I've struggled with mental illness and anxiety since I was 14 years old, so when I became pregnant with my first child I knew it was likely I would suffer from postpartum issues. My psychiatrist and I spoke at length while I was pregnant about the signs of postpartum depression after I had the baby so I would know what to look for. Nothing could have prepared me for how alone I would feel after having my baby.
D was born in May of 2008, I had a fast easy labour with a first degree internal tear. I had wonderful midwives and an amazing doula. I struggled with Breastfeeding from the beginning and because my midwives could see I was struggling with post partum issues they said to me about a week after I had my daughter that my Mental health was more important and I had to make the decision that was right for me. I chose to stop breastfeeding about a week and a half after my daughter was born and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I remember calling my husband when he was at work many mornings saying I can't do this I feel like I'm going to drop her, I was so exhausted and anxious. I was lucky to have amazing family and friends that helped me so much.
I spent the majority of many days in those first few months of my daughters life at a close friends house, who had 2 young kids just so I wouldn't be alone. I remember this friend saying to my husband that it would take time but I would return to my old self and one day when I started feeling better she said to my husband that she felt I had turned a corner. My friends with babies and older children would come to visit and force me out of the house to go for walks. I would walk everywhere or take the bus as I didn't drive.
I am so grateful to my amazing friends and family for helping me through that first 3-6 months. I joined a playgroup when my daughter was about 5 months old and It felt so amazing to be welcomed into a group of mothers who had babies around the same age as my daughter, some of which I'm lucky enough to still consider friends today and who my little girl is friends with their kids.
I look back on that time in my life with smiles and tears. It wasn't easy but I made it through and it made me a stronger person. After the birth of my second child in July of 2011 I had some anxiety but no postpartum issues. I knew what to look for and again was supported by amazing family and friends, I'm thankful I didn't suffer a second time. My daughter was a good easy baby and I benefited from the classes and groups we went to when she was a baby. I remember taking to a friend of mine when she was about 6 months old and talking about how hard it is and how isolated I felt after I had my daughter.
To this day I will never forget one of the things she said, she said if someone were to tell you how hard it's going to be after you have a baby would you believe them? I think I probably wouldn't but am so proud that we can now talk openly and honestly about postpartum depression and baby blues as its so important. For me it defined my first few months of being a mom, it helped me to see that I needed to be around other people. I can't say it enough how thankful I am for my amazing friends and family. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today.