The day before my waters broke, I was googling various jungle themed cake images for my baby’s christening; my baby who was yet to be born. I like to be prepared, it’s who I am as a person. However, those who have kids know that no matter how prepared you are, you are in fact never prepared enough. Throughout my pregnancy I took many precautions to ensure that postnatal depression would not come knocking at my door, however, all preparations were in vain. Case and point.
Oscar’s Christening day was on Saturday 16 December 2017, and his cake was indeed jungle themed. As I stated, I like to be prepared, but by this time things had begun to slip. I tried on the dress I intended to wear a mere 3 days beforehand. I booked in to have my hair done the morning before, knowing full well that I may not get an appointment: I didn’t really care. 12 days previously, 4 December, I had been to the doctor.
For many weeks previous I suspected that maybe I wasn’t feeling exactly as I should. In fact, I knew when Oscar was three weeks old. When he was 23 days old, at 6.15pm, I penned an email to my therapist. Part of it read:
‘I gave birth just over three weeks ago and it was quite traumatic. I’m having a little bit of a hard time dealing with it and I think I may be borderline with Postnatal Depression also. I’ve been to visit my doctor, and keen to avoid medication again, we’ve decided this is the best route to go.’
I knew at that stage that I did indeed have Postnatal depression. I knew I wasn’t borderline.
However, despite my best intentions attempting to avoid medication again, a very tough end to November which resulted in a hospital stay with Oscar in an isolation room for many nights, I could hear medication whispering to me. The hospital stay was very telling for me, and I simply wasn’t strong enough to get through this on my own. One week after out stint in hospital, almost two before the christening, I was sitting in front of my doctor asking for medication: the medication I so badly needed to help me cope.
As the day came around, I had been on my medication for less than two weeks. For me, the initial weeks leave me void of feeling and emotion. I spent the day stressed and worried that Oscar would scream the entire time (again, another post). The day came and went and was essentially a success. It was two days after, 18 December 2017, that was to be a turning point for me.
Glen Hansard is a huge part of who myself and Simon are as a couple. I don’t think either of us could remember how many time we have seen him live if we tried, and 18 December was to be another live show for us, and our first night away from Oscar. A Glen Hansard gig usually goes in hours after it’s supposed to have ended, and generally features a few surprise guests, and spectacular moments. On this night, he reminisced of a previous gig, and how the young man who came on stage to sing with him, suffered stage fright and never got to finish the song. We had been at that gig and our heart ached for him. Unfortunately he died weeks after the gig, however his brother was going to finish singing the song in his honour. Needless to say Vicar Street was filled with emotion, as many, like us, remembered the previous gig.
I, on the other hand was not.
The family of the men in question were sitting mere feet from us. You could hear a pin drop in the room if it wasn’t for all the tear filled snuffles. At this point I would typically have been overcome with emotion, and I wasn’t.
I turned to my husband and told him I wasn’t taking the medication any more.
I would taper off it, but then I was finished.
How could I live my life that way? I knew how I should feel and I knew how I would have usually felt. Instead, I felt cold, hard and emotionless. That wasn’t me.
How would I feel when Oscar rolled over for the first time? When he crawled? Got his first tooth? Said his first word? Walked? Would I smile, nod my head and put on the outward face of utter love and delight, all the while unemotionally thinking
‘great, another milestone to check off the list.’
I couldn’t do it. I wanted, no I needed, to bask in the pure happiness that all those moments would bring. Those moments were far too important to be missed. Postnatal depression already had me feeling like I wasn’t good enough, and there was no way in hell medication was taking away the ability to enjoy my child even further.
I would fight this battle on my own. I would put on my armour and delve head first into battle.
And I did.
Until I didn’t.