You can read from the start here
After having Boo, I was lucky to have my husband at home for the first 5 weeks. I don’t remember much of that time. At the time, it felt like the clock had slowed down but now it seems like such a blur. It would have been a good idea to try and get napping sorted during this time but I was so anxious I desperately clung to Boo at all times. She napped in my arms or in the pushchair if we were out of the house. We barely left the house though. I felt overwhelmingly tired completing the most simple tasks so I just stayed cooped up at home. On the sofa. Immobile.
At this stage, I was gripped by post natal anxiety but the post natal depression was about to hit …
After 5 weeks, M returned to work and suddenly I had to do it all alone. There was no one to make me cups of tea. No one to talk to. No one to take over when I couldn’t calm the tears. Now there was a new feeling alongside my anxiety: resentment. How could such a tiny being take up so much of my time? I started wanting her to be asleep all the time. When she woke up, I felt like I was in a crowded room full of people shouting. Her cries were like finger nails on a chalk board. Any noise she made grated. She pooed, breastfed and screamed. And I hated it.
It’s awful to admit that. But that’s the reality of how I felt.
Mothering felt like hard work with no reward. Each time she woke up I set a mental countdown timer to the next time she would fall asleep. I begrudgingly changed her nappies, smiled at her, talked, showed her toys and books … but it was all through gritted teeth.
I didn’t enjoy any of it. And my conclusion: I was the worst mother ever and my daughter was never going to smile. At the time, I didn’t associate how I felt with post natal depression. I had heard horror stories of people with PND not even being able to hold their babies. People hating their babies. People neglecting their babies. That wasn’t me … I hated myself and I did lots for her. I just didn’t enjoy it.
But on reflection, I was very depressed. There was no joy. My daughter didn’t smile for 12 weeks. Probably because she didn’t know what a smile was.
As the weeks ticked by, it became harder and harder to get Boo to nap. She only ever napped in my arms because if I put her down she would only sleep for a few minutes and her waking up sent me into a pit of despair. So once she was asleep, she stayed in my arms. If she woke up, she immediately had a boob shoved in her mouth until she drifted off again. And on the days that boob didn’t work, I walked. I live an hour’s walk from town. I regularly walked there and back twice in a day. The only time I stopped was when she woke screaming for milk. I fed her at the bus stop. I changed her nappy on the verge. I didn’t stop to think that what I was doing was a little bit crazy. I did it because it was the only option I could bear. And I had to bear it because what else can you do? I’d tried ignoring the cries and going to another room but it felt like someone was drilling into my brain so I had to find a way to get through the day. So I walked. And got Boo to sleep for as long as possible.
Of course this meant she never slept at night.
And she had terrible sleep associations so could only sleep near me with boob on tap.
This continued like this until Boo was about 4 months old. The reason I stopped was because it was too cold! For me, it was the hardest time of parenthood. I had been taking antidepressants and going to CBT and they were starting to help. But I still had a way to go. Luckily, Christmas was just round the corner and the festive season gave me a project and a distraction. I finally had something else to focus on.