“I started to feel sick, so I figured I would do a pregnancy test just to set my mind at rest. It was positive. I thought I would feel ecstatic, but I didn’t. I felt panicked, I felt like I was making a mistake. How could I feel this way when having a baby was all I’d ever wanted? I bottled the feelings up, kept them to myself and carried on with my pregnancy. I knew I loved my baby as I felt overwhelming happiness when she was okay at scans and appointments. However, I didn’t feel like I was connecting to her. I didn’t feel what other mothers claim to have felt. I didn’t enjoy being pregnant.
I planned a relaxing home birth using the Hypnobirthing techniques I’d spent months learning. However, it wasn’t meant to be, I ended up in labor for three days. It was extremely traumatic and nearly ended up in surgery. When I held my daughter for the first time I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel the overwhelming rush of love I’d been promised. I felt battered, bruised and exhausted.
To add to the trauma, she didn’t latch on when feeding. I tried for hours to breastfeed her with no success. I ended up having to hand express and feed her with a syringe. Nothing about it felt natural. The baby blues hit me hard and I was crying because of how dramatically everything had changed. How some of the plans I had for myself were never going to happen, and one part of me had to end. I was sad for myself. I was sad no one told me I might feel this way. I was sad how for every single day for the rest of my life I would never just be me, I would be a mom. I was sad I could no longer make excuses for myself. Someone would always be watching and needing me, and I had to change. I was sad that I cried into one of her bibs. I was just sad. But those feelings I had didn’t disappear like people told me they would when the ‘baby blues’ ended. I sometimes still mourn for myself.
I didn’t really know a lot about postnatal depression, I thought it was simply having no bond with your baby. I didn’t realize you could love your baby as intensely as I did and still have PND, or PPD. I didn’t talk to anyone about the way I was feeling. Even though I knew I loved her and knew we had an amazing bond, I struggled to say ‘I love you’ to my baby. I just shut down completely. I didn’t cry, I didn’t really feel much of anything. I thought it was normal and was due to the exhaustion of no sleep. It gradually got worse and worse, and those close to me started to notice. I had such a short temper and no patience for anyone except my daughter. I became obsessed with being around her and never wanted her out of my sight. Being with her was the only time I felt some sort of happiness.
There were also feelings of emptiness and discontentment. I didn’t find parenting as easy as I thought I would. People kept saying things to me like, ‘This is the easy part, just wait until they’re older.’ It filled me with even worse depression. I was struggling so much already, how was I ever going to cope when she got older and into the next stage? I was googling everything a million times a day. I didn’t trust my own thoughts or instincts, and I felt like the worst mom ever.
When Everly was 5 weeks old she started with colic type symptoms. I took her straight to the doctor as I was overwhelmed with anxiety and sure I had missed something. She was fine, but one of my lowest moments was standing up for hours rocking her as it was the only thing that soothed her. I remember thinking I wasn’t cut out to be a mom. I managed of course, you have to when you’re a mom, but I knew I had to get help. I went to the doctor even though I found it extremely difficult to talk about, but as I’d suffered with depression as a teenager I knew it was part of the problem. I asked to be put on medication. My doctor said to me, ‘Are you sure it’s not just the pressure of Christmas?’ ‘NO!’ I wanted to scream, ‘This is why mothers don’t speak out. Because people belittle us. They tell us to cope.’ I felt so angry. I accepted the prescription and left. I knew I needed to do something more than medication. The thought of other women feeling as I do and being dismissed as I just was broke my heart. I couldn’t cope with the thought of it.
I sat at home thinking of ways I could help myself and others. I’d always loved to write and be creative. Something which had completely slipped down my priority list since becoming pregnant. I decided to set up a blog and an Instagram account. I started writing about my feelings. Daring myself to be more honest with each post. Preparing myself to be judged and ignored like I had been in the past…but I wasn’t. Moms kept reaching out to me, saying they’d felt the exact same way. I couldn’t believe how common it was. The shame I felt slowly lifted. It wasn’t something I ever needed to be ashamed of. I hadn’t chosen to have postnatal depression. And these women gave me hope I could heal myself.
The medication made me feel more comfortable with the love I felt for my daughter, and seeing a counselor who validated my feelings has helped so much. I still have a long way to go, and every day is a battle, but it’s a battle I know I can win. And one I want to help every single woman who is fighting it to win, too.”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tashia Campbell. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more relatable stories about postnatal depression here:
‘Is it normal to hate your baby?’ I was desperately begging for God to kill her. What’s wrong with me? I was terrified of what I would do to her.’: Woman overcomes ‘debilitating’ postpartum depression
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