Being pregnant with PJ and chasing a toddler at the same time meant that my second pregnancy was a whirlwind. I barely noticed the nine months passing. I barely noticed the anxiety of being pregnant again. I barely noticed the anxiety of birth. I barely noticed the anxiety of that first night. I barely noticed the wolf.
After coming home with PJ from the hospital, everything that was whole began to shatter again. Everything felt like it was coming undone at the seams. My heart was completely torn in two. Being mum to two, when I could barely be a mother to one. Hug one, read a book to another, feed the baby, change the toddler, burp the baby, find the toddler, finger painting, bath time, walks, naps; I never seemed to get the balance right. “You are neglecting AJ, he needs his mum.” “Don’t neglect the baby, he needs his mum.” Somewhere, in the long shadows of the nights I was living, the wolf came again. It was slow, deliberate. It chose its words carefully. The taunts were calculated and precise. Slowly I could feel myself sinking down to my knees in submission. Sinking down to the blackness I wrapped myself in the first time. My head sunk low and my eyes saw only shadows in the darkness.
The chain of nights formed the weeks of my existence. With each one passing a new day offered a break, a fragment, a shattering of light. One morning of no particular importance I was home feeding PJ. He was growing and no longer a newborn. He lay snuggled in my arms, our backs to the glass door that led to the outside. The sun was resting on our shoulders. The gold glow filled the room, warmed the air. In the silence of that morning all I could hear was my heart beat as PJ fed. Then, from the corner of my eye I saw the wolf. Menacing, lurking, and slowly edging closer to the glass back door. It wanted more. It wanted more than just my nights. In that moment I became someone I wasn’t.
“Not this time! Not this baby! Get out!” In the silence I screamed and yelled at that wolf. “Get out! Go away! Leave this house! Leave me alone!” In my convulsion I cracked the glass ball of my anxiety, my frustration and my disappointment. I let it go, let it out. The wolf backed away from the door. It paced back and turned around.
With PJ the pieces of me came back together. Slowly with each passing moment I picked myself up, one piece at a time. With each passing day my confidence grew. The confidence I lacked being a first time mum, was now being replaced with an overwhelming feeling of self knowing. A self knowing that lay quiet and low, waiting to have a voice. A self-knowing that was waiting to come out. This baby brought a sense of lightness and completeness to my life. He warmed the soul of our house. He warmed the relationships we forgot we had. Something new was starting.
The weeks became months and the mountains became smaller. The steps were becoming lighter. Life was coming back. I thought I won the battle with that wolf. I thought I had won. I thought it had left our home, our family and my mind. Little did I know. The wolf was far cleverer than that. That the story of the wolf was far from over.
Postnatal Depression awareness week is 18 – 24 November. Help spread the message that Postnatal Depression is not all black and white.