I'm having one of my low days so thought I'd write this, please bear with me if it doesn't make sense!
Although it felt like I had a horrendous pregnancy, compared to other's stories mine was relatively straightforward, but that didn't make me hate it any less. At 5 weeks when i took the home test i was elated, despite the pregnancy being unplanned. I was reading up on week by week foetus progress and excitedly telling close friends and family. But at 7 weeks I started bleeding and i was convinced i had miscarried. However an emergency scan revealed my little one was fine, but i had a bicornuate uterus which came with a whole load of horror stories that I couldn't help but read up on. By 12 weeks awful 'morning' sickness made me unable to eat in the evenings, leaving me exhausted all the time so I became unsocial. I coped with pregnancy at this time, though I was filled with constant worry that I would miscarry, and resentment for nothing being perfect like all the other mums stories i had read. This was not aided by my consultant telling me my cervix wouldn't be strong enough and my uterus not big enough to hold a baby full term due to my condition.
Everything got considerably worse when my antenatal depression set in at around 20 weeks. These problems were enough to ruin what should have been a happy/ exciting time, but my moods made everything worse. We were unable to find out the sex of our little one like we planned and I left buying anything baby related until 32weeks (when I was told I was most likely going to have a preterm labour) simply because I believed I'd miscarry, though i told everyone else it was because i didn't have the money. I have very few pictures of me during the nine months of pregnancy because the sight of my body made me sick (even more than the morning sickness) so I avoided cameras and mirrors like the plague. Seeing other peoples cute pregnancy photos left me feeling down, disgusting and guilty so I avoided all baby related books, classes and blogs. Because i hadn't brought much, many friends and family began buying stuff themselves for me, or digging stuff out of their lofts. I tried to be grateful, but seeing baby stuff in my flat made me miserable, and i didn't have the storage to hide it away. I also grew to despise my changing body so much i had regular moments of wishing to harm it, as well as a lack of any bond with my bump. I got slightly better on antidepressants in my last few weeks so I had enough time to buy everything I needed and actually pick out a few names that didn't invoke some sort of negative emotion. But then our finances took a severe hit as my partner was made redundant a fortnight before my due date and he shut himself off from me emotionally. I felt utterly alone and with no money and no motivation to peruse past hobbies, so I was unable to pull myself out from feeling awful.
My 30 various hospital/doctors/midwife/consultant appointments I had to monitor my cervix, yoyoing blood pressure and 'too small' uterus constantly got me down. Every one of them filled me with dread beforehand and terror after as every time I was told yet another horror story regarding my uterus abnormality. Instead of gleaming delightedly at my blurry scans, i was busy researching online whatever new problem they told me i would encounter or that they had discovered and convincing myself that nothing would work out in my favour. Despite all these gloom and doom professionals mainly telling me my labour would come early and take an agonising amount of time, my little one was born only a day early after a relatively short 12 hour natural labour from the first proper contraction. My screaming red potato was a healthy 3.1kg and I was only pushing for just over 2 hours without any pain relief. At first I was elated that I managed to defy everyone's expectations that I would end up having a c section after a long hard and drug filled labour, but then as sods law dictates, everything went downhill. I had a retained placenta due to my bicornuate uterus and I couldn't put up with the agony of having the midwife's arm up inside me trying to scrape it out (even with the gas and air I succumbed to but it did nothing) so my short cuddle with my slimy new-born was cut short as I was rushed down to theatre to have a spinal block and manual removal.
I believed things could only get better from there. I was previously told my antenatal depression would clear up and I would instantly love the alien placed in my arms, but it didn't. At one point I wondered if they had given my the wrong baby, even though she looked similar to many of the babies in my family. I felt awfully guilty and selfish that I hated her for misshaping my body and dictating my life for the past 9 months and hated her more for her need for me constantly and forever. I just wanted to escape or give her back but of course I was duty bound to care for her. It should've been a wonderful time out from the world to bond with my baby being stuck in hospital for 2 days as I recovered but instead my resentment grew as I struggled to breastfeed and bond with her. I couldn't sleep as she was crying every hour to be fed, and breast feeding was excruciating. Even when she wasn't feeding my brain just wouldn't shut up. I felt awful that I put off feeding her for as long as I could and kept feeds as short as I could so I could put her back down again. I loved having visitors so they could take her from my bedside.
