I am not a first time mum. I knew this was coming. But I was not prepared for how hard I was going to fall.
She wouldn't sleep. Which meant I didn't sleep. She just cried. She cried so much, I cried. I was broken. The newborn adrenaline had worn off. She had only been Earth-side one week. My eyes were burning. And I'm not even sure if that was from lack of sleep or from crying... maybe it was just both. I had lost my soul. I probably couldn't have even told you what day it was.
It was so hard to enjoy my new baby. She was so tiny and so beautiful. But all I could think about was her next sleep stretch and if it was worth me trying to sleep too.
I don't even know why I took the picture. It was the most raw I will ever be in a photograph. I questioned whether this was post-natal depression. Was this the path I was heading down? I was scared. Not that I would ever be ashamed to say "I had post-natal depression". I was just scared that I could end up in such a dark place. I think I just accepted that it was just #mumlife. I accepted that it was "normal". Was it normal? Is it what every mother goes through? Should I have asked for help?
Although... I never felt like I had failed. I was not a failure. My daughter had a home, she was feed, we could afford baby necessities and most of all... she was loved. I was just tired. So, so tired. My eyes were incredibly puffy and my skin was starting to have breakouts. My body was running on empty. I wasn't looking after myself. People always say, "sleep when the baby sleeps". Ha! Yeah, right! I need to shower, do the dishes, put a load of washing on or actually spend quality time with my 6 year old son. Our world did not stop just because our daughter had now joined our family.
If you had of asked me how I was, you would have got the generalised response "yeah tired, but good". I was lying though. I wasn't good. I was fuelled by coffee and medication (for my c-section). To the outside world I was smiling. Inside I was broken. My husband is the only one who saw how broken I was. In the darkness of 3am when he heard me sobbing because I'd been patting and rocking for the last hour and she still wouldn't sleep, he would take her. He never even said a word. He just knew. He knew his wife was broken. It didn't need to be said. It was like I had a black cloud hovering over my head that he could see too.
I yearned for adult visitors. We didn't get very many. I guess it's a second-baby thing. Maybe our friends were just busy? But I needed the distraction. There was no way I was going to ask. I would have sounded desperate, right? I have always wanted my home to be open to our family and friends. I want our tribe to be able to turn up unannounced. But the doorbell didn't ring. I didn't have a message on my phone asking if we were home so they could come over. I was lonely. The silence was deafening. Let's be honest, there was no way I was sleeping during the day. So if I wasn't sleeping, I may as well have had company. The few visitors that we got, I didn't want them to go. It meant that reality was sitting right there as soon as I shut the door when they left.
Now this all seems stuck in the past now but not out of my mind. I will never forget. I will never forget the emotional rollercoaster I was on. Sometimes I feel like I missed the newborn stage. It happened so fast. I look at my daughter now and wonder where time went. When she smiles at me just because she's seen my face or when she giggles when I tickle her, I melt. It's easy to reflect when it's been 5 months since I was there. Even though a "full-night sleep" is a long gone thing, I am functioning. I feel human again most days. I never want to go to that place ever again. It's not me. I missed me. I consider myself a strong person. But this broke me.
The sleep deprivation was not going to last forever. They are not a newborn forever. You have to live day by day. Tomorrow hasn't arrived yet and yesterday has already gone.
PREGNANCY BIRTH AND BABY
Or speak to your GP or Maternal Child Health Nurse.