So I need a ‘blog identity’ or pseudonym; I know ‘Warrior Mum’ sounds a little bit arrogant – like I’m some cape wearing, Amazonian super mum. I’m not unfortunately, quite the opposite in fact. These days I’m rocking the slightly frazzled, sleep deprived, au natural (that sounds better than I cant be bothered to wear make-up or brush my hair) look, on account of my gorgeous little 1 year old. I didn’t even come up with the name actually, it’s a term I came across during my battle with anxiety and postnatal depression; it’s an American organisation that have quite a successful online presence including various conference events creating support for postpartum progress. They also have a really cool little logo that at one point I considered having tattooed. I don’t have any, nor have I ever considered getting a tattoo before. You know how people say ‘don’t shop when you’re hungry’ or ‘don’t go to bed angry’ – I decided it was best not to make any permanent, body altering decisions whilst depressed. The name did however bring a great deal of comfort to me during a pretty crappy time. Instead of being a ‘struggling mum’ or ‘incompetent mum’ or ‘mum battling to get through each day’ I was a ‘Warrior Mum’. According to Postpartum Progress’ website:
‘A Warrior Mom Ambassador is a mom who wants to support other moms in her community. She wants to raise awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and reduce stigma.’
- Well I figured that’s what I’m here to do by writing this blog, so I hope they don’t mind me borrowing their name. Obviously I’m English so a Warrior ‘Mum’ as opposed to a Warrior ‘Mom’ …
I have loved my son from the moment he was born, an intense, unconditional, self affirming love that overwhelmed me from the moment I held my perfect boy in my arms; but for the first 6 months of his life, I couldn’t enjoy loving him. I’m going to talk about my battle with anxiety, postnatal depression and the bittersweet irony of having the best thing in my life trigger one of the worst times in my life.
Post-labour, my body had been through the biggest physical trauma (albeit natural and beautiful blah blah) that I had ever experienced (and I was lucky enough to have a fairly straightforward labour). You have hormones surging through you rapidly transforming your body from a baby habitat to a baby milk machine. Your swollen nether regions feel like you received a gynaecological exam from Edward Scissorhands, your breasts feel like boulders of cement, it hurts to pee, poo, sneeze, laugh … breathe and you are leaking various bodily fluids from multiple orifices. And at this ‘truly magical time’ when a bit of rest, sleep and pampering would be really beneficial, you have a tiny helpless human that needs you to tend to their eat, poop, sleep repeat cycles approximately every 2 hours throughout day and night. In fact there is no ‘day and night’ anymore; similar to the way that military forces use cycles of sleep deprivation to inflict torture on prisoners of war.
Now this isn’t ‘news’; any parent will relate to this torture, I mean *period of adjustment, and the oh so cutely named ‘baby blues’ that new mothers experience. This is the period of time when its ‘ok’ to cry and feel overwhelmed by everything – from the intense love you feel for this life depending on you, to the fact that you put your knickers on backwards. But if you’re lucky, your hormones will settle, your physical ailments will heal quickly and you will adjust in a matter of weeks. But sometimes you won’t – and that’s ok too.
Hi! If you are here, reading this, either you or somebody you love is going through postnatal depression (PND). There’s no escaping it, it’s a shitty, miserable journey. But first and foremost know that – you are not alone (trying not to sound like a cliché therapist!) I’m not, by the way, I’m in no way an expert on PND or qualified to analyse mental health, I’m just a first-time mum sharing my personal journey. But it is true – there are women out there (far more than I realised) that will relate to what I’m going to write – and that’s why I’m writing. I’m not here to tell you how to deal with PND or dish out parenting advice, you’re likely receiving far too much of that already (part of the problem – I’ll talk about that more later); if all you take away from this blog is a sense that you are not alone, that you are understood, then keep reading! I won’t sugar coat it but I will try to include the positives because, believe it or not, there are positives; or at least ‘lessons I learned’.
To be continued…