“The fourth trimester meant recovering and understanding more than the physical labour of birth and focusing on the emotional labour which is the ebb and flow of a new maternal life.” My words, from an article I wrote for the Irish Times in July. “Parenthood will change you. It’s almost an affliction that rewires the internal mechanisms of your body and brain. Like a sometimes-instant switch, automatically flicked, when your baby takes their first breath.
“Except, it’s not always the case when a baby is born that a mother is born. Producing a newfound life does not necessarily mean we automatically download the parenting gene and move with a maternal grace like mother nature intended. This change is an odd meandering of trials, most of which blindside us, which is why the fourth trimester is so important.”
I may be over two years from from the fourth trimester but I often feel like I’m still recovering from pregnancy, birth and the trauma of PND. There is no preparing for the big moments, the big changes or even the small changes of parenthood.
You simply have to roll with the motions and rock with the fluctuations. No matter how hard we find it, we’re not too open to admit it, it sends shockwaves down the parenting line as every new Mum waits to feel like a warrior and handle the daily grind without complaining, without hardship, without tears. But the tears are there for most of us. The mental and physical load gives way every now and again. More often than we like.
You cry. You cry so much you wonder why you feel hurt, angry, upset, sad and frustrated when you should be enjoying your beautiful baby. “What’s wrong with me?” you wonder. Absolutely, fricking nothing, my dear. Because you cry, because you question, because you carry on regardless says one clear thing.
You’re doing a damn good job because you care. Because you want to love this time of life but find it impossible some days. Because you’re human. And because it’s actually hard.
I’ve had too many bad days as Momma Bear since the summer holidays ended. Days when my heart felt like it would jump out of my chest with the palpitations. Not being able to answer emails, texts, respond to comments, write, think, or focus, parent, share, cook, clean, kiss sore knees.
Lately, I have found myself wandering on a slightly broken path as anxiety knocked on my door and asked if I could come out to play. So we play. Hide and seek. I hide. It seeks and somehow manages to find me.
There is a fear when you suffer PND and Postpartum Anxiety that it will come back. Tease you. Pull you. Drag you down to where you escaped from before. A strong fear, because lord knows it was a challenge to escape.
On my instagram stories today, I admitted that I have been having a bad month. I haven’t told anyone. Not even my other half. I’m grand. All good. Fine. But truth is, panic, frustration, anger – my three priors of PND – have found their way back inside my head and body. And I don’t like it.
I know where its all coming from. The anxiety of being a work from home parent, facing bills with a limited workload bringing the money in. The stress of finding consistent work. The constant rollercoaster of freelancing.
And I’ve struggled to settle in to the normality of everyday schedules with school, homework, balancing life. The summer has me slightly ruined after the hot freedom of lazy days.
But this will pass. I will not find my life battling an anxiety I fought so hard to kill. Or at least I will try. selfcare, love, talking. I know the drill. Unfortunately.
Love and hugs to anyone currently wandering through the same shit storm.
If you are struggling with your mental health, if everything feels a little fuzzy, know you are not alone. There are ways out, people to talk to, and options open to you. Click here to find a counselor custom matched to fit you and your individual needs.