Today is World Maternal Health Day so I thought I’d share a little of my own journey. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for many years, I was also diagnosed with dyspraxia and Adhd quite late in life so for years just believed I was pretty much hopeless at everything. (I mean I still am but there’s actually a reason for it).
As a mum I frequently feel completely useless as a mother. This started in my “failure” to get pregnant. It took two years to get pregnant with Ezra. Two heartbreaking years where we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility and were about to go onto the IVF waiting list. One day I decided to give a miracle herbal supplement I’d read about a go and fell pregnant that month. With Lilianna, we tried for 8 months until I, once again, took the supplement and fell pregnant that month. I genuinely believe that I am not able to get pregnant without extra assistance.
I loved being pregnant, although struggled physically. Both times I ended up on crutches and both times I had to have c-sections under general anesthetic because of the way baby was lying and because due to a couple of health problems I can’t have epidurals.
Ezra was not an easy baby. He screamed 95% of the time he was awake, day or night. Frequently we would both be in tears. Going out was nt easy as he would just cry, I had to wear him as he wouldn’t go in the pram and going anywhere in the car was a nightmare. It turned out that he was allergic to cows milk and had reflux so I went onto a dairy free diet and he went onto ranitidine and that helped a bit. But I felt like such a failure, mothers are meant to be able to comfort their babies, right? And no matter what I did, I just couldn’t. My mental health plummeted again and I ended up back on medication.
Ezra is 3 now and still not the easiest of children. I think he may be on the autistic spectrum. He is very sensitive to any sort of sensory input and probably a bigger reason for his struggles as a baby.
Lilianna has been a much easier baby, although she’s now crawling, pulling herself up on the furniture and getting into everything. But the transition to two was much harder than I expected. Ezra struggled with her arrival. And again, I found myself questioning my abilities as a mum. I loved them both so much so why wasn’t this easier? Why couldn’t I make my wee boy see that I still loved him to the ends of the earth?
He has gotten used to her now and while there’s still moments of sibling rivalry from both of them, I am generally getting the hang of having two.
I must say that I am in no way blaming the children for my struggles. It is most definitely not their fault. What caused and still causes my depression and anxiety to flare up is how I feel I am responding to the situation.
I frequently think things like I am such a bad mother, so-and-so is so much better at this than I am and what if I mess up my kids and they end up hating me? These are completely irrational thoughts, I know they are, but they frequently haunt me and torment me.
It’s not just my abilities as a mother I question. It is everything. There’s not much I’m good at, I pretty much fail at everything. Including having friends, in many ways lockdown has not been that much different to normal life because beyond a quick hello when dropping Ezra at nursery, I rarely see or speak to anyone besides David and the kids. I have no confidence in initiating meet ups. None. I have terrible social anxiety, I struggle to know what to say and have always felt like the outsider in groups. As a result I’m terribly lonely which makes my anxiety and depression worse, but my anxiety and depression make it hard for me to connect with people so it’s a vicious circle.
I think it’s important to be honest about these things and to seek help. I can’t afford fancy therapies or expensive counsellers but I am do what I can to get better.