WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE THE LINE IS
As far as upbringings go, mine was pretty uneventful. No family divorces, no drug or alcohol abuse, no childhood traumas; and for this, I am so thankful. I am, however, ashamed to say that my somewhat sheltered life has meant that I always thought of mental health as something that wasn’t really a thing. Anxiety and depression weren’t things I felt like I could relate to or understand in any way, and I certainly didn’t expect to ever be affected by them myself.
I think that’s why when I had Lawson; it felt like I’d been hit by a truck.
When Lawson was first born, he was poorly with suspected sepsis, and, as a result, was in neonatal for a week on a course of antibiotics. I was recovering from surgery, and for the first 48 hours, I didn’t hold my baby. I didn’t get that all important skin to skin, I didn’t get to establish feeding right from the get go. And I didn’t know at the time, but our bond was massively affected.
To put into a nutshell the first two months after giving birth, it was an emotional mix of tears, feeling like I wasn’t a natural mother, feeling scared of my baby and not really feeling connected to him either. I saw countless health visitors (as is normal practice) during this time, and remember biting my tongue and holding back tears every time they asked how I was doing, mustering up the words ‘I’m fine’ through the lump in my throat.
Of course this wasn’t the case, and if I’m honest, it wasn’t really the case for the first year of Lawson’s life.
I really struggled to adjust to motherhood.
I would cry on a regular basis, which I put down to hormones. I stopped going to baby groups, and actually just stopped going out in general. Even simple tasks like putting a load of washing on seemed like an obstacle the size of a mountain. I lost motivation to play with Lawson, and stressed about miniscule things.
The thing is, I wasn’t sure if all of this was just normal. Whether motherhood was just THIS hard and I needed to grow a backbone. The line between postnatal depression and just adapting to a life-changing event was always blurry for me. I have never been good at dealing with change, and so I put it down to me just being ‘me’.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Just to bring you up to speed, I am now a part time working mum (with a side passion project of blogging and YouTube, y’know, just to keep me busy), and Lawson and I have an incredible bond. I love him so much sometimes I just cry. I am that creepy mum that sits by his cot while he sleeps, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I sniff his head a smidgen too often (it’s just SO. GOOD.)
Our relationship now is amazing, so I am able to see what held us back in the beginning. I’m able to see that yes, motherhood is hard, ESPECIALLY in that first year, but it’s OK to chat to someone professional about it if the struggle gets too much. If you’re not sure where the line is, it’s OK to go to your GP or health visitor and let them know where your head’s at. In hindsight, I should’ve spoken up. You don’t have to plough through motherhood on your own. You need a team. Heck, I could’ve done with an entire football squad, but sometimes, just having one person who knows what you’re going through makes the world of difference.
Written by Hayley Thomson
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Women talking unashamedly about their mental health and parenting innit.