Monday, April 11, 2011

How far would you fall before you asked for help?

Asking for help is hard.
It makes you feel weak & dependent.
You don't want to be a burden.
But to admit you need help,
and ask for it,
is a sign of true strength.

After Miss E was born,
everyone told me how much of a great job I was doing.
If they saw my children & I,
they always commented on how well & happy we looked.

But, I wasn't okay.
I was crying for no reason.
I felt completely incapable.
I slept in once, and left Mr. M to bathe, dress & feed the kids,
and when I woke up, I felt like a failure.
I was told my reaction was silly.
He did not mind that I got an extra hour sleep.
"You obviously needed it", he said.
I do not need sleep, I need to harden the fuck up and be a mother, I told myself.

Everyday if something went wrong,
or I wasn't on the ball,
as is often the case when you have a newborn and a 19 month old,
I was in tears,
cursing at myself,
telling myself I was no good.

I had friends, whom I have since spoken to*,
that I envied.
They were calm, they were happy,
their gifts of mothering from Gods.

[*I became aware they thought the same of me. Yet I didn't feel God-like.]

Seeing them, made me tell myself the kidlets deserved better and I needed to lift my game!

Miss E was 6 weeks old.
I knew this wasn't "Baby Blues"
because I had that with Master S,
a moment of sheer exhaustion & tears.

This was more than a moment.
This was an everyday occurance.
In order for my kids to get the 100% care they needed from me,
I needed 5 coffees before 10am,
and I couldn't waste the precious energy I gained from a caffeine boost.
Even for a shower.

This was something else,
but it couldn't have been PND.
My Mum told me I was too hard on myself,
which made me feel worse.
I was doing a shit job,
I couldn't be easy on myself because I didn't deserve it.
I hated me.
I hated my lack of ability.
I didn't have PND because I didn't want to hurt my children.

This went on until my 6 week check-up with Miss E.
My doctor weighed, measured, poked & prodded her.
She was perfect, thriving, doing wonderfully in all departments.

I was asked the stock standard questions.
How's she feeding?
How's your blood loss?
What are your feelings on birth control?
I was left thinking,
Birth control?
Who wants sex when I am a shit parent?
Before I practically begged her,
"I am not coping! Help me, please!"

As a mother of two, I knew I was not normal.
I knew I needed help because I was okay after Master S was born.
 I only knew it wasn't right to feel like this because I'd had a child before and all was swell.

Now, how many mothers have felt like I did, after their first?
How could they know it is not normal?

I wasn't asked how I was,
but I asked for & got help because I knew I needed it.
I am all for preventing pregnancy so soon after giving birth,
but, at a 6 week check-up,
doctors should ask how women are coping.

A five minute chat could hold answers & diagnose someone with PND.
Provide them with information.
Tell them that just because they don't want to shake their newborn,
they could still have PND.
It could get them medication, counselling,
It could prevent the issue building,
thus resulting in something like the horror Jess blogged about.

If a first time Mum feels what I was feeling,
and isn't aware it's abnormal,
how are they meant to get help?
Yes, they could ask, but how are they to know it's abnormal?
How are they to know they aren't bad for feeling that way?
How are they to know what to look for in PND if they've never had children?

I knew I needed help,
but I didn't know I had PND because I didn't want to kill my children.
How mis-informed was I?
Now, had I not asked [and received] help,
How long would it have been before it escalated on me?

How long before I did want to shake my baby?
Did want to kill myself?

The answer of that, I will never know.
But for some mothers,
it becomes a reality.

There is too much stigma surrounding Post Natal Depression.
I heard mothers talking about being diagnosed,
people I admired for their mothering skills,
before I was a sufferer, too.
My assumption was if you had PND,
you were going to, or had planned ways of, killing your baby.
I was ashamed of admitting I had it.
In fact, if I did admit it,
I always said,
"But I don't want to hurt my child!"
in order for people to think less badly of me,
 than I feared they already did.

After I hit the bottom of the deepest, darkest hole I could imagine,
with no inkling of how to climb out,
I want other mothers to be aware it can happen to anyone.
It can happen to mothers who have been trying to have children for years.
It can be as little as condemning yourself for not being perfect.
It can be as major as wanting to kill your child, or yourself, or your partner.

It can grow.
It is normal to be emotional after birthing a child.
Labour is physically and emotionally exhausting.
But it is not normal to feel inadequate all the time.
It is not normal to be hard on yourself for making minor errors.
It is not normal to think you have to be perfect all the time.

It's okay to ask someone, anyone for help.
If you feel lousy,
talk to someone,
and see what someone else thinks you should do.
The odds are,
they know exactly what you feel,
or they know someone who does.

You are a mother,
but you are also a person,
and if you do not feel like you are what your child or children deserve,
then you need a boost to get there.

Asking for help is intimidating,
I know.
Admitting you don't feel strong enough to be a parent is scary.
Scary, because you don't want to be judged or condemned or branded a bad parent.

If you want to be better,
then asking for help to be better,
is the act of an excellent parent.

I know how easy it is to say "get help",
I also know how hard it is to do it.
How far would you fall before you asked for help?

And to anyone out there who knows anyone who has recently had a baby,
along with your congratulations,
make sure you ask them "how are YOU doing?"

By asking that one question,
you could help someone who needs it.

And at the end of the day,
we Mummys all only want one thing,
and that is to be the mothers our children deserve.
To make sure they are safe, happy & loved.
And if you are struggling to take care of yourself,
then taking care of someone else,
is harder.


  1. Great post, Tara.

    It literally took me over six months to realise that crying every day because I didn't feel I was good enough for my boy wasn't normal.

    It's an awful feeling and like you said, how does a first time Mum know that not everyone feels like that? I didn't.


  2. I wish there was an ad. on television.
    An ad. with mothers on there, saying "this is what it was like for me!" and sharing their different experiences with PND, maybe it could help a new parent who develops PND to get some answers about what they are going through.

    I am glad you sought help.
    I am just angry that you had to be in that dark place for 6 months xx

  3. Wonderfully written post. I am so proud of all women, including myself, who speak about their experiences because speaking openly is what it take to remove the stigma.
    Bravo for asking for help. It is a brave step.

  4. I had PND with my first. I had no idea. I had PND for nearly 14 months and still had no idea. People told me once I knew and was better that they thought there was something wrong, when I didn't want to get out of bed, when I suddently weighed a riducilous 44kgs, when I didn't want to see anyone. Nobody said anything when I was at my worst. Why? I don't know. If I had of read something like this during my time of need, a light may have gone off in my head. I may have been able to put an end to it. Now that I am having my second, I am glad that my partner and me have the relationship that we have (he is not my son's father so didnt see any of this happen) as I can talk to him about anything, we often spend hours talking about random things of a night. He know's me better then anyone else, so I trust that he would be able to notice if I was different after the birth of this bub. My son's father, however, didn't notice. He was too busy playing the xbox or drinking at the pub and enjoying his life. I didnt feel comfortable talking to him, and because I didnt feel comfortable talking to anyone else, I was alone. I know no what to look for.