I’m Jessica, 31 years old from London and I’m a mum to two beautiful daughters, Rhianna who’s 10 and Lily who’s 5. After Lily was born in 2011 I had postnatal depression.
My birth experience with Lily, my second child was incredible. A funny thing to say but it was straight forward, short and without pain relief; it was the most rewarding experience I have ever and probably will ever have. When she was born I felt so content. The hard part was over, and if my eldest was anything to go by I would get a good night’s sleep. I was to go home in the morning with my lovely little family complete and we could get on with enjoying our lives.
How wrong I was! Lily was born crying and it felt to me like she never stopped. I was the mother pacing the ward hall that night with a baby that wouldn’t stop screaming. I was riddled with guilt that I couldn’t keep her content and that I was disturbing the other mums in my room, whose babies were all soundly sleeping.
The only thing that got me through that night was that my husband, Jon would be there in a few hours to take us home and I would have some help. But when we went to have Lily checked and cleared to go home they picked up a slight heart murmur. They wanted us to stay another night to monitor her heart and I instantly cried as I knew Jon couldn’t stay with us as we had Rhianna to think of.
The next day the doctors came and said the heart murmur had settled down and she could be monitored from home. Instead of relief from hearing that her heart was fine, I was relieved that I could have a break from her as Jon could take over for the night.
As the days went on I found excuse after excuse not to hold her, not to interact with her. I became a robot, just going through the motions of care without the feeling behind it. Then a miracle happened; I got so severely ill that I was incapable of holding Lily and I was so grateful. The relief was incredible but at the same time I felt ashamed of my feelings.
“I became more and more aware of my emotional distance from Lily but I believed becoming ill had made me look like a failure and I was embarrassed.”
The moment I realised I needed help I will never forget. It was the end of January and Lily was about three months old. Whilst running an errand I considered taking my own life. I snapped out of it and I suddenly realised what I was doing. It sounds strange but in that moment I didn’t think I was contemplating suicide, I was just thinking how easy it would be to not exist anymore.
That evening as I was cleaning I told my husband in such a flippant way about what happened that day. It was the first time I’d told anyone about how I was feeling and it felt like having the pressure of a volcano inside me finally released by talking to Jon. I felt an mixture of immense relief and anxiety by opening up but Jon was very supportive taking time off work for two weeks and looking after the children and housework. There was no judgment from him on how I was feeling and he allowed me the space to through the different motions.
After what seemed like a lifetime of wanting to scream at people to listen to me, I was finally listened to. They understood me and I slowly made my way to recovery. It was a long, hard and sometimes very painful road but I got through it and I wished I’d spoken out sooner.
If you’re parent and you’re struggling at the moment, Best Beginnings resources may be helpful. They have launched an educational film series, which you can watch here.