I felt that overwhelming rush of love.
Not straight away, but I remember exactly when I felt it.
Our new little pink pickle and I had both been cleaned up, wrapped up and left alone in our dimly lit delivery slash recovery suite to sleep off what had been a very long day and a very quick birth. I remember waking up and my right hand was really stiff. Looking over at it I realised that for a solid five and a half hours my hand hadn't stopped clutching the side of Elsie's cot beside my hospital bed from the moment Daddy had been sent home for a shower and some rest. That's when I felt it. Like a wave or a magic spell, it hit me hard, boom, and I felt it.
With my aching hand still not wanting to leave her cot and the tears flowing, I just knew in that moment that life had changed forever. I had changed forever. That I had been given a job, a gift, and I would do my hardest to fulfil that role with absolutely everything I had until forever.
That love for her grew and continues to grow each and every day. Just when you think you can't love any more than you do, and that your heart surely can't get any bigger, it does.
Everything was perfect. Or so I thought.
As time went on we tried to adjust to our new life and even though our hearts were full, there was a dark cloud looming over us, mostly me, that would have a huge impact on our experience as new parents. This dark cloud is what I refer to as The Fog. This heavy, miserable puff of negativity that oozes it's way in and out of your mind, pulling you downwards and clouding every possible positive angle it can worm it's ugly form into. Postnatal Depression is one heck of an ugly sod.
It took me a long time to realise that it was PND and that I wasn't entirely losing my marbles of my own accord. Over the past six months, since a bit of light broke through the fog, I've wondered why on earth it took me so long to acknowledge that something wasn't quite right.
You see I've always had a clean record. All through school, not a scratch on my name, (aside from being a notorious chatterbox which landed me the odd detention here and there!) Then all through adulthood I'd continued to be the good girl. Always wanting praise and always wanting to please. I realised that there was this fear that comes with knowing something isn't quite right in your mind. The fear of being 'branded'. The fear of having a 'mark' against your name. The fear that you will be noted down as 'not coping' and having this fear meant that I didn't want 'Post-Natal Depression' on my record.
I feared that saying it aloud would mean that all of a sudden I wasn't this perfect person anymore. But most importantly, more than anything else, I feared that by admitting there was something wrong with me it could result in Elsie being taken away from me.
That we would be 'put on a list'. That people would think that I couldn't look after my own baby. That we'd have to tick a 'special' box from now on and that there would forever be a mark by my name that said something was wrong with me. That I wasn't fit to be a mother.
When I told my midwife therapist about these fears, they all came flooding out. All of my fears and the horrid reasons as to why I had waited so long before seeking help. She looked me in the eyes and said "none of that is true, none of that would happen and none of this is your fault". She reassured me that everything I was feeling was normal and in no way anything to be ashamed of. That it was all fixable and she was right. Talking to someone about my fears helped to lift my fog and once the fog had cleared a little I could see things properly again.
PND is common. It's not a bad thing. It's not permanent. You're not a bad mum. Your child won't be taken away. You are not broken. You are a person who just needs a little help finding the light switch again. PND is fixable.
Sadly fear will always be a permanent fixture in everyone's life. Even more so when you become a parent and as we get even closer to welcoming our second baby into the world I fear that fog could rear it's ugly head again. But at least now I know the signs to watch out for and I won't be afraid to ask for help again. Asking for help was never a sign of weakness, it was a sign of strength. Strength to make a change and to help me find the happy me again.