Today marks a year since I began this blog – meant originally as a way for me to use my gifts and passion for biblical interpretation and application. It has now morphed into something more – a platform on which I can also express my creativity and my heart. Being genuine is important to me, as is being transparent – and after the year that has been so far, I feel I’m finally ready to do so.
I had always resolved to write about the experience of transitioning into motherhood. Although, it’s not really a transition as much as it is a plunge into a deep, dark ocean – from which there is no return. There are others swimming up on the surface, some even enjoying the float – but they’ve been in the water for years, and many have forgotten the exhaustion and turmoil of the beginning. “It gets better!” they shout. But I can’t seem to believe it yet.
The days in hospital were a shock. The first two weeks home were hands down the hardest weeks of my life. I have never spent so many tear-filled hours on my knees in prayer: for strength and grace in droves. Even now, remembering the desperation of my aching, tired body and soul makes my hands tremble. For the first few months, Nathan cried a lot. As in, any time he was not feeding or sleeping, he was crying, day and night. I dreaded each and every day, and begged Alex to stay home longer – which he did. I had incredible support around me: Alex being the best by far. We had family and friends who would give us meals, gifts, time, kind words, and sympathy – as well as assurance that, again, this is not forever and it will get better.
PND is something that runs in my family, and having had bouts of depression as a teenager, my obstetrician, midwife and GP were all on high alert. But for the most part, I was OK – I accepted the fact that this was just going to be a hard time, simple as that. I looked forward to when, hopefully soon, I would feel like myself again, and I could relax and be happy.
It didn’t happen.
When Nathan hit around 6 months, I cracked – he was overwhelmingly needy, and I didn’t have the time or energy to be constantly holding him and playing with him. There was washing, cleaning, cooking, hanging, scrubbing, as well as my own needs, that required fulfilling on a daily basis. And there was no rest – certainly not. I struggled to even feel happy or hopeful, and started to feel the familiar weight of those mental handcuffs again.
With sincere thought about what Nathan and I both needed as individuals, as well as direction from my doctor, I conceived a plan that would give him the constant attention he craved, but also gave me the space I needed to spend time becoming whole again. I wanted to stop feeling like motherhood was a prison sentence. I wanted to stop resenting Nathan for the inconvenience that he was. I want, so desperately, to cherish, love and enjoy him, without the hindrance of depression.
Now, Nathan is 8 months old – and doing very well! And I’m doing better. I have a couple of friends who come over during the week to play with him and spend time with him for a few hours while I take care of the house, or have some free time to rest or work. I’m taking medication on the insistence from my doctor (who really had to push me, as I was apprehensive of anything interfering with breastfeeding), and having sessions with a specialist who has given me wonderful techniques to practically apply to day-to-day struggles. I’ve noticed Nathan cries a lot less, and I’ve started enjoying our time together even more than before. It’s an ongoing process. In the words of Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars Episode II, “I wish I could just wish my feelings away; but I can’t”. I can’t make myself be the perfect mother; I can only be a good enough mother by giving Nathan what he needs, being there for him, and also making sure I get what I need – so that I can be the good enough mother.
For many, having babies is a mostly wonderful experience. For others, it’s harder to feel that same bond or fulfillment. I can’t explain it, except that it’s like fighting myself to become the woman and mother God made me to be. With His help, and the support of those I love, I know and believe I can – and I look forward to being the good enough mum for Nathan, because she will be good enough for me.