I wanted to share with you my personal journey, not to be egotistical but in the hope that if any parent is feeling the way I did, it might help them seek support from an amazing charity which is Gidget Foundation Australia.
It’s difficult to know where to start with my story, here goes …
A little about me, from an early age I suffered from anxiety, depression, and bulimia. Depression runs in my family and I saw a lot of sad incidents from this most of my childhood. My mother is an amazing lady but on the flip side my father wasn’t there emotionally and as a figure for me to look up to, I never realised until I went to Gidget Foundation Australia what an impact this would have on me.
I was aware from my early 30’s that conceiving would be difficult for me due to low AMH (Anti Mullerian Hormone) levels. I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn’t be a mother and to be honest I was not overly upset by this at the time, I was single and never thought I would meet someone (a) I would consider having a child with (b) would they be a good father? (c) I would be a terrible mother.
Fast forward 6 years and I met my now husband Shamus, who is a remarkable man, full of support, enthusiasm, and father material. When we decided to try for a baby (honestly I actually thought it wouldn’t happen) and to no surprise it didn’t happen naturally, 3 rounds of IVF and a frozen embryo later, we fell pregnant to my amazement and shock….this is where all my fears and doubts rose to the surface:
– Do I even want this baby?
– What will people think as I had IVF and now I am doubting everything
– I am going to be a terrible mother, just like my father
– I am going to get fat, I can’t cope with that, I am selfish, uncaring, and only thinking about myself and not the baby
– I am an OCD / control freak, what will I do if my baby ruins my routines in life
– My baby won’t love me
– I won’t love my baby
– My baby deserves someone better
– I am going to get fat
– I am going to be a terrible parent
– I am in a black hole and don’t know what to do
Finally I went to my amazing doctor at 3 months pregnant, I just couldn’t cope with the constant anxiety, lack of sleep and wanted to do the best for my baby (I worried he could sense my stress, which then made me even more anxious!) I was in a vicious circle of depression and exceptionally low self-esteem.
My doctor introduced me to Gidget Foundation Australia, and it changed everything for me. I was incredibly nervous at my first session, like most people I find it difficult talking about myself, Felicity my psychologist put me at ease instantly. We talked about everything and anything. I gained an understanding about myself, my expectations, my childhood fears, my body dysmorphia disorder, and OCD. I have always put so much pressure on myself and my glass has always been half empty. It wasn’t a quick fix, but after my 6 sessions pre pregnancy I definitely had a different outlook on the future.
– More positive
– More open with my husband
– Less daunted about being a mother, even a little excited!
– I would say slightly more relaxed with realistic expectations
Fast forward 4 more months and my incredible Oscar arrived, he was and obviously is beautiful. The first few weeks went by in a daze, breast feeding was initially a nightmare with mastitis, Oscar just wouldn’t sleep etc etc…..everyone has been there. With that then came the depression creeping in again, the over thinking at 3am: what am I doing? I am a terrible mother? Do I love him? He doesn’t love me. It started to spiral out of control again and this is where Gidget and Felicity stepped in again.
With Gidget’s support I realised this was actually quite common, I am not the first and won’t be the last parent to feel this way. This is a long journey; I am not my father and I can do this.
Two years later and yes it’s still a challenge, I still have anxiety, I still have body issues but you know what I’ve come to realise I’m not perfect – who is, and guess what I have my Oscar….he kisses me, cuddles me, tells me he loves me, throws the most almighty tantrums, drives me nuts, causes me sleepless night and do you know what, I wouldn’t change one thing!
Thank you Gidget Foundation Australia, just knowing you were there for me, it changed everything x
Perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) affects 1 in 5 new mothers and 1 in 10 new fathers and yet, for the majority, it comes as a surprise to the parents and families affected. If you suspect that you or someone close to you is experiencing symptoms, seek help early: www.gidgetfoundation.org.au