By Guest Blogger Yvette Mystakas (@she.is.sacred)
When I found out I was pregnant with my son, Dimitri, everyone told me motherhood is the best thing you could ever experience. This baby, this miracle of life that enters our world, is supposed to bring parents eternal love and happiness. People, whether it is friends, family or strangers, like to only talk about the positives of parenthood.
When it comes to newborns, all I was really told is that babies only eat, sleep and cry. What I was in for in the early days was NOT a little baby who 'just' fed and slept. I was not just in for a baby that cries for when they were in need of a feed or nappy change. Baby Dimitri was a colic and reflux baby. It was very overwhelming, and I was mostly doing it all on my own for the first six months. My parents do not live in Sydney and my mother in law is much older. I rarely went out as some mornings when I would try to figure out what to do for the day it was dinnertime before I got it together. My husband worked two jobs, so the only quality family time would be every second weekend.
Dimitri had a perfect routine during the day, until arsenic hour arrived. Arsenic hour – a moment in time which felt like eternity for me. The colic, the cries, the reflux - nothing would calm this little tiny baby. The apartment would frequently get neglected, dishes filled in the sink, the dog was constantly barking. The thought of the millions of clothes that needed ironing and and folding made my anxieties rise, and rise, and rise.
After I put Dimitri to sleep, I would find myself sobbing, feeling lost, lonely, confused and often questioning my parenting; "What have gotten myself into?", "What have I done" - and also the recurring statement that was embedded so deeply within my mind - "I am a failed Mother".
I initially assumed it was baby blues and exhaustion, because how on earth could it be post natal depression (PND)? It would be so absurd to even let a state of mind like PND take hold whilst bringing up such a beautiful little boy - this little human I created for nine months, this sweet innocent being whose face lit up when I picked him up out the bassinet.
For almost a year of ignoring the signs, it turned out it was in fact PND. This disease, this numbing sadness, snuck unexpectedly into my home and swept into my mind. PND got the best of my vulnerability in the early days, those precious days where I was trying to figure it all out. I would fall into a defeated state, ending up in tears because I truly believed I was incompetent to perform my motherly duties to my son. I would just stare at my baby, my husband and my surroundings as if it was all a void. My world went from colour, to washed out into black, white and grey static.
Now, do not get me wrong. I love Dimitri. I love him more than life itself. I would do anything for him and give him the best of everything. It is just the early days was not what I expected it to be.
Perhaps it is being a first time mother - experiencing the newness, the unknown, and the unexpected can become paralysing when PND comes into the mix. But what I have ultimately learned so far is that motherhood is the most amazing experience, however with PND it is the most devastating struggle ever.