From the Past….
November 27, 2012 § 1 Comment
This week is Postnatal Depression Awareness Week. I have been surprised to realise that much of the grief I’ve experienced about Robin being ill has actually been unresolved grief from when Zara was a baby.
In November 2008 we were living in QLD, near the beach, enjoying a beachy kind of homeschooling, cruisy lifestyle. We got rid of all our baby stuff, feeling that three kids was enough for us. December rolled around and like a bolt of lightning from above, both Sol and I knew it was our immediate destiny to have another baby. A few days later: pregnant.
Nine months later, I was giving birth in the middle of the night, in a pool on the floor of my Mother’s lounge room in Sydney. The previous two years had seen us uproot and move to QLD, lose our house and income, live in a tent and travel around fruit picking, lose our tent to flooding, live in emergency housing and survive on an extremely small amount of money. On top of that our move back to Sydney whilst pregnant with Zara had not gone as planned. Needless to say living with my Mum and having a baby there was not part of the plan.
Most people anticipate the first second their baby is born, and the amazing connection and love that occurs, like a light being flicked on. I certainly experienced that, especially with my first and third babies. Zara’s birth was so peaceful, but the second I saw her, finally born and placidly gazing, I felt nothing.
I can only remember random moments from Zara’s first year. Talking to the midwife, being at the park after school one day, meeting with one friend… and really, that is about all I can remember of Zara.
I just tuned out from life for a while, but in a serious way. I went through the motions when I needed to, but my real self was standing in the background of my mind, in a fog. After dropping the kids at school I would sit with Zara on the lounge… and just sit. There could have been lunch prepared for me, sitting on the table, but for some reason there was no way I could make it to the table to eat.
I know I breastfed her, and that I took very good care of her. I always consoled myself with the fact that at least we still bonded, as mother and child should. But then, after spending time with Robin in hospital and knowing him inside out, being able to anticipate every cough or cry he made, feeling such a oneness with him, it was almost a physical blow to realise that the bond I thought I had with Zara was a fallacy. I just wasn’t there for her when she was a baby. And this year, while Robin was ill and she was still only two, I wasn’t there for her physically. These realisations bring me to my knees.
I did get help for PND, and came out of it soon after Zara turned one. Maybe I had an enhanced bond with Robin because we were together 24/7 and I was able to fully focus on him. I’m still working through these thoughts. All the while trying to let go of the ‘shoulds’, and of the ridiculously high standards I know I set for myself.