Sunday 17 March 2019

19, A New Baby and Postnatal Depression.

Falling pregnant at 18 wasn't exactly what I had planned as I was about to leave college. In fact falling pregnant or having a baby wasn't something I had ever really thought about. Me and my partner had been together two years and were both still living at home when we saw those two clear lines on the test and instantly felt panic.

(Photo credit to Emily from A Slummy Mummy)

You see we are led to believe that falling pregnant is always this magical experience, that we should always be excited and happy, counting down the days until we can tell the world and meet our new baby. But in reality that isn't always the case, especially when a baby isn't planned! I was 18, scared out of my mind and confused with the million questions and thoughts that immediately flooded my mind.

I don't think I really admitted to myself I was pregnant until I was about 5 months along in my pregnancy and I finally had to admit it to my parents, my work and myself. We started looking for a place of our own to rent and coming to terms with the fact we were going to be parents!

After this the pregnancy and life in general seemed to zoom by, it was like telling the world about our impending arrival had pressed fast forward on life and everything seemed so important with so little time to get it all done. As we were renting we couldn't really "decorate" a nursery but we did set up a cot, purchase a moses basket and start putting together a draw full of super cute outfits and tiny baby hats. Even with all this going on around me, im not quite sure I had really even realised I was about to become a mum, about to bring a tiny human into the world and I would be responsible for that baby.

On Saturday 10th October I woke to some period type pains, doubting that this would actually be it after months of Braxton hicks I tried to sleep (unsuccessfully of course!) and after a long 24 hour + labour and a few moments of worry with some heart rate dipping moments on the monitor, James was brought into the world kicking, screaming and letting us all know he was here!

But you see that's where the typical labour story that you hear changed for me. I was absolutely shattered, I could barely keep my eyes open and don't think I had even come round to the full realisation I had just given birth. The midwives quickly placed James onto my chest and I panicked, I was certain I would drop him and in my sleep deprived state I asked them to take him. Of course this started ringing alarm bells in the midwives heads I am sure.

James was born at 4.27pm and I didn't hold him until around 9pm that evening after my husband had left and we had been shown our room on the post natal ward. It wasn't that I didn't love him, or want to see his squishy cheeks but I just felt overwhelmed by the whole situation, had I really just had a baby!? Was I really now a mum!? The weight of responsibility had landed on my shoulders like a ton of bricks and I was struggling to cope under the pressure of it.

Over our time on the ward various doctors, nurses and midwives came into the room offering advice, taking notes and trying to be helpful which was great but I hated asking for help. Every time I had to ask it felt like another failure, like someone would be slipping out the door and scribbling notes about how I couldn't cope. Of course now I know that's not true and that those doctors, nurses and midwives are real life superheroes, they are there to help us new mums, they want us to ask the questions and they want to send us home feeling positive and happy but at the time I just hadn't realised this and its probably one of the things I wish I had known as a new mum, that no question is too silly, no ask too big and no task too silly to ask for help with.

On the day we were released from hospital I felt totally overwhelmed, I still had so many questions that I was too scared to ask and the idea that I was going to be taking a baby home with me felt like a dream still. I still remember standing at the big hospital doors as the midwives let us out and pausing for a moment, taking that step outside the door was the first step into real life parenting, a journey I wasn't convinced I was ready for.

Prepared or not I am sure most parents have that same thought, you get home and put the baby down and then think …. ok so what now!? The last few days are a whirlwind of flashbacks of indescribable pain, worry, stress and a huge learning curve. Then suddenly you are out in the big wide world all on your own but now you have a tiny human to care for too.

I was just 19 at the time, my partner 20 and neither of us had a clue what to do. We had read the books, been to the anti-natal classes with our midwife but nothing quite prepares you for the reality of parenthood that a baby in your arms.

Now that 9 years have passed its a bit easier to look back and really see how much I was struggling but at the time I just couldn't see it. The midwives kept telling me it was baby blues and friends kept telling me how happy I should be because my new baby was so cute. I felt broken, like what was wrong with me, why wasn't I happy, why wasn't my baby enough to lift my mood, was I just a really crap mum?.

For the first few days I tried to push the feelings to the back of mind, I felt guilty for feeling so down when everyone around me was so happy just to cuddle my new baby. But the feelings soon crept up on me, me and my partner argued all the time over silly little things. I would spend days on end shut away in the house with the curtains drawn and in my pyjamas, not answering the door or phone calls and making excusing to cancel plans. Then I would feel guilty that my baby had been stuck in and then the thoughts of being a bad parent would come back and it was like a vicious cycle of guilt, worry and stress.

I would beg my husband not to leave for work, worried I wasn't enough for our new baby and I felt like without him there I just couldn't cope. That something bad would happen or that I wasn't enough for our new baby boy.