As much as I was hoping it would solve everything to go home, it didn't. I was tired and sick of pretending to be coping and happy to visitors when in reality my mood was only getting worse than ever. It was rare occurrence to get through a few days without wishing to carve my skin into red ribbons or stab at my new flabby bits. My stretch marks only seemed to encourage me. I dressed in long pjs for the first few weeks as much as I could despite the hot June weather to cover up my hideous new body from myself and because I simply hadn't got the motivation or time to wear anything different. I was angry all the time and took it out on my partner who seemed too distant and unsupportive, pushing us to breaking point on multiple occasions. I was desperate for everyone to think i was coping well and my baby was perfect but by day five I had already had a meltdown and quit breastfeeding, preferring the much less painful and regular formula, and also being able to give her to others for feeds. But I was racked with guilt for giving in, hating my baby even more for costing me more money that we didn't have. Although my health visitor reassured me I wasn't just being a wimp or doing things wrong and that it was in fact my baby's tongue tie that was causing me pain during breastfeeding, this only made me blame her and resent her more. The fact my milk didn't dry up for two weeks caused me more pain and irritation, but gave me more of an excuse to hand her to others as my boobs grotesquely leaked like overgrown zits every time I went to bottle feed her.
I frequently wished I could complain about the constant smell of shit/vomit that my new-born excreted constantly but everyone was busy cooing over the famous baby smell that made me nauseous to hear about. I felt an immense amount of shame for my lack of mothering instinct and love for my child, changing and feeding purely because I couldn't stand the smell or sound of her and out of fear people would judge me. I did it because I felt duty bound to when no one else would, not out of love and care.
As I expected and feared, people still criticized me for many things. My daughter stayed at her nans over night twice before 7 weeks so I could have a break, which many said was too early. I often left her to cry in the hope someone else would deal with her, and people were surprised when I'd blurt out criticisms of my baby's appearance. Eventually I admitted to a doctor how awful things were getting. Not only did I not have a bond with my child, I was also having frequent anxiety attacks in public with her and my suicidal and self harming thought were only growing stronger. I worried i'd do something stupid when I was alone with my child, either to myself or her. Despite her sleeping through the night regularly by 7 weeks it still took me hours to settle and I barely slept more than 2 hours at a time due to awful dreams or periodically jolting myself awake. I blamed lack of proper sleep and 'baby brain' for goldfish memory and my inability to concentrate on any task, or hold a conversation. I resented my child and was convinced she hated me even more; most days i felt unable to comfort her while she screamed and whenever i was desperate to get out the flat to prevent myself doing anything stupid she'd vomit or poop just as we were heading out: I was convinced she was doing it on purpose despite being so young.
The doctors have since upped my dosage of antidepressants and despite initially yo-yoing between extreme highs and lows, I did begin to bond with my baby. Me and my partner have become a team again and everything seems much easier to cope with. It felt like a break through when my daughter and i were alone and she smiled at me and I smiled back instinctively, rather than because someone was watching.
Now, I always smile when my daughter smiles, she smells nice even when she's exploded mustard up her back (though I won't deny her poop still reeks), I can play with her because I want to not because I feel I have to, and I cuddle with her randomly because I want to, not just to shut her up (though now I often get the 'spoilt baby' warnings). I still get my low days and anxiety attacks but my partner is supportive and understanding and knows how to help now. I'm still on the antidepressants for now, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it's such a relief. My panic attacks are getting easier to cope with and I no longer care about what people think as much: My baby comes first now and I'll raise her how I like and how I feel is best for my family. I'm happy to say I truly love her now and it makes thing a whole lot simpler <3
Hopefully this post helps other mums realise they're not alone whether they suffer from depression or not and that becoming a parent isn't always perfect but it does get better, though it often doesn't feel that way!
ps, one of my only 3 'bump pictures'!