Before I had my daughter I did worry as to whether I’d get postnatal depression and whether I’d cope or not with being a mum. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t take to motherhood or that I’d do something ridiculous.
When she was born it was discovered she had symbrachydactyly on her left hand. My heart broke for her, she was so tiny and this hand looked even tinier. I know in the grand scheme of things that what she has is nothing compared to other children, but I worried more about whether she’d be picked on or bullied when she got older. I’ve never let her think it should hold her back, she is also a determined little thing and won’t let it hold her back either. It might take her longer to do stuff sometimes but we persevere and find a way around most things. She just refers to it as “my little hand” and all the children she’s been with through nursery and school have just accepted it, and occasionally asked questions.
I was fine whilst off on maternity. I loved being a mum and my daughter was the most precious thing ever to me. She is so beautiful. I knew I was too overprotective of her as I hated her being passed around and I hated it when she was away from me. I hated not being in control if she went to stay at her grandparents or someone took her out for the day. I used to check in the night that she was still breathing. Her perfect little, angelic face made me agonise over her to a ridiculous point.
So my problems started when I went back to work full time after 6 months. I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt at leaving her. It was a horrible feeling to go from being with her constantly to not being with her for the majority of the day. She was so small, I didn’t want to leave her with anyone. She was mine, I should have been looking after her. I should have been teaching her things, not someone else. I’d picture all kinds of scenarios in my head that would happen to her because I wasn’t there to look after her. Ridiculous scenarios – like someone breaking into nursery and stealing her. That guilt started to niggle away at me. I knew I was starting to get depressed and the health visitor was called, she said she’d ring me back (still waiting, 4 years on).
Due to the problem with her hand, she also had a lot of hospital appointments to try and find out if there was a cause for why she had symbrachydactyly. I ended up having to take a lot of days off to go to hospital appointments and my work just seemed to pile up and get on top of me. I hate not being able to do my job properly. It makes me feel like a huge failure and I panic over it.
Eventually the being away from my daughter and my work piling up, due to going to hospital appointments, made me reach breaking point and I just sat in the toilet cubicle at work and sobbed for ages. I knew when I went home that I needed help, so went to the doctors the next day. He was lovely and asked all kinds of questions. I was put on anti depressants and signed off work. I was also referred to a counsellor. I hate talking about my feelings, I’m fine with writing stuff down but I can’t ever get it out verbally what I want to say. The sessions did help though and it made me put some things into perspective. I was off work for 6 weeks in total. I had to force myself to go back in because the longer I left it, the harder it would have been. It felt horrible going back. I thought everyone would just be watching me and sniggering, but they didn’t. It is now affectionately referred to as “when I went nuts”. It does help to joke about it rather than see it solely as a massive low point.
I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% calm and rational. I think that comes with being a mum though. I do still constantly panic about my daughter and when the baby arrives I’m sure I’ll be just as bad with him. I also have my little mini meltdowns when things get too much, but we’ve got a lot going on at the moment. I think I handle things a bit better than I did back then. I mean, I’ve not been signed off work for starters.
I’m lucky enough to have a lot of support around me and a close family. I think that can be the best medicine sometimes in situations like these.