I'm doing that ugly cry, I know it. I can just tell. I gasp for air as I sob uncontrollably. My chest is heaving and my cheeks are soaked. My mouth is open like one of those horror masks you see at halloween. I wonder if I sob loud enough if Ian will hear me and come to see whats wrong.
The problem is, even I don't know whats wrong! I've just had the most beautiful little baby. My birth was TEXTBOOK, it was amazing and the past few days have been absolutely incredible. So why do I feel like this?! Sure my boobs are sore, my nipples are blistered and painful but surely that isnt enough reason to be this upset? I haven't slept much in the last few days but I'm not THAT bothered by it am I?
THIS is the stuff they should teach you in antenatal classes. That every pregnant woman and her partner should know, because even though I'm howling like a banshee right now I know theres only one thing to blame - hormones. Sure we are told about 'day three' or that 'when your milk comes in you might feel a bit teary' but this feels a lot more than teary. This feels like my world is ending. I've been thinking all day about how I can escape. How I can muster up the courage to get my keys, walk out the front door and never come back. I just want to drive and drive and hide.
Of course I would never do it. I'm far too controlling to actually commit. Even if I did run away, I can never run away or hide from the fact I'm now a mum. As appealing as the fantasy of running away is - what would I actually do?! Slip back into my life before hand? I certainly wouldn't be slipping into my pre baby clothes OR mindset. Every fibre of my being has been changed by these two tiny people. Theres no running or hiding from it, I love them fiercely and could never walk away. Plus, it would be way too much effort leaving the house.
The point I'm trying to make by sharing this is, even after having the perfect pregnancy and birth I was still feeling like shit. I felt like absolute shit. Sorry to be crass but thats the only word I can use to describe it. Tired, restless, unhappy, filled with dread. Dreading the next feed, the night ahead....how many times I'll be up, how painful it will be. Dreading the next few weeks, months, years. Questioning myself and wondering if I've just made a huge mistake.
Following Oli's birth I had a reason to feel terrible. So many things went wrong and out of the norm that I felt entitled to the tears and glum feeling. My issue here was - everything is perfect, I had no reason to feel like this or to complain. Other women deserve these tears more than me! That made me feel even worse, I wanted to cry but I had to hold it in because I was convinced I wasn't entitled to these feelings.
You know what? Thats rubbish, absolute rubbish. I had just given birth, I didn't need to be brave. I had just given birth, I was entitled to tears, uncontrollable sobbing and ugly howling. I had just given birth, my hormones are going haywire. I had just given birth, I was healing and recovering from the marathon that is labour and childbirth. I had just given birth, it wasn't my responsibility to get up, go out, entertain my two year old or do the shopping. No one was putting these pressures on me except myself.
Whether your birth was traumatic and filled with unexpected interventions or the perfect homebirth that you had planned, one thing remains the same. The transition from pregnancy to motherhood triggers huge hormonal shifts. An absolute hormonal roller coaster that has the ability to make us feel a hell of a lot worse than just 'teary'
I forced myself up out of the bathroom and back to my bedroom where I cried and cried and Ian gave me lots of support presumably thinking 'Oh god...she's crying AGAIN?!' I spoke to my midwife the next day after she quizzed me on my mood. I was ordered to slow down, accept that I HAD just given birth and to stay in bed for at least a few days resting.
Soon enough I was feeling back to my usual self. I dread to think of the alternative, being swallowed up into the dark hole, to a place where so many women are taken. Did you know the leading cause of death in new mothers is suicide? Horrifying isn't it?
Having a baby isn't all sunshine and lollipops. Sure they are cute but even that doesn't help when you are feeling like shit. If anything it makes you feel kind of worse, guilty in fact.
You know what does help? Owning it, speaking up and saying I FEEL LIKE SHIT. Talking through it, letting people know, telling your friends, reaching out. We need more women to know it's completely normal to feel this way. If it was more accepted in our community, if there were national campaigns, education and adequate postnatal support for every new mum then maybe we would see rates of postnatal depression dropping. One precious mum lost is too many in my opinion.
If I knew the mum next door, my friends and colleagues or the supermodel smiling on my instagram feed had all felt like they wanted to run away at some point, I know it would make me feel better.
Next time I will know. I'll know I'm not going crazy, it is in fact COMPLETELY NORMAL. You don't need a complicated birth to feel this way. All you need is birth, strip back the how and where and why. All you're left with woman and a new baby, a whole lot of hormones and responsibility. When I get back to work I'll be telling mums about day 3 and the baby blues. I'll also be telling them that it's not just day 3, it can be days 7,8,9,10 too - and the rest! I'll tell them that some days you just want to run away and hide from the overwhelming responsibility and your new life. It doesn't mean you love your baby any less.
Having a baby is hard, it's okay to admit you feel like shit.
Let's not keep it a secret. Speak up, reach out. Your baby will thank you for it.