I was 28 years when we had our first son, the labour was long, I didn’t feel supported or respected by some of the key medical staff involved with my labour which left me feeling inadequate. Our son finally arrived after 72 hours by forceps delivery, healthy and beautiful. My experience during my labour feels like it had some bearing on my later depression.
My son suffered terrible colic from 5pm until midnight, just about every night he would cry inconsolably, he would also often become distressed travelling in the car capsule. I had 19 stitches which did not heal for several weeks and was so painful I needed to use a foam ring to sit.
I think we must have been just prior to the readily available wisdom such as osteopath treatments for babies, there seemed to be so much more information by the time our third son was born and who knew that ultrasound could heal stitches I didn’t until some weeks later. I did ask and anti-colic medicines, your baby will settle when you are calm, he will settle at 3 months ‘like a light switch being turned on’ and saline swabs and salt baths for your peritoneum, and just relax into this new life and… were suggestions I remember being given.
My Mum came over from NZ just prior to our son’s birth for 6 weeks, she was amazing but then she returned home. I realised how big the Tasman sea was and I utterly grieved the loss that I had not until then fully realised; not having my Mother easily with me, for my son not having his Granny and for her loss not being close by. My husband is an only child and didn’t want to live in NZ, our life was in Australia.
After Mum left I became incredibly tired, our baby cried most nights in pain with colic he would calm if he was nuzzling on my breast but then that seemed to make his colic worse. I was so lonely, I didn’t feel I was a good mother, I just began crying, I had no joy. I loved my son but I don’t remember having feelings of peacefulness, calmness, confidence, love or care for myself. I remember a girlfriend saying to me you need to tidy up your bedroom and keep on top of keeping Ryan’s space hygienic, I must have been letting a lot of things go, I remember feeling like I was barely coping.
I would put a brave face on, we would go out, I had friends, cousins, my sister had just shifted from up North to an hour away and had a daughter 3 months later. I was just so sad and honestly no longer knew who I was or much else. My husband thought it was our relationship and that perhaps I wanted to leave him.
I would spend hours at home alone with Ryan crying, I remember hiding in the back garden so not to see my neighbour or answer the front door. But if someone was around the brave face would be back on and I think I thought that if I could still do that then I was ok. Really, I so was not, it’s hard to understand now how I could have possibly thought I was.
I had left my work as a youth worker heavily involved in the developing youth field in Perth to have our first son. We had decided I would be a full time Mum and stay home, so mixed in with it all was a sense of loss of professional identity; I don’t know if I had returned to work whether that would have helped. I did do some casual facilitation work but I didn’t follow up on offers for other work. I remember some working friends saying to me they would go crazy ‘just’ being a stay at home Mum – I was left feeling ‘less than’.
I am writing this and crying – for myself and my son. Because I hid myself it felt like I had no one even though around me were people who loved and cared for me. All I can say is I wish I had connected with someone honestly, got support, I wish I had wept with someone. I hope anyone reading and relating to any of this finds the courage to.