Overcoming postnatal anxiety and finding joy in motherhood
I look at this photo and realise how vulnerable you were. How you cried yourself to sleep most nights because you didn’t feel good enough, exhausted and sleep deprived with nothing left to give. How you wept in the shower alone, heart breaking-ly alone and those silent tears that rolled down the plughole, out of site, leaving no trace to the outside world that you weren’t coping.
Except someone knew and watched you and understood you were in trouble. Even when you asked him to take your daughter for a walk because you were too scared for him to see you break, falling apart, to your knees sobbing and wondering how on earth you were going to get through. Wondering if you were a fraud for telling him you couldn’t wait to be parents together and how very ‘maternal’ you were.
But he didn’t see that, did he? He saw the women he loved pushing him away, not letting him in, not letting him help. Thinking you weren’t good enough for him or your daughter, that you were somehow failing them both.
Thank God for the doctor who explained you had post-natal anxiety. Who demanded that you slow down and rest. Who warned you that you were heading towards burnout and that you must let someone, anybody help you.
Thank God for your husband realising that you weren’t going to let him reach you and hiring a post-natal doula to spend day in day out with you and his daughter. The anxiety had become so terrible you felt as though it would consume you. As if your daughter wouldn’t live if you let yourself rest for a moment or not respond to her cry within a second.
Being so confused by all the parents that seemed to be making it look so easy. Babies that slept through the night or fed to routine only confirmed your own failings as a mother. Was this going to break you, this being a mother, the thing you had waited for and wanted the most, in all of your life? Was it now going to destroy you?
And when you wondered if you would ever come out of the darkness then suddenly there was light. Breastfeeding started to get easier, Sophia started to sleep a bit longer each night. Laughter came back into the house, into you, along with asking for help.
Perhaps it was the post-natal doula that your husband hired to stay with you all day. He was so scared something bad was going to happen to both you and his baby girl it was the only thing he could think of to help. You were brave to let her in, let her help you, reach you, guide you and learn to be confident in yourself again.
And now look at you. Look at you thriving. And there she is, almost two, shouting ‘get me mummy, get me’ and falling into a heap of laughter on the floor, with your husband looking at you proudly. You came through it mama, you did it. You really did it. You just needed to be believed in so that you could believe in yourself. You needed to let yourself be supported so you could be the one supporting.
You understand how very important it is to look after yourself and never let your light go out again. How vital it is to ask for help and how all this time your daughter saw you she never once saw failure. She saw a strong incredible woman love and cherish every moment of her beautiful little life.
Never forget that you are her world, her everything right now and when she sees you her eyes light up in joy. She needs you to realise this as does your husband, who loves you now more than ever, he told you so remember. You have come through this together when it could have torn you apart.
And when you find yourself hoping to do it all over again, praying to be lucky enough to dare hope for another baby, remember not to do it alone this time, make sure you ask for that help and make sure more than anything when it comes you receive it.
Good luck Mama
HOPE – Hold On (Mama) Pain Ends.