I hate being a new mother. (My PPD story)

Disclaimer: horribly personal info. (I really mean it.)

Let me start by saying I’ve never been broody. I haven’t spent much time around babies and when I did see them, my uterus didn’t twinge, I didn’t go “awwww” and I certainly didn’t want to smell them. As a matter of fact, it just flat out didn’t appeal to me. I thought it was going to be hard work with little reward. Don’t get me wrong; I always knew I’d have kids but it was a very calculated and contrived conclusion. (I love alliterations!) I was always more interested in Andrew and I travelling and having loads of “us” time.

Consequently, when we had been married 7 years and I was rounding in on 30 years old we felt it was something we couldn’t put off any more.

Getting pregnant was the easy bit. Due to some major problems with Andrew’s freelance client we were only able to have sex once during my “fertile period” so I can tell you my exact date of conception. I take this as an absolute blessing and it is comforting to me to think that Luther was obviously meant to be in the world.

I found pregnancy relatively easy too. The first 14 weeks were rough as I was tired and constantly nauseous but after that I felt great and was able to work up until a week before my due date with few changes to my lifestyle.

This, however, was nature’s way of giving me a false sense of security and making me believe I was just naturally meant to be a mother.

I can safely say that first night in hospital after the C-section was the worst thing I’ve ever had to live through in my entire life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a private room so I was in a ward with 4 other mothers. They also made Andrew leave (as they do with all guests) at 8pm and I was suddenly all alone with this little needy blob. I was exhausted, emotional, in a bit of pain and more scared than I have ever been. I spent most of the night crying silently so as to not wake the other mothers. As Andrew wasn’t allowed back in until 10am it was a long night. I didn’t feel the night nurses were particularly helpful or warm and because there is no longer a nursery I really felt completely alone with this enormous, needy commitment.

There was no instant love between Luke and I. No immediate bonding… no emotion at all, in fact. I certainly knew he was mine and I felt a responsibility; but it felt more like an obligation… a burden, almost.

Breastfeeding didn’t come easy.  I always knew that I was going to breastfeed and have put off a breast-reduction just to increase my chances of successful feeding.  Now, I’m not entirely sure why I was blessed with this enormous bosom, but it certainly wasn’t for ease of breastfeeding.  Firstly, my nipples stare dejectedly at the floor which means I can neither breastfeed in bed lying down nor do the normal, lovely baby-across-your-front breastfeeding position.  Instead, I get the almost-as-romantic-sounding “rugby hold” or (for the Americans) “football hold” position.   Secondly, the sheer mass of my breast means that I’m liable to smother Luke if I’m not careful.   Occasionally I can get him in just the right position, but normally I need to pull up on my boob where his nose is so he can breathe.  Needless to say this also makes latching on difficult and while in hospital he had to be topped up with cup feeding until we could work things out.  My breasts have also prohibited me from expressing.  They squirt like mad for about 20 seconds and then dry up.  I think they know it’s a pump and not a baby and they bogart the milk…

Eventually the sleep deprivation kicked in and then all bets were off.  I was a walking zombie who would literally have to slap herself at night to stay awake to feed.  (Because dozing off meant smothering baby — see above.)  And as I’m a rubbish napper, the only sleep I could get was at night in between feeds.   Andrew was more than supportive and did absolutely everything in the world he could do for me.  I could not in a million years have asked for better.

But still I was miserable. I was frequently in tears and couldn’t stop all of these horrible thoughts going through my head.  I was either having suicidal thoughts or I would sit there and honestly search my soul to see if I had it in me to hurt the baby because my brain was thinking up the most terrible things.

Luckily, I had two saving graces.  Firstly, that my folks were coming to visit and that I was also going to America to visit the family.  It was really wonderful to know that the cavalry was on the way.  Don’t get me wrong; the Collingtons, and in particular my mother-in-law, are absolutely wonderful people and would honestly do anything in the world for me.  But when I felt that low I didn’t know what to ask for and I just didn’t feel as comfortable leaning as heavily on them as I would my own family (whom I’m happy to abuse).  But mostly it gave me something to look forward to.

My second saving grace, as ironic as it was, was that I’d suffered from depression in the past.  This allowed me to understand beforehand that (a) I was most-likely going to get some level of post-partum depression and (b) there is light at the end of the tunnel:  it will only be a temporary condition.

There have been five specific events that have helped me through this:

1)  Andrew’s cousin, Tammy, came up for a visit and we had an amazing conversation.  She was the first person who ever spoke to me about all the horrible things I was feeling.

2) My family visits

3)  On a visit back to America I had a really long sit-down with my friend Anna and had a really in-depth talk about the 5 different levels of depression, how we both felt, the media, health professionals, etc.

4)  Luther started smiling

5)  Luther started sleeping through the night. (Well, 5 – 6 hours at least.) 

And so that’s it — that’s my motherhood experience in a nutshell.  Every day gets easier and easier and I feel a million times better now than I did at the start of this rollercoaster ride.  I still have bad days/moments but they are fewer and further in between allowing me to have more and more positive experiences with my son.  I’m not back to “normal”, but the bonding process continues and while we still have some way to go I feel, for the first time, a sense of excitement and happiness about what’s to come.

I hate being a new mother, but I don’t mind being a not-so-new mother and I think I’ll enjoy being just “mother”.

I write all of this down in the hopes it will help someone.  When I was suffering I didn’t look for help – but I’m sure there are already loads of resources out on the web.  Regardless, maybe this will come in useful for someone – just to know that you’re not alone.






5 responses to “I hate being a new mother. (My PPD story)”

  1. Erica Avatar

    Well done, Lisa. So many new mothers seem to think there is something wrong when they have these feelings of despair and lack those feelings of instant-motherhood-love (just add labor). But, meeting any new person, regardless if they grew inside you or not, is potentially uncomfortable and it takes time to know and love someone.

    And in case no one else has thought to terrorize you with this site, here are some of the joys to come:

  2. Linda Letherby Avatar
    Linda Letherby

    I am so annoyed with you – why oh why didn’t you say something, I would have been there in an instant and you could have abused me as much as you wanted. Motherhood is not the wonderful thing that movies and other women make it out to be frankly it’s bloody horrible, I hated it, I saw my twins as eating, screaming, puking and cr***ing machines and boy were they efficient at it.

    Please please talk to me, I’ve been there, got the t-shirt and diploma I’ll help you but you need to ask, unfortunately I’m not a mind reader and you were making it look easy and natural(!)

  3. Lisa Avatar

    Thank you both!

    I’m sure you know what it’s like, though — when you feel that low you really *don’t* want anyone around you. But things are getting much better. You know what they say … fake it till you make it! 🙂

    Erica, that site is so funny! I’ll need to take some life-lessons from it.

    Thank you both!!

  4. Linda Avatar

    I just love you and am proud of you!

  5. carkedit Avatar

    Lis…you can abuse me anytime you want..even if you dont feel you can. I didnt realise you were feeling that bad!! I’m only 2hrs away though so can turn up whenever you need me to 😉 Guess its not been as easy as you have made it look..

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