It is my pleasure to introduce my first guest blogger Toni from Finding Myself Young who is writing about the birth of her first child and her experience of depression. Toni is a young Mum of a beautiful baby girl who writes about her journey from a controlling marriage, her new love, her journey through infertility, and now her life as a Mum who experienced depression as a new Mum.
From Finding Myself Young:
Having a baby is meant to be a happy time of your life. That’s what I thought. That’s what the media tell us. All of the images in the baby books are of happy mums and smiling bubs. The pamphlets they give you at the hospital are full of the same. And everyone always talks about the overwhelming surge of love and happiness you will feel when you meet your baby for the first time. What’s not to be happy about?
I didn’t have the easiest road to motherhood, but once I was pregnant I never doubted my ability to be a mother or to love my child. I had looked forward to motherhood my whole life. I wanted nothing more than to bring new life into the world and have the privilege of raising a little person. I was always drawn to babies. I had a very strong maternal instinct from very early on. I was always looking after my friends and making sure everyone was ok. The path to pregnancy wasn’t easy, but nurturing was in my nature so there was no reason why I should question what lay ahead. My dream was finally coming true. I knew labour was going to hurt, but it would be worth it and after that everything would be perfect. Why wouldn’t it be?
Unfortunately I ended up being as far away from the perfect mum in the books as I could of been. Through no fault of my own, my initial experience of motherhood was not all warm and fuzzy. The first time I saw my baby I was not overwhelmed with love – I was in complete shock that I had just undergone an emergency c-section. I was spaced out on a concoction of drugs that had been pumped into me in an incredibly short period of time. I was trying to comprehend the fact that I had just gone through major surgery and that it was over before I even had the chance to realise what was happening. There was no long loving staring into my babies eyes, no skin on skin contact and surge of happy hormones, only shaking and disbelief. I couldn’t hold her because I was shaking so badly (a side effect of Pethidine).
That was when the sadness started creeping in. I was mourning the fact that I didn’t get the natural birth I wanted. I didn’t have a preconceived idea of how I wanted my birth to play out, just that I wanted to at least try and have a natural birth. Going into labour there was no reason why this wouldn’t be possible, so to end up having an emergency c-section without even being allowed to attempt pushing myself was a real shock. I felt robbed of my evolutionary right to birth my own child. I muddled through all the hospital visits under a thin veil of mock happiness whilst keeping my sadness hidden inside. Sleep deprivation and plummeting hormones weren’t helping. The whole time I kept thinking “I finally have my baby I always wanted, how dare I be unhappy”.
I was desperately seeking the strong bond that everyone says is natural. For some reason it just wasn’t there. How could I not feel an instant bond to my baby when she was my own child? I most certainly loved her, that was never a question, but I just didn’t feel that bond that I was supposed to feel. Because of this I felt incredible guilt. I thought I was cheating her out of the mother/daughter relationship she deserved. I had only been a mum for a few days and I already felt I had failed at it. I was certain I was a bad mum. I didn’t dare tell anyone in case they thought I was a bad mum too.
I eventually opened up to one of my closest friends and admitted that I thought I couldn’t cope, that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I felt horrible. She didn’t tell me I was a bad mum. She didn’t brush me off either. She came over and helped me. She listened to me. She saw me at my lowest and hugged me while I cried. She didn’t judge me, she supported me. She played a pivotal part in helping me to deal with my depression.
Over the next few weeks I sought help from numerous people and professionals and I went back to feeling like me. I now have an incredibly close bond with my baby. It wasn’t instant, but it did grow very strong over time. She is an extension of me and I don’t feel whole without her.
I want other mums to know it’s ok if you feel sad. Sometimes you don’t feel an instant bond with your baby. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mum. We shouldn’t feel pressured to live up to social stereotypes, or feel bad when we don’t. Unfortunately life doesn’t always go the way the books say it will. And that’s OK.
To read more from Finding Myself Young you can read more at: