So as I sit alone as my youngest son naps and my eldest is at nursery, I sit and think about my impending return to work, as a Team Manager for a mental health support service. I ask myself time and time again " have I enjoyed my maternity leave" and the answer in my head is " No", I then search for the times that were good that made me happy and then comes a sense of sadness as I can't remember.
My second son was born in January, I was induced after a difficult pregnancy that made me very ill. He was born a lovely healthy boy, we bonded straight away (unlike with my first son), he breastfed straight away (unlike my first son), he slept amazingly (unlike my first son.) So why did I feel so low, so lonely? I had two absolute perfect boys and an amazing husband and all I felt was dread. I would cry at least 3 times a day and I hated breastfeeding.
With my first son in 2013, my moods and inability to bond with him was put down to delayed grief from my mum dying, it wasn't! Let me put you in the picture about my family set up. My mum (my best friend) died in October 2010 of Cancer, age 55, she and my dad were together from 16, my dad and older brother live in Leeds. I moved to Brighton with my now husband, his family are from Hove, his mother died of cancer aged 55, in August 2010, again his parents together from youth and he has an older sister. Myself and my husband are 34 and been together since age 20, I love him with all my heart, and we understand the pain we've both been through and deal with the fact our boys will never have a granny.
I do not tell you this information for sympathy I tell you to put things in perspective.
This time around, I was convinced that something bad was going to happen to my little baby, I would check him numerous times throughout the night and whilst he napped. I felt so desperately unhappy and did not know why, I developed horrendous anxiety and always thought that someone I loved was going to die.
I had outside factors, and family members had their own issues, I was always the ear for everyone but no-one ( apart from my husband) knew of the battle I was having.
After days of locking myself in the bathroom, to avoid the children seeing me cry, after days of feeling like I want to walk out the door and never come back, I hit my lowest low. I desperately wanted my mum to hold me, to take the children off me for an hour, to make me a cup of tea, to gossip with me, I did not want to be a mum this moment I wanted my mum. I sat in the hallway in a ball and I cried like I had never cried before. My 3 year old came to find me, he gave me a hug, got his blue blanket for me and told me he loved me and said " mummy please don't do sad face."
So, I made a doctors appointment and was referred to the perinatal team, and this was my life saviour and I wanted to adopt my worker. I was referred for CBT and I started swimming and going to the gym and I stopped breastfeeding.
I'm by no means 100% and I had a massive anxiety attack this week, but the difference this time was that I sought help.
I still struggle to accept the journey I have been on, I continually think I manage a mental health service I can't have these struggles I know better, but reality is different.
So, those of you think that maternity leave, is cups of teas in cafes chatting leisurely I'm afraid it isn't for everyone. My husband is my rock and we've brought the boys up with little help from anyone and I'm proud of that, we've even managed one night out in 12 months.
Thanks for reading