It took 6 long months to finally pluck up the courage to head to the doctors. I walked into that waiting room and felt like I had failed. I had this beautiful baby boy and yet here I was about to tell the world I couldn't cope. That I felt sad all the time, that I wasn't even sure what happiness felt like anymore, that I had failed at being a parent and nothing felt right anymore. I thought she would dismiss me, turn me away or worse take my baby away for good, confirming all my worst fears.

But do you know what, walking through that door and letting everything out was such a release. It felt so good (and emotional) to finally tell someone exactly how I felt and to hear the words "I can help" back. They didn't want to take my baby or judge me but they wanted to help, they could help and I was so relieved. Now im not saying it was a quick fix of course, I started anti depressants and I had CBT counselling.

But after a few years I felt strong enough to come off of them and 5 years later we had our second baby and this time I felt strong, powerful and confident. Not because I knew that the depression wouldn't come back but because I knew I could ask for help, because I knew that even on the dark days there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.

I guess what I really want to say is that its ok not to be ok! That sometimes becoming a parent or having a baby isn't like in the books you read, the films you watch or even like your friends experience.

They say you forget the pain, the stress, the sleepless nights but I don't think that's true. Those days are well and truly etched on my brain and I am pretty sure they are there to stay. But in a way I am glad. They are the memories that make me realise how hard it was, but I got through it. They make me realise that asking for help isn't failing, if anything its succeeding in letting others help you become the best version of you.

Every journey into and through parenthood is different, some are hard and difficult and stressful and some will seem much easier. But every journey is yours, its unique and amazing and totally mind blowing all in one day. It will turn you into someone you never even new was inside and it will make you question the choices you have made, who your true friends are and what kind of parent you want to be. But one thing it will almost always do is make you realise exactly what true love feels like, and sometimes that isn't always happiness and rainbows but in times when you need it most, its there because deep down its always there from the moment you meet your child for the very first time even if you didn't feel it at the time.

If you ever need someone to talk to you can always reach out to me on social media or my email (in the contact me section), even when it feels like it you are never alone and there is always someone there to listen.



  1. Thank you for such an honest post about your experiences! I think all these problems are more common than people realise, but perhaps most people are too embarrassed to admit it

  2. I was 34 when I had my first child, having believed for most of my adult life that I couldn't have them. I felt a bit like you did - it was just too much to take in, overwhelming. But we've got there haven't we :) x

  3. As someone who would like to have a child in the not too distant future, I really value your honesty in this post xxx

  4. It's such a false perception that pregnancy, delivery and motherhood are all flowers and rainbows. I struggled with prenatal depression with both my boys once they were born I was absolutely fine but during pregnancy I was miserable. It's a huge thing for our bodies and minds to go through.

  5. I can remember those early days as a new mum, so incredibly lonely as the world around portrays that mothers instincts should just kick in but it's such an overwhelming time

  6. I remember the early days of motherhood being very tired. The days went very quickly though. I enjoyed reading your experience.

  7. Thank you for sharing this, I think find that most of us have this idea in our heads that it will work like in the movies. Thanks for your honesty.

  8. I'm really sorry you struggled after your eldest was born, but I really appreciate you sharing such an honest post. I'm sure that many people can relate to what you've said and your words of encouragement!

  9. Nothing can prepare you for that feeling of not having a clue what to do when you take your baby home. I was 30 when I had my first baby and found it utterly terrifying! I'm glad you had a better experience second time around.

  10. I am so sorry you went through this, I am sure your story will help others that are feeling the same. I think it affects so many more people than we realise. Your honesty will really help them x

  11. So sorry to hear you suffered from this. hopefully your post and honesty will hep those who need it.

  12. My cousin had prenatal depression before her first child. It was a tough time for her and so many people go through it. It’s amazing that you feel you can share your story so honestly - it will help a lot of folk going through a pretty common thing.

  13. Those early days are the hardest arent they, not sure you are doing everything right and questioning everything!

  14. I’ve had depression and anxiety for years and when I was pregnant this was one of my fears that I wouldn’t be able to love my daughter or cope. I like you found the birth and aftermath of becoming a mum incredibly overwhelming and as we had to spend 2 weeks in hospital after my birth both me and my daughter had health issues I did get really down. Help is always there for everyone x

  15. I had my daughter at 18 and had no experience of children and babies and was on my own, so really struggled. Thank goodness I had some amazing friends around me

  16. This is such an important topic to be sharing and hopefully someone feeling the same will realise that’s it’s ok to ask for help and that it’s there for them.

  17. You are helping so many people by simply sharing your story and helping to break the stigma. Thank you for sharing and I’m glad to see you’re doing great x

  18. I had PND with all of mine and got incredibly poorly at one point, and was admitted to hospital. There is no shame in admitting it, I think it's brave to share our stories.