26 Jul 2017
We'd like to sincerely thank one of our valued patients for sharing her first-hand, very raw and personal experience with post-natal depression (PND) after giving birth to her first child, a few years ago.
Thank you for your strength and desire to share your story with others- We are so pleased to say that you and your little family are now thriving.
If you're suffering from PND, know that you are not alone. There's always someone to help. Please contact the Team at Intuition Private or visit:
"A poignant memory that sticks in my mind is antenatal class. The topic of Post-natal Depression (PND) was broached. I had heard of it before but I did not really know much about it. I am quite ashamed to say that my ignorance had previously made me believe it was not even a real thing. A little book was handed to all the mums-to-be and the midwife briefly touched on it, mentioning the rooms on the maternity ward have windows fastened shut with screws. Windows that could be opened for fresh air could also sadly present a danger to mums and babies. Everybody in the group was quite shocked when the midwife told us that there had been incidents in the past.
I paused and looked at the book for just a moment and thought to myself “This is for the other people, not me”. I put it away in my organised little bag, to file it away when I got home. I never even read that little book.
The impending arrival of our baby had already brought so much joy to our families especially being the first grandchild on both sides of the family. My husband and I were of course very excited and everything was just perfect. Beautiful coordinating nursery furniture- CHECK, a car seat that achieved highest rating in ANCAP laboratory testing- CHECK–and I could list so many more! I had just completed post graduate studies at University–a massive career change that was perfectly timed–I was able to work for six months before having the baby.
Our labour experience was pretty positive, although I was a bit taken back when we arrived at the hospital and we were asked “Which paediatrician would you like for child?” I thought to myself “How did I overlook this? I have not researched it! Oh