Before I had my eldest son, 6 years ago, I knew it would be hard, I knew everything would change, and I knew nothing would ever be the same again. But did I really? Before I gave birth, I had control over every aspect of my life, when I left for work, when I left work for home, popping out for brunch/lunch/coffee (you know, when you just check your make up, grab your handbag, and just, well, leave the house....Ha!). If I wanted to apply for a promotion at work, or volunteer for a new project, I just did, I didn't have to think of someone else's needs first, and then suffer agonies of mum-guilt (whichever decision I made). I made spur of the moment decisions to head to the gym, or out for dinner. And so on, you know!
Getting pregnant gives you a taste of 'losing control' (and not just of your bladder), overwhelming tiredness stops you from the last-minute dinner date, and an achy back puts you off a cinema trip. But it doesn't prepare you nearly enough, and neither does everyone telling you that it would be hard. It's not that I didn't listen, I just had no idea quite how much losing control and suddenly being responsible for every need that this little person had would affect me. It was crushingly overwhelming. We had a longer stay in hospital due to some feeding issues, so I don't think it really hit me until we got home, and we were on our own. We muddled through, but there were a lot of tears, anxiety and fear that I wasn't bonding with him. The realisation that everything had changed really hit home about 2 weeks in, when I realised that the baby blues were lasting longer. I carried on until the 6-week check, and after a good chat with my doctor, I realised that what I was suffering from wasn't just usual baby blues, I had postnatal depression. Just the relief of giving how I was feeling a name, and talking to someone about it, being reassured that it was super common and normal made me feel a million times better. I went on a low dose anti-depressant, something I wasn't sure about at all, but after doing a bit of research and another chat with the doctor, I decided to give them a shot.
Things got better and better after that. I still got no sleep, it was still impossible to make plans without the tiny dictator changing them, but I coped with it all ok, I really started to enjoy this little person. I came off the anti-depressants after 6 months or so, and I've been fine since. When my second son came along, I was a little nervous that it would come back, but I was fine.
PND can happen to anyone, however tough you are, however, well you've dealt with work or life stresses before, and that's totally ok.