At first, I was just tired. I have a one-year-old, of course I’m tired, I thought. Tired from the second my eyes open, tired before I have my morning coffee, tired after it. Tired before the daily naps I was starting to ‘sneak’ in during my son’s lunchtime sleep, and tired even after them.
I was even more tired post nap, but it was physically impossible to hold my eyelids open once he was down and I could barely crawl into my room up onto my own bed.
So sometimes I napped on his floor, holding my hand out to reach him through the thin wooden slats, silently apologising for what I had done to ruin everything for him.
GUILT & ASSUMPTIONS
I was tired of feeling guilty for sleeping while my partner was out working long hours in the lead up to Christmas, providing for our family while missing the small milestones I got to experience daily with our son.
Most of the antenatal and hypnobirthing friends you’ve been seeing almost daily for a year are back at work now, so you have less things to do to keep you occupied, your slowing social life and tiredness is just a result of the year catching up with you.
A SHOCK SURPRISE
I’m not sure what was most shocking or most tiring to hear - finding out that we were pregnant again when Harry was only 10 months old or finding out that I had antenatal depression.
You long for these babies, to fill voids in your heart, to smother with kisses, to take away past sins, to protect and devote yourself to.
You get one - he’s perfect - and then soon follows a brother for him to love and protect, to make laugh and smother with kisses. So why aren’t you happy? What the hell is wrong with you? So ungrateful. So selfish. So. Rude.
People don’t know what to say to you when they ask you how you are and you say, “I’m OK, I have antenatal depression, but I am getting through it one day at a time.” They freeze. ‘Why did she have to say that?’ they ask themselves. She always overshares.
She always talks too much. Even when she is down, she is too much. So selfish. So. Rude. Can’t she just say ‘Good, and you?’
So, they say things like, ‘Oh well, you’ll love them when they arrive, it’ll be fine...’ Then they ask the gender - another boy, I say - without the enthusiasm I should apparently display, so they feel awkward again.
Their struggle with entrenched patriarchal bias behavioural expectations expects me to be different, but they get no appeasement from me.
‘Well…’ they start, ‘maybe he’ll be gay?’ I try not to roll my eyes at their lack of understanding of any kind, including how gender and sexuality are not the same, let alone the hypocrisy of this entire situation, so I just float away in my mind.
It’s lonely in here, and tiring. But I’ve got so much to look forward to - family to see, friends to brunch with, summer to enjoy, a perfect little boy who loves his Mumma no matter what.
...You’re so ungrateful. So selfish. So. Rude... What is this expression of anything but gratitude for her ring, her house, her husband, her 1.5 children, the framework we all strive towards - why isn’t that enough for her?
REAL TALK TIME
What’s enough, and what you have to look forward to, is a whole lot of bloody bullshit. Having antenatal depression, or any type of mental health struggle, has very little to do with all of those bright, beautiful things that bring you joy.
It’s chemical, it’s hormonal, it’s internal, it’s in your heart and your brain matter, in your bones and your cartilage. And at six months pregnant, it is all in here for me right now.
BLOWING THE EMBERS
But the fire has started again. The embers almost went out, but with the strength and support of those closest, and a devoted and empathetic team from Maternal Mental Health, the flames are flickering again.
I AM, I CAN
I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a business owner, a proud co-founder of a social enterprise smashing period taboos and helping change this country. I’m a great mate to others and honestly, I’m generally a great mate to myself. Most importantly, I’m a bloody good laugh.
I will not let this ‘diagnosis’ be an expression of female powerlessness. After all, it was the sisterhood that saved me. I am proud of who I am, every day, even with all this inside.
My beautiful, tired female friends who gave me all their spare energy and spare time, the wonderful women back in the work sphere, every single powerful woman I have met through The Period Place, especially my business partner.
This is a love letter dedicated to every woman who has met my eyes, answered a message, reached out themselves, whether I have told you the whole story or not. I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be who I am, without you.
Aroha nui, my wahine.
>>> IMPORTANT NOTE: Antenatal depression
If you are feeling more tired than usual, or worried that you might have feelings that are heavier than normal - go and see your GP and have a casual chat. I did, and it saved my life.
Your GP can activate a huge range of free services designed to help you as a woman, to get through tough times (pregnant, postpartum or anywhere in life). It just takes three words for you to say and everything will change - I need help.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
> GET IN CONTACT
Co-founder, The Period Place