I had my first child at 26. The birth was traumatic and long (72 hours long) and the result of this was a 10 day stay in hospital over Christmas with a very sick baby. Thankfully, he responded well to treatment and we got to go home. By the time he was 8 weeks old, he was giggling (yes, I know, that’s super early!) and he was perfectly healthy and happy. Then my husband got the call to return to sea, to the other side of the world. For 12 weeks. My whole world came crashing down around me. Before he left, I sank into this big dark pit. I struggled to even look at my baby. I could barely bring myself to cuddle him. I stopped eating proper meals and I barely slept. I would sit crying next to his cot at night. I remember taking him for his jabs with my husband days before he had to go to sea. I sat on the chair in the doctor’s, baby on my knee, I couldn’t speak, I just looked at the floor while my baby screamed. I just felt numb. I couldn’t even pretend to be ok by this point. Luckily the GP recognised the signs and got me referred straight away. I had psychiatric nurses out to visit twice a day and phone calls every evening. The antidepressants made me so ill that I couldn’t take them as I had to look after the baby while Justin was at sea. I had counselling and help from my amazing mum and friends.
Eventually, gradually, things improved. It was a long, hard struggle but it did get better. I thought I’d never feel anything ever again, but that eased. I’m now happy 95% of the time.
Remember, it’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to ask for help. If your friend has just had a baby, check in, text, call, offer to help, drop round a cooked meal, little gestures really help, even if they seem fine, it’s really tough being a new parent. If you are struggling, please, please talk to someone. I’m so grateful for the support I received, I probably wouldn’t still be here if I hadn’t got help.