“The baby keeps vomiting at random times”
“I found him in his cot covered in spew”
“Is it an allergy”?
“What am I doing wrong”?
“I am unable to think clearly, I do not know where to start. I am so extremely tired”
“Why are you tired”? he calmly asks.
“The baby does not sleep. I cannot sleep” I worryingly reply.
I feel the tears come then, the lump in my throat forces the trickle of salty water out. Like rain over a drought stricken land.
“Do you cry often? ”
“No I do not” I reply positively
My baby was nine months old. I had slowly been introducing him to solids and in my mind it was not going well. I was doing something wrong and it was stressing me out.
It turned out the baby was fine. Many things can cause the tummy of a small child to become upset. He was crawling around on the doctors surgery floor, excitedly exploring his new surroundings. We did not get out of the house often and he was happy to be in a new place with new faces.
The mother on the other hand, she was lost, confused and exhausted.
This calm and observant doctor convinced me to return the next day to talk. “Talk about what” I reply. “Post Natal Depression”. I was finding it hard to understand what he was saying. I had been doing ok. The doctor gave me a leaflet on PND to read.
I returned home and told my partner that the baby was fine but that the doctor thinks I am depressed. His response was “I do not think you are” You see, I had been managing. I had been able to do enough at home to keep us afloat. I had been able to do the washing and I was just about able to scratch a meal together, but we were surviving. I was just tired!
The next day I returned to my Doctor. He asked if I had read the leaflet and what I thought of it. I tell him that it made me cry. I could recognise the signs and symptoms in myself. It scared me. I had no idea. I thought these feelings of struggling and the tiredness were normal.
I take a test the “Edinburgh PND” scale. It was another little bit of evidence to prove his hunch. We talk. Me depressed ? Have you not read my blog? It is full of sunshine and lollipops. I am able to see the joy. I am writing stories about it every day.
“You do not understand” I implore, “I am a good mother”
“I am not doubting you mother skills” he gently replies.
I respond “I give….
“You give 110%” He finishes my sentence, for not the first time that afternoon.
Before leaving he asks me if I feel better now. “No” I reply. I felt worse, I could not understand I thought I was doing ok.
We returned again the following day both my partner and I. This professional and thorough doctor wanted to explain to my partner what I had been going through. That I was not lazy and perhaps give a reason as to why I had been irritable and angry.
I was feeling vulnerable and confused. I felt like I had a giant label on my head. I was finding it hard to distinguish a normal behaviour or thought from a depressed one. I felt as if someone had convinced me I was mad and as a result I became mad. I read the symptoms for PND. Suddenly I felt every single one of them.
The doctor explained that many women with PND will say they do not feel depressed. That they have nothing to be depressed about. It is more of an anxiety than a depression.
Then it started to make a little more sense. I had flashbacks of me lying in bed nine months previous. A perfect newborn all snuggled up in his bassinet next to me. There I was feeling so incredibly sad and lonely. I had no idea why. My mum had flown over from Ireland to help me with my three year old until we found our feet again. I found the daytime manageable. However as soon as night fell a sense of dread would surround me. The thought of the night ahead, the thought of me having to stay awake and feed my baby while the world slept. I hated it, I hated those lonely nights. It never crossed my mind there was a word or a reason for my unexplained sadness.
It was when my baby was ten weeks old that we received a phone call. One of those phone calls from a nightmare. My Dad had suffered a stroke and we had to return to Ireland to see him as soon as possible.
My feelings were then put on hold. We had to be there for my Dad.
I stayed in Ireland with my boys for three months. Here I was three months after returning from Ireland. Being told I was suffering from Post Natal Depression.
I was lucky that day. That day I took my baby to see the doctor. I was so incredibly lucky that I saw this doctor. He has 20+ years experience in treating women with PND. He knew the signs. He was not even my personal GP. I usually take my boys to see him. I was meant to walk into his office that day.
Tune in next Tuesday where I will work through with you what exactly those symptoms and feelings were. I will try paint a picture of the inner turmoil that kept me awake at night.