I’ve had this post on “draft” for a week or two to mull over if it was worth raising this issue again. After seeing a friends post on Facebook yesterday about her journey through PND, I felt encouraged to post this.
Because its relevant.
Because it’s a reality for a lot of women.
Because it almost NEVER gets talked about because of shame and misunderstanding.
If you’ve ever suffered the unfortunate torture of post natal depression I’m hoping that this post will encourage and bring a little light to you.
After loosing my first baby, Asher, nine days after birth I found myself in the dark pit of grief and depression. Not familiar with the symptoms I assumed it was mostly grief related. Then a miscarriage a couple of months later at seven weeks and a blanket of numb descended on me. I was unaware of the effects of life events and fluctuating hormones on my mental health. Public opinion didn’t help much either.
- It’s all in your head.
- Just get over it.
- Spend more time in the Word.
- Thats for unbelievers.
- Get out more.
Then pregnant with Cal and what I thought was “taken care of” in my heart started to surface again. Pregnancy depression set in early and I was medicated for my own safety (this is normal). I’d like to add at this point that God had very clearly shown me that this pregnancy would be fine and this baby would be healthy and survive birth, but the daily struggle is real and my hormones weren’t helping with the balance.
Fast forward to the birth of my second son, Cal, everything went well, no complications, no drama, just a happy, healthy baby and a normal c-section delivery with no issues. Even though my PND (post natal depression) wasn’t severe it was enough to affect my bonding with my son. I didn’t have many emotions from the meds, and thus felt no connection to my son until he was around five months old. It was a dry, stale period of going through the motions, until he reached the developmental ability to respond to me I had no real connection with him.
I was allowed off my meds when my son was eight months old and the transition was bumpy, but worth it.
Naturally, after experiencing everything that I had up until then I was dead set that I wouldn’t have any more kids. Terrified of having a depressing pregnancy and complicated birth again kept me quite off the idea.
Much prayer and discussion months later and hubby and I decided to talk about having another baby.
I consulted my gynae about pregnancy and PND and he explained it like this: Whatever your frame of mind is before pregnancy, pregnancy hormones will elevate that frame of mind, they will intensify the emotions. He was convinced that I was currently in a healthy frame of mind and could have another baby quite successfully without that being an issue. So I decided to trust that my mental healing was sure and took the leap to have another baby.
Pregnancy this third time around was so phenomenally different I didnt know what to do with myself. No negative emotions, no dark tunnel, no permanent pessimism. It was unusual. Other than a few physical complications, pregnancy went well, baby was big and healthy and on track for our scheduled c-section. Going into labour early (read my post “things never happen the same way twice”) and the few complications of NICU etc, but no depression. Nothing.
Is this for real?
I have been given the opportunity to have a depression-free pregnancy and post natal season, and I am thrilled! I cannot express how different it feels. I have been able to bond with my son, despite him being in NICU for two days and unable to breastfeed initially, we have managed to bond and feed and love in a way I never thought possible. Third time really is the charm for me, this is also my last baby, so I am super grateful to God that the PND shadow hasn’t followed me into this one. I am able to cuddle my sons and love them fully, able to think clearly and make informed decisions on life.
I hope that every woman who has suffered with PND would find peace, that this condition wouldn’t leave a lasting mark on your heart. If you think you have PND please contact your care provider, GP, or gynae and be open and honest with them so you can get the help you need.
Image: Asherlove Photography by Kim van Vuuren