I haven’t posted up a Real Mums interview in a while as I’ve been busy with some other major projects (like the Mother’s Day Edit for The Nursery Collective, my Winter Sleeping Bag Review, and preparing and speaking at a Mother’s Day Luncheon for Babes + Picnics Sutherland Shire). But now it is time to really get into it, and I’m very excited as I have some amazing mummas lined up for the rest of May (and beyond, as I have some catching up to do!). This month, I have interviewed a variety of mums who have experience Postnatal Depression, Postnatal Anxiety and Postanatal Psychosis. By sharing their stories, these mums hope to inspire you in your own motherhood journey, and encourage you to seek help if you need. Tonight I am joined by the beautiful and passionate Emma of Blissful Beyond Birth, and she shares her experience of Postnatal Depression after her first and fourth child. Grab a cuppa and be encouraged by this incredible mumma! x
Hi Emma! Thank you so much for joining us this week for the Real Mums series and sharing your story of going through PND as part of our May series on Postnatal Depression and Anxiety. To start us off, could you introduce us to yourself and your family?
Thanks for having me, I’m very excited to be a part of something so wonderful. My name is Emma and I am a wife, a mother, a small business owner, a crochet enthusiast and a coffee addict.
I met my husband David 14 years ago and we have been married for almost 6 of those years. We have a crazy kind of love, we make each other laugh and support each other no matter what. We have 4 incredible children, Deacon who just turned 10, Lily is our only girl and is 8 and a half, Zakk is our rainbow baby and he is 2 and a half and little smiley Wyatt will be 1 next week. We are all fairly loud and I often feel sorry for our neighbors.
What does a “typical” week look like in your house? Well, as typical as mum life can get, anyway?!
Dave is FIFO and a week when he is at work is fast paced……
Early mornings, most days before 5am is Wyatt’s time to shine. If I have errands to run I try and get them done after school drop off and before the little boys need to take a nap.
I may have to pick up a placenta or two during the week or drop of an encapsulated placenta back to a mum so I get to cluck of over new babies which I love. Probably should have mentioned I’m a Placenta Arts Specialist and encapsulate placentas for a living.
I work on my social media pages while my little boys nap and sometimes if they are playing nicely together I can sneak in a quick post or two.
House work and cooking slot in there too somewhere but cleaning with little people in the house is like having your vacuum on reverse so I do what I can, as long as the floors and kitchen are clean that’s good enough for me.
If I have a placenta to encapsulate I do that when the children are in bed. Once I start I can’t stop, for health and safety reasons for me, my children and my client. Then I am up every 2 hours checking that the dehydrator is still working fine and the temperature is where it needs to be.
That’s a fairly typical week, early morning, coffee, school run, play, nap, coffee, placenta, cook, clean, coffee, eat, sleep, and repeat.
When did you first realize you were going through Postnatal Depression? Were there specifics signs or symptoms that made you realise, “oh hang on….”?
The first time I had PND was after the birth of our daughter. I remember she was around a week old. I was sitting next to Dave breastfeeding her and looked up at Dave and said ‘I don’t want to feed her, she feels like a little stranger sucking on me and I hate it’. I continued to breastfeed her because I know she needed me. I didn’t hesitate to see my GP as I was no stranger to depression and now that I had children I knew how important it was to seek help.
I was prescribed some antidepressants and within a week I felt more like myself again. But the medication was not a sure cure, I still had down days and had to work hard to keep positive and even though it was hard I pulled myself up each and every day for my family.
It was years 3 years before I could start to come off the antidepressants and I felt so much pride in myself when that day finally came.
You also went through PND with your 4th child. Did you recognise it sooner having gone through it before? Was it different to your first experience, and if so, how?
I did yes but it was so very different. After we were married we agreed to try and have one more baby, and it took 4 years and 4 miscarriages before we were blessed with Zakk. I was so grateful that finally after all we have been through we finally completed our family.
For the first time ever I felt ‘done’ I was finished having babies. So when I figured out I was pregnant again I was completely thrown off. I laughed at the test stick in my hand and was terrified to tell Dave, I knew he would be happy but I was still scared. He laughed too and said he was happy. But within the month after my laughter turned to anger, guilt and tears, I was always sick and angry, crying, guilty and just feeling like completely alone. In my mind I was the most ungrateful person on earth, the universe had not only given us one more baby that we wanted so desperately it had given us two and I was feeling like this.
We didn’t tell anyone we were pregnant again, I said let’s just wait until I get my head around it before we tell everyone. I was 18 weeks and the only reason we told our families was because I was getting bigger.
As time grew on I got worse, Dave’s work was all but gone because of the drop in oil prices…No work no pay so this made me feel like a walking time bomb, I big belly waiting to need more money that we just didn’t have.
Dave suggested that we find out the sex of the baby to try and prepare ourselves and maybe get me a bit more excited too. My reaction made him realise just how serious my depression was, I told him I didn’t want to find out because I just didn’t care! I broke down spilling every little guilt and shame laced bit of how I was feeling. He just held me and let me get it all out, he told me it was all going to be fine and that I’m not ungrateful. I just wanted to have this baby, I was good at being a mum I could do the baby thing but for some reason I just couldn’t do the pregnant part this time. We found out we were having a boy but I still didn’t feel any better, I told my OB that I was feeling sad and angry but didn’t go into too much more detail than that because I just felt so guilty. I felt so alone, too scare to tell anyone how I felt because I am so open about pregnancy loss and most of our friends and family know what we have been through I didn’t want them to confirm how ungrateful I was.
What was your process of working through PND once you identified it?
I had to push myself every day to function, one day at a time I had to constantly remind myself that this feeling was temporary I knew that if I didn’t think of something I was going to need to be medicated again once the baby was born. I didn’t want to take any medication while I was pregnant so I went into pilot mode. Not a healthy thing to do at all, but I had to give myself some hope a fighting chance.
Then I started researching placentophagy, I read page after page of reports suggesting that consuming your placenta can help reduce the likelihood of PND. I made phone calls and was given the name of someone that would encapsulate for me. It was set and I was excited to be me again and to be a good mum to this baby.
Wyatt’s birth was traumatic and we almost lost him, I think that was the universes way of waking me up and making me see just how much I loved him. I was completely obsessed with my new baby boy, he was incredible. Once he was born and the world started turning again, all the sadness, guilt and anger just disappeared. I did not shed one postpartum tear not even day 3 blues, not one melt down or overwhelming moment. It was like the lights were turned back on.
What supported you through this process? Did you work with professionals or through family and friend networks?
My husband was my main support through this process, I was too ashamed to reach out for help and that was the biggest mistake I could have made. I had counseling while I was pregnant with our daughter but I think because the issue I was dealing with at the time was not primarily about me I was easier to ask for help. This time I WAS about me, I was the problem (or at least that’s what I though) so I was terrified to ask for help.
You have since started a wonderful business called Blissful Beyond Birth. Can you tell us a bit about it?
My business is called Blissful Beyond Birth a placenta encapsulation service in Toowoomba. I started my business last year after having my own placenta encapsulated, i though it was so amazing and I needed to offer it to other mothers.
I offer Raw method and Traditional Chinese Method of encapsulation as well as Raw based Placenta Tinctures. Free with all encapsulation bookings is a cord keepsake and placenta art with is a print of your actual placenta and photos.
I also have Blissful Ties which are a crochet umbilical cord tie, a sweet alternative to plastic cord clamps and these I custom make and can post anywhere. I am so passionate about my work and always happy to answer any questions people may have.
If you could pass on any advice or encouragement for other mums working through PND, what would you share?
Please reach out, I know you hear it a million times and it honestly starts to sound fake. But I was lucky, my depression didn’t end badly but untreated depression CAN end badly. So don’t feel alone, as hard as it was to share my story I want others to know that someone else has felt this way.
Your friends that matter will be there for you, your care provider can’t help you unless you tell them what you are feeling. In most cases counseling for mental health is free, ask your GP about a mental health care plan. Asking for help does not mean you are weak and doesn’t it mean you have failed. This journey can sometimes be challenging for us but what you get when you reach the end is well worth all the grief I can promise you that,