Despite everything you’ll read in this blog post, I had a great pregnancy. The sickness wasn’t the best, I’ll admit, nor was the gag reflex that had me heaving every damn time I brushed my teeth. And I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty cheesed off that I couldn’t stomach onions or garlic without projectile vomiting which, I can confirm, is something I didn’t know was actually a thing until I was huddled over a bin with tuna-mayo projecting itself out of my mouth like a scene from Poltergeist.
Other than the usual pregnancy fears that something would happen and I’d lose my baby, I had a happy pregnancy, and I’m still convinced that the fact I laughed my way from conception right through to labour is the reason that I now have such an incredibly happy, content baby. No, it was after my baby was born that my life seemingly went to shit.
I should state now that I have a history with depression, and even though I’d battled my demons and gotten myself to a happy place, I was fearful that having had depression previously placed me with a higher risk of developing post-natal depression after my daughter was born. I was scared that it would hit me like stepping out in front of a double-decker bus the minute she arrived. It wasn’t until the final weeks of my pregnancy that I finally acknowledged these fears. I was scared that becoming a mother would be tainted by the darkness that had previously clung to me with depression. I was scared that I wouldn’t bond with my daughter. I was scared that she’d be born and I wouldn’t want her.
I’d spoken to my midwife, I knew what to look out for; sadness, hopelessness and emptiness. And when Lulla was born, I waited for those feelings to hit me but they never came. The moment I heard her husky cries echo around the hospital room, my body pulsated with love. The minute she was placed on my chest and I looked down at her pink skin, I couldn’t wait to hold her closer. And just an FYI, my baby was born covered in her own poo, so the fact I STILL wanted to hold her, even with brown poo wedged in her tiny fingernails, tells you something. I couldn’t help it; the second she was born, I felt complete.
I came home and I had a few wobbles because duh, being a mum is SUPER hard. Rewarding and life-changing, but H-A-R-D. I was sleep deprived, and I was trying to establish a new routine with a new baby, all whilst trying to nail breastfeeding and nappy changes. But my community midwife checked in on me every few days, and she was confident that I didn’t have post-natal depression. And she was right. I didn’t have that hollow emptiness. I wasn’t struggling at all when it came to caring for Lulla. For someone who is naturally quite emotional, my hormonal outbursts were pretty contained. But one thing she never asked me was if I was angry. And I was. I just didn’t yet know that rage was about to rear its ugly head and change everything.
I wasn’t angry at being a new mum. I loved my new role. And even when I was met with situations that tested me, such as my struggle to express my milk-filled bazookas, I still remained calm. But anger was simmering away under the surface, and it started to erupt from me in a burning rage. When I’d be woken in the night to hear Lulla crying as her dad failed to soothe her, I wanted to rip her out of his arms and do it myself. When the washing up was left in the sink, I’d feel like throwing the coffee-stained mugs at someone’s head. When someone asked me something, my reply would be snappy and vehement. The relaxed and calm state I found myself in naturally when Lulla was first born was slipping away. I’d managed to hide just how angry I was feeling until it started to become sporadic and unpredictable and was becoming a struggle to swallow. I couldn’t control it. And I was scared. Women who’ve just had a baby are meant to be thankful and happy, not feeling like they could murder someone by launching their iPhone at them from across the room.
I was scared by what it meant to feel so angry. But the feeling overriding anger was the fear in admitting to my anger. Fear that I would tell someone and they would label me unfit to be taking care of a newborn baby and that my daughter would be taken away from me. Women who are angry are not in control, and this is what prevented me from confiding in anyone. Instead, I did what everyone does when they want to diagnose themselves without visiting the Doctor: I googled.
Postpartum Rage. The words were right there in front of my eyes and as soon as I read them I felt a sense of relief. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t on the verge of becoming a serial killer. I wasn’t suffering from depression, which had been the thing I’d been fearing. I was instead suffering from anxiety, and as soon as I read a few articles about it, it all made sense.
I’ve since seen my Doctor and we’ve discussed everything. She didn’t reach for the big red button that I’d convinced myself was under her desk that would call social services to take my baby away from me. In fact, she said these words to me: ‘I have no concerns over whether you can look after your baby. I see you’ve got great support around you.’ I’d been carrying my rage around with me like a secret, and finally admitting to how I was feeling felt like releasing its grip on me.
If any new or old mummies happen to stumble upon this blog post, I’m putting it out there to let you all know that you’re not alone. This is the post I needed to see when I felt that burning rage inside of me; another mum admitting that she felt the same way as me. We tend to feel safer admitting to feeling sad than we do admitting when we feel angry, yet anger is a valid emotion and motherhood can be overwhelming. So, if you’re not feeling weepy as a new mum and are instead screaming f-bombs at anything and everything, then know you’re not alone. And that how you’re feeling is okay. You’re not going mad, and your baby won’t be taken away from you. Don’t throw your phone at anyone’s head. Instead, take a moment to inhale. Relax those shoulders. Pop the kettle on and make a cup of coffee and ring your Doctor.