From the beginning, I felt like a failure: My struggle with postnatal depression

So, I'm writing this post not sure why or what I plan to achieve from doing so but nothing ventured nothing gained...

My beautiful and most wanted baby boy was born on the 30th of December a few years ago . Although, I did not enjoy pregnancy due to a million and one complications, one thing I knew I was so excited to become a Mammy. So rumour has it if you have a tough pregnancy you'll have an easy birth... well whoever said that to me you're lucky I can't remember. I had hoped for the “perfect natural vaginal birth” but things didn't go to plan.

Long story short after a 3-day induction Oisín was born at 15.56 by emergency c-section. Of course, I loved him, sure I loved him the minute I heard his heartbeat at his 6-week scan.

Yes, I was emotional. However, this instant gush of love or bond I had expected didn't happen. As I was being stitched back up my wonderful husband had Oisín all to himself. Bittersweet, as I believe those precious moments alone were the making of the best daddy he could ask for.

Once I was brought to the recovery room I was asked to feed Oisín but he didn't want to latch. The nurses took his blood sugar levels and with a blink of an eye, he was rushed off for close monitoring. I was brought back to my room and my family arrived.

Apparently, my dad bounded up two steps at a time but he just wanted to make sure I was ok. Finally, after what felt like an eternity my baby was brought to my bedside and I got to count his fingers and toes! Not long after my family and husband left a nurse checked Oisín’s blood sugars and they had dropped again. She whisked him away, where he spent two nights in special care. Now, don't get me wrong, I know there are mothers and babies in worse situations than us.

However, from the beginning, I felt like a failure.

If I am honest, the newborn phase is a blur. I had the best baby fed 4-hourly, he barely cried and he brought joy to everyone around him except me.

Unfortunately, my dream of breastfeeding him never really became a reality. I had imagined having this amazing journey and a special bond but unfortunately, he wouldn't latch even after having his tongue tie re-released. I exclusively pumped for six weeks until I decided I was too much of an emotional wreck to continue.

For myself and my baby, I needed to develop some kind of normality that wasn't me feeling like a cow who couldn't leave the barn for more than an hour!... Although ending this journey was my decision I still had doubts. I felt I was failing as the “perfect mother" and should have persevered for longer.

As the weeks went on, things didn't improve. I had and still have the most amazing support network (I'll post about who they are another day) yet I still felt awful. 

I would then feel guilty for feeling that way and beat myself up then feel even worse. I would cry at the smallest thing, snap or bite someone’s head off for no reason, say horrible and nasty things that I didn't mean. I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore... and I am still trying to figure that one out.

Sometimes I would get so overwhelmed I felt like I couldn't breathe. I would get flashbacks and couldn't sleep. I lacked confidence, self-esteem and felt like a terrible mother. Enough was enough and with the encouragement and support of my husband and my mum, I went to my G.P and I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and Postnatal Depression (PND).

I was started on medication and with the help of family and friends, and a holiday to Spain I began to have a somewhat normal life. Things were good. I made new friends, met up with old friends, started crafting (never again!!!), went to playgroups. I began enjoying Oisín and life again!

After six months I was weaned off the medication. I thought I felt good and was determined to get back to work. I returned back to work working fewer hours. Things were manageable at first. My mam was minding Oisín and I told myself I just needed to develop a routine. However, as time went by my anxiety began to spiral, my confidence as a nurse had reached an all-time low and I questioned my ability daily. I would put on a brave face but inside I was screaming.

On the worst days/nights, I would go cry in the bathroom. With over 10 years experience I knew this wasn't me. At home I was panicking over silly things, losing my patience, obsessing over cleaning but no energy or motivation to do it or anything, my flashbacks and nightmares (if I managed to sleep) came back with a bang, my confidence as a mother was shot, I had become that nasty short-tempered person again.

I felt so alone (sometimes I still do) but I would make excuses not to meet friends and stay in my pyjamas all day. I hated myself and felt the world was better off without me. At one point I walked out on my husband and baby and drove to the Blessington lakes. I came home that night and starred at a rake of tablets but I couldn't bring myself to take them not because I am weak, because I AM STRONG, I AM NOT A FAILURE, I AM NOT POSTNATAL DEPRESSION AND I WILL OVERCOME THIS.

I spoke with my husband and the next day we went to the doctor. I was re-started on medication and sleeping tablets. I was referred to a mental health team. I am under the care of a psychiatrist and a nurse comes out to my house twice a week. My medication dose has been tripled. I go for counselling weekly, have joined a yoga class and I make myself get up and get out of the house every day. I have asked for help from family and friends. I might look like I am okay, but I am scared, I am vulnerable, I feel I am failing as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, nurse and friend. I don't know who I am anymore every day us a struggle.

"However, one thing is for sure I know Oisín needs his mammy and I won't give up on him. I love him with all my heart. Our bond is growing and it needs nurturing."

If you got this far thanks for reading. There is enough stigma around mental health and PND. Although you can't see my illness, I am still hurting the same as someone with a visible scar. I am having a lot more good days and they say time is a healer so there is hope for me! I never in a million years thought I would suffer from Postnatal Depression but it affects 1 in 7 Irish women. So, if you are going through or have gone through something similar and you would like to chat send me a message I'll always have an open ear. Don't be ashamed and seek help.

Thanks again for reading.

Love Bróna

I'm Bróna, a first time mammy and nurse battling post natal depression who is passionate about ending the stigma.