How I enjoyed my post natal depression

Bringing your baby home for the first time is an indescribable feeling. This little person that has been living inside you for a whole 9 months is suddenly on the outside, and they’re a real little human being with real little eyes and eyelashes. And they even come with a cute sneeze. And you just can’t stop staring at them, it feels like you’re in a bit of a dream world for a while.

But those first few weeks are heavy. Really, really heavy. And it seems every Mom I know has suffered with some form of post natal depression, including yours truly. Which is why I really think the term ‘post natal depression’ is just a label for ‘super mom in the making… now hand me a tissue’.

It’s funny because you never hear Mom’s talking about the ‘real’ stuff before you become a Mom. Or you think you don’t.

When they say things like “your life is going to change forever / sleep now while you can / just remember it’ll all be worth it in the end” – you’re like “yes, yes, I know, I know.” But all you really know is that their instagram feed looks adorable, so how bad can it be? I blame valencia.

For me, the heaviness started to creep in during my last few weeks of pregnancy.

I just felt heavy, physically and emotionally. 40 weeks felt like 2 years and then when we hit 40 weeks, he decided he’d take another 16 days. Longest 16 days of my life.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment that I saw his face for the first time, it was red and squished and screaming, and it was him. We finally got to meet. Hashtag firsttimemom. He was here and he was perfect. I was so relieved that ‘the hard part was over’ and our life as a little family could begin.

But the heaviness never left me. It got harder and darker and I felt myself slipping deeper with each day that passed.

I’ve never been very good at pretending things are okay when they’re not, so when friends asked how I was doing, I told them. I told them that I was struggling. That I didn’t know if I was going to make it through this alive, literally. That this was the hardest thing that I had ever had to do and I felt clueless.

And then, they told me too.

They told me how much they cried and all the things they used to do to get through each day. I was shocked. And I felt like a bad friend. (Great, like I needed another thing to feel guilty about!) Why didn’t I know about this? Why did I not see how much they were struggling?

Hearing all their stories helped, a lot. I felt like I was slowly becoming a part of this special secret tribe. Even on the bad days, I remembered their words and slowly, the heaviness began to lift.

Today I took a walk down to the beach with my 6 month old little dude. I felt the fresh air and the sun on my skin, while he sat in the sand and played. Today I looked around me and realised how far we have come together, in just 6 months. It just happens. You don’t have to try.

All you have to do is: Accept.

I think that’s the key to enjoying your post natal depression. Because there will be flickers of light amongst the dark, but you need to be there to notice them. When your baby flashes you a hint of a smile, or when they giggle for the very first time.

Accept your dark days and acknowledge them for what they are NOW. And know that your now will change with every day that passes. And that your baby does love you, more than you could ever imagine.

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And then one day, you’ll wake up before your baby does. And you’ll realize, you’re not tired anymore.

You’ll go to the kitchen and make yourself a cup of tea and you’ll actually sip it, slowly.

And then your baby will wake up, happy.

Welcome to our secret tribe.

Shannon McLaughlin

Author Shannon McLaughlin

Shannon is a mama to her busy little toddler Leo, who is the inspiration behind her business, Ubuntu Baba. She strives to create the simplest and comfiest baby carrier on the market, helping new moms to step out into the world again with confidence, freedom and style.

More posts by Shannon McLaughlin

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • michelle says:

    I shed a few tears whilst reading this, thinking about those early days! They are heavy. Having a baby is a wonderful, beautiful miracle, but as a mom we go through some tough times. It isn’t always puffs of baby powder and cotton wool balls, its sometimes tears, panic, fear and heartache. Saying this I wouldn’t change my life with my little angel for anything. Thank you for your honest words.

  • Deb Zed says:

    Lovely! Not that I would ever want to be a member of your secret tribe … but still lovely 🙂 xx

  • Ewa says:

    ….I remember that so well….I call it the dark space … and the sad thing is even if you try to explain it to a woman you will feel like you are ahead of time. It is not the RIGHT time to tell a woman when she is pregnant about the dark lonely space because they will not hear you…. It is important that you are there when you see the signs of depression or sleep depravation or frustration…. because you have seen the signs and you know the dark space….you need to be there and you will – be kind…in your way….In your beautiful writing or any other way all the mama’s out there can be there for each other. Be present and do not ignore the sign. Ask in a loving way if you can be of help even for a short while. Life is so beautiful and precious specially a new mama and her newborn they need support love and care.
    Sending love-always 🙂

  • MB says:

    This post makes me bawl:(
    My eldest son is 3 years old but the wounds of my battle with post natal depression have only started to heal.

    In the community im from. Post natal depression is a taboo topic. I remember hearing people discuss me, all too quick to brand me with the labels of insanity/overprotective mother who never let anyone else look after her baby.

    No one noticed that I was out of character, everyones eyes were only on my precious son, no one saw me slip into the abyss of depression. Between breastfeeding latching problems, being told I have no milk and was starving my baby, it all seemed like too much. (Mind you I breastfed my son for 2 full years despite being told that I should formula feed because he wasnt latching. We worked and worked and after bruised, bleeding nipples, eventually he got the hang of it).

    With my hubbys crazy schedule, I was alone for most of the day with a crying baby who suffered from colic and sensory disorders, where the tiniest thing like a texture or smell could set him off into crying spells that felt like hours.

    It was only when the thoughts of ending my own life became so severe that I confided in someone who contacted my family.

    I had my second son earlier this year and was unlucky enough to suffer from post natal depression again, this time on a slightly more intense level, although he never suffered from colic and was an amazingly good baby. My eldest son still did most of the crying, and has a severe fear of food. He will only eat a jam or peanut butter sandwich. I tried every food, therapy, whatever I could, he just refused to eat. Once again the label of incompetent mother was thrown onto my shoulders. It was me who wasnt trying hard enough to feed him.The feeling of being overwhelmed and needing to escape resurfaced again.

    When the topic was discussed with a family member, to ask for understanding in this time and to allow us our space, I was told that I was being dramatic, and that I wasnt the first woman to give birth, everyone else managed and there should be no reason why I wasnt managing everything. I had never felt so belittled, so angry and upset at this insensitivity towards something that I had no control over.

    Im really happy that you have a tribe of mommas that are there for you.
    There are many mums that go through post natal depression and have no one to turn to for support.

    A big thumbs up to the mommas keeping it real about the dark days.
    Wish I had seen this when I needed it the most.

    2 thumbs up to my hubby, who stood by me through all of this. I never would’ve started healing without this phenomenal mans support.

    • I can relate to so much of what you’re saying in this comment. Thank you for sharing it so openly, I’m sure many Moms will relate. I’m so glad the post helped somewhat. Big love to you and I wish for all woman to have such a supportive man by their side. Much love, you’re doing so well. xx

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