THE BLOG

'I Don't Want to Be a Mum Anymore'

21/04/2016 17:23

Those were the words that gave my husband, Shaun, a window into how I was really feeling about being a mum to our nine month-old son. He stopped still, embraced me, and gently told me that we needed to seek professional help.

Although conceiving our son took a few years and some fertility help, I had, what would be classed by most, as the perfect pregnancy: no complications, nothing out of the ordinary and other than being uncomfortable, it was all fairly simple.

Simple, apart from the fact that I didn't enjoy feeling him kick, I didn't stroke my bump with loving thoughts, I just detached myself from the growing life inside me and went about my life as normal. It was even at those early stages of being a mum that I hated losing my own power of decision and independence.

My birth was great (I know, I know!) I had studied hypno-birthing and felt more than ready for this huge feat. It was a relaxed and calm affair; I even made cakes in between contractions. I then spent the last 6 hours in the birthing pool where our son, Fletcher, was born.

The midwife quickly scooped him onto my chest for me to hold. And that's when it started: I had no emotion towards him at all. I was just lying in the water overcome with relief and self-pity. I wasn't thinking, what a lot of mums do: love.

Fletcher and I went home 15 hours later. This was a decision I now regret; I wish I had stayed for that extra support for his first day, and mine. Who knows, it could have made a difference. In the next few days and weeks we had lots of visitors, and each one would say to me:

"Isn't he lovely?"

"I bet you're loving being a mum?"

I would sit there, nod and smile and agree whilst secretly, thinking 'no, this is awful.'

I hated that he needed me so much; I hated losing my independence and that I no longer felt like 'me'. I started to feel a huge amount of resentment towards him; this of course led to a massive gap in understanding between Shaun and I. We couldn't begin to grasp how each other was feeling or why. In my head, my son had caused me pain, discomfort, loss of identity and now a wedge between me and the love of my life.

But life goes on and I truly thought that at some point I would settle into it and start to love him. I just assumed it was sleep deprivation and just generally getting used to be a parent. I did everything I could to bond; skin-to-skin, baby wearing, baby massage. Unfortunately we couldn't breastfeed but I knew we had both tried our best and quite frankly I was happy to be able to give him to other people. I even once, offered him to the postman!

There is a misconception that with PND, mums want to harm their babies. This isn't the case for the majority of women. I certainly didn't. I didn't want to hurt myself either, but I did want to leave.

I would watch the clock all day until Shaun was due home, and on many occasions I thought, "Shaun is back in ten minutes, if I go now I know that Fletcher will be fine and then they can get on with life without me." I thought that it wasn't fair for Fletcher to have a mum around that regretted having him and couldn't love him as much as Shaun could. One of these times, I actually packed a bag, but as Shaun drove up to the house I hid it. I stayed because I couldn't imagine my life without him. I'd just have to get used to Fletcher.

But the darkness was lonely and frightening. Depression is called 'The Black Dog', and he was biting at my feet, just waiting to swallow me whole. Some days I wanted him too, it seemed easier to submit to it rather than fight it.

We moved house when Fletcher was eight months old, we bought a renovation project. But with the amount of work we we're doing on the house coupled with work and parenting, the stress levels of both Shaun and I rose and with that: the arguments.

So when I admitted how I felt about being a mum, Shaun asked the health visitor to come over. She asked me to fill out the multiple-choice test they use, if you score ten or over you are diagnosed with postnatal depression. I scored 20. She sent me to the doctor for help and we settled on medication and weekly swimming for self care. I told the rest of my family and some close friends, I felt supported, lifted and hopeful.

On Fletcher's first birthday, I had a 'light bulb' moment. I looked at him and realised he was becoming independent (fiercely so, I wonder where he got that from?). I had gained some of my independence back. I had survived the first year, and I had stayed. But most of all, I had started to love him.

I don't think I would have ever made it out of the darkness without the shoulders that I had to lean on. I was so lucky to have a health visitor that was so brilliant and beyond fortunate to have a husband that gave me the time, space and love that I needed.

And now, Fletcher is a thriving and happy 2 year old and I can't find enough words to explain how much I love him. And although I don't think I will ever say that parenting is easy, I can't ever imagine my life without him. I now have two loves of my life.

I now support other parents who suffer with PND by running a Support Group through PANDAS (Pre & Post Natal Depression Advice and Support) Foundation. For more info and support visit: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk

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