, emotional story as inspiring as I’ve found it. Thank you so much for sharing Carmen! x
Everyone told me that having a baby would completely change my life.
They were right, of course! I mean labour alone was a nothing like what I had prepared for – not for the reason most would expect though. My labour was incredible. Sure it hurt worse than a thousand paper cuts on my eyelids, and yes my body will never be the same, but I have never felt anything more empowering in my life. It makes me sad to think of the women that don’t get to experience a positive labour. I got very lucky. I don’t think we hear enough positive labour stories. I sang through mine, I kid you not! It does happen!
Having a relatively ‘easy’ labour was not the only thing that caught me off guard. People tell you that you’ll love your child more than life itself and they’re right. What they don’t tell you is that sometimes that love can be overshadowed by a faceless beast.
Post natal depression is scary. It makes you doubt your abilities as a mother, it makes you question if your child would be better off with a ‘better’ mother, if your husband should find a more equipped parenting partner. It can make you regret having a family, it can make you resent this gorgeous little creature because they’ve sucked all your independence away. You don’t stop loving them, but it can be harder to acknowledge that you do, and oh my goodness the guilt is crippling.
The hardest part about post natal depression is making the decision to seek help. It took everything I had to put on my big girl panties and march into that Doctors office and tell them that sometimes I felt like running away. I felt so much shame, and I felt like no one in the world would understand, and if anyone knew my thoughts they would think I was a monster. I felt like a failure. I had wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl, playing with my Barbie dolls, but I’m pretty sure they don’t make a Barbie that comes with stretch marks, a mum bun, yoga pants, and Kens ratty old t-shirt (how exactly is that not a thing?)
That day, that life changing, humiliating, soul crushing day that I admitted out loud that I didn’t feel the way that ‘normal’ mothers felt was four years ago. That baby that I loved from a distance is now a kind, gentle, crazy four year old boy who loves me as deeply as I love him.
That little boy now has two little brothers – a two year old, and a one year old. Yes, I’m crazy, yes they were planned, yes I had post natal depression with them all.
It was different though. After the first time I decided that I was only adding to the negative stigma if I was ashamed of it. I decided that I wasn’t failing my children, I was being strong by admitting that I needed some help. I decided that my husband didn’t need another wife to help him raise our children, because we complimented each other, he picked up where I left off, and he reminded me every single day that I am not alone, and that he is proud of me for fighting.
I decided that post natal depression didn’t get to own me, it was just something that I live with, like changing nappies, or being subject to a house full of toilet humour – it’s just a part of my life.
I don’t want any mother to feel like I did four years ago. I don’t want them to feel alone. They aren’t. There are many of us who battle the beast. Please don’t be ashamed, we need to normalise this, for our children, and for each other. I dream of a day that we can all talk about it like we chat about the weather.
‘Hi! How’s motherhood treating you?’
‘It’s great, but hard. I have Postnatal depression so some days are harder than others’
‘How can I help? Let’s make a coffee date!’
We need this to happen. It is more common than people realise. It’s not a weakness, it’s chemical. And it’s not just up to those who’ve suffered to change things. We all need to support and love each other, we need to remind each other that we’re not alone and we’re absolutely rocking this Mum gig, and occasionally we need to turn up on our friends doorstep with warm brownies and a coffee that isn’t stone cold in a mug with a ring around the inside.
Because everything is that little bit easier with a friend, a guilty sweet treat, and a steaming hot cuppa.
If you think you require professional advice and assistance, please visit Beyond Blue (www.beyondblue.com.au) to help spot the signs of anxiety and depression, common in the first year of having a baby.