My name is Ivana and I am a mother to two amazing gorgeous twin boys Henry and Mason.
I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for my amazing family…However, the beginning of my motherhood journey was rather horrific…
I suffered major postnatal depression, which was, frankly, the worst experience of my life and something I don’t wish anyone to ever have to go through. It was the worst nightmare I could not wake up from… It was something that completely took over my mind and I suddenly had no longer power over my thoughts (or even deeds)….
It began rather inconspicuously… My boys came to this world via an emergency c-section and I could not wait to meet them for the first time. I could not wait to experience this amazing rush of love everyone was talking about.
However, to my huge shock, the first meeting with my boys was nothing like I had imagined. I knew they were mine, I was glad they were ok…. But I felt nothing special. No rush of love, no fireworks… Quite naturally, I, therefore, felt like a horrible mother!
And this was just the beginning. Every day, I came across new situations, new moments, new experiences that only added to the feeling of failure…
I had no idea what to do, I did not feel like a mother, the boys did not want to latch, I did not love them the way I believed I “should”, sometimes I even regretted the decision to have them… It was all beyond overwhelming and it did not take long before I lost a will to live.
I was convinced that everyone else was having a great time with their baby but me. I felt like a complete failure…. On a few occasions, I even wished I was dead.
The only person I talked to was my husband who kept encouraging me to talk to my family and the GP, which I eventually did, but taking antidepressants only deepened the feeling of failure so I did not take them regularly.
Everyone else thought I was happy, but inside I was screaming. I wanted my life back, I did not feel like a mother, I saw no point in anything anymore…
After about 8 months of suffering in silence, I hit rock bottom. I started to cry uncontrollably in front of my friend as I got to the point when I could not hide it anymore. And that was the day that changed everything…
I cannot even start to describe what a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders at that moment. Suddenly, things did not seem so bad… My friend was brilliant and very supportive and I could not understand why I hadn’t spoken out much earlier.
Gradually, I started to open up to more people, which was the best medicine indeed! I also started to take the antidepressants gradually.
My love for my boys also developed and settled over time… As we got to know each other, as we bonded and created memories, as they started to sleep through the night and be more independent… My love for them has got stronger each day and today, I would die for them.
It took a lot of time, pain, tears, and sleepless nights, but I am lucky enough to say, that not only did I survive postnatal depression, but I am the happiest I have ever been before.
And now, I am on the mission to help other mums so they never have to feel so lonely as I did once….
You know, I believe that the main reason new mums struggle (even if it does not go as far as depression) is poor knowledge about life after baby arrives and postnatal mental health.
As even submitted by NHS midwives – most antenatal classes don’t offer this information and rather focus on birth and practical information around looking after a newborn. (how very sad, isn’t it?)
The environment and media have created an illusion that a new mum experiences nothing but pure happiness from the first moment. However, the reality is often different, so if the feelings of happiness don’t arrive, a new mum feels like a failure and often falls into depression.
I run the blog mumsjourney.com where I speak openly about reality motherhood and last year, I published the book ‘Motherhood – The Unspoken’ that offers real insights into the life of a new mum and saves new mums from suffering postnatal depression.
I shared my story and talked about my work on BBC 3CR, TALKradio, C.Hub Magazine, London Mums Magazine, or maternalmhmatters.com, and I hope to keep reaching more and more people every single day….
I believe that if we stop pretending and start being open about our real feelings as mothers…. We can break the stigma of postnatal mental health, make it general knowledge what (early) motherhood is about, and, most importantly – reduce the risks of postnatal depression.
FB: @mumsjourneyip @gmail.com