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‘I’d gone from being super organised to barely functioning’

Mother suffering from postnatal depressionTo help spread awareness of perinatal depression and anxiety we have been publishing stories bravely writen by women and men who have experienced PNDA. This is Kylii’s story … 

“My pregnancy with my second child was very different to my first. I had a very easy pregnancy first-time around. During my second pregnancy, I had morning sickness for the whole 8.5 months. I felt so ill I used to lie on the ground in front of my son’s bedroom door so he couldn’t get out and I would just fall asleep in the hallway until he woke me up.

I then got bronchitis when I was about six months pregnant, which took me six weeks to recover from, then at about 33 weeks pregnant I started itching everywhere and was diagnosed with cholestasis – ICP. I was already feeling very unwell and with this added to the mix I was now struggling to get through the day.

I had to have regular blood tests and go to the hospital twice weekly with my 2.5yr old son in tow to be monitored as my baby didn’t move much. The cholestasis meant that my daughter needed to be born early so I also had to relinquish my dream of a VBAC and have a planned c-section at 37.5 weeks.

The midwife I had was amazingly supportive with the changes to my birth plan but as my family lived overseas and with only a small support network, I could feel my anxiety building, especially coming up to the birth.

FORUM: Ask questions or chat with others in our Perinatal Depression forum section

I had a history of depression and anxiety. While in the hospital, I had a couple of panic attacks after being given pain medication and I felt very alone. My husband needed to be at home to look after our son. As I already felt miserable I didn’t want visitors which was classically how I displayed depression in the past, by avoiding people.

My new baby, a little girl, was beautiful and easy-going, she slept well, but was very clingy. Like many toddlers, my son had not yet adjusted to having a new baby in the house, so I didn’t feel I could leave her alone in the room with him. He demanded constant attention which I wasn’t able to give him. I was so tired. I felt disjointed from them both, I felt angry that they needed me so much. Most days I was completely overwhelmed, just to get out of the house or plan dinner seemed impossible.

Loneliness was the biggest factor for me. With no family around I felt as if I couldn’t reach out for help to friends who had their own babies. I also felt very jealous of friends who had their mums and sisters there to help them when I felt so alone.

I also felt constantly guilty, I knew what an “easy” baby my daughter was and couldn’t understand why everything felt so hard compared to the first-time around. I loved being a mum for the first and didn’t grasp why things were different. I had mentioned it to my midwife a few times but she said it was just baby blues and I would be fine.

My breaking point came when my baby was about three months old. My sister came to visit from the UK and I realised after a few days that every time she asked what was planned for the day or what she could do to help I simply couldn’t think. I’d gone from being super organised to barely functioning.

Fortunately, she realised I was not doing so well, she started sorting out dinner and making plans for the day and I just went along with her. After about a week of going through the motions, I completely lost it with the children. I was so tired and exhausted, they were both screaming and crying, then I just started screaming and crying myself. I ran out of the room and locked myself in my bedroom for two hours.

My sister was there to look after the kids but It was a lightbulb moment for me, I realised I had just broken apart.

I knew I needed help and that this was more than just baby blues. I called my psychologist and began seeing her. She helped me get back on track, it took a few months of putting plans in place to manage everyone’s needs, including my own, I began to feel much better. Talking it through helped me to realise I wasn’t failing as a mother.”

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