It’s so hard, because you have to function. There is a tiny defenceless human who needs you to look after them 24/7. But you can’t function because of your depression, so you don’t for a while and just sit or lie there, listening to your baby cry out for you, his hungry cry, his lonely cry, any of his beautiful cries. You feel so guilty, so ashamed but you physically can’t move and you consider ignoring him but you can’t because he needs you to get your shit together, he needs you to look after him in this big scary world, so you finally get up and help him, crying the whole time because you feel so terrible for making him wait, worrying that your mood is affecting him negatively, messing him up before he’s even begun to live.
You tell him how much you love him and how sorry you are, even though you still don’t know if you’ve bonded with him because you never felt that overwhelming feeling everyone told you about, the one your partner felt the first time he laid eyes on your son. The one they tell you it’s normal not to feel right away but it still plays on your mind every single day, do you actually love your child or are you just going through the motions? And you feel so ripped off that you didn’t get that feeling and you wonder if it was a mistake, having a baby at all, you’re obviously not maternal, you can’t do it, you never should have done it and what if you never get better and you screw up this tiny little baby for life and he ends up a giant mess just like his mother.
But you’re disgusted at yourself for even thinking like that, he’s amazing, perfect, everything you ever wanted, you just thought you would handle it better, you knew it would be challenging but you thought because you’re a nurturing soul that you would cope, but you just can’t seem to get a hold of yourself this time around and you’re crying while you comfort him and you’re feeling selfish because you’re not the only person who’s had a baby and found it difficult and confusing but everyone you see with a baby is doing so well and you just can’t understand why you can’t do it yourself.
Then he smiles at you, his adorable gummy smile, the one that lights up his eyes making his whole face shine and he gurgles the cutest little sound at you, so sweetly that you melt and manage to pull yourself out of your funk for a while and you function again like you should. But after a while you start to freak out that you’ve scarred him for life, taken too long to respond to his needs. You go downhill again and repeat the process.
And you know you should be telling someone, your partner, your mother, a friend, but you’re in denial. You know that tomorrow will be different, that you’ll get up early and do shit tomorrow. You’ll have a healthy breakfast, you’ll go for a walk, you’ll get the million things done that you’ve been neglecting for too long and you’ll be a better mother too. The mother that your baby deserves, who responds to the cues and doesn’t leave him to cry for too long and interacts with him, helping him to grow because you know how amazing it is to watch him develop.
But then tomorrow comes and you’re tired and sore and just need a break, or a nap, or to watch an entire episode of a show on TV without having to stop it to tend to your childs needs and without feeling selfish for wanting that. Or to not have a pile of dishes to do in order to be able to eat something substantial instead of just wolfing down a yoghurt between babies cries. To not be alone with the baby and feeling helpless until your partner comes home and gives you a hand.
But he needs some time out too because he’s been working all day as well, just a different kind of work and you remember what that feels like and how tiring it is and how terrified you are of going back to work in a few weeks time and how it’s going to be so hard to be away from your little guy and let someone else, a stranger care for him and maybe miss out on his milestones, even though you knew this is how it had to be before you even conceived him. You knew it would suck but you thought you could handle it, just like everything else you thought you could handle.
And now the thought of working all day, then to have to go home each night and still have responsibilities, little chance for a break and you wonder how you will cope even though it’s what’s best for your family, but you’re scared even though everyone tells you that you’re looking so good and doing so well and you don’t understand because you stopped looking after yourself weeks ago, you just didn’t have the energy to look after both yourself and the boy and soon you’re going to have even more responsibility and you’re lying in bed, paralyzed by these thoughts circling round and round your head, then you hear your baby cry for you, but you’re frozen in place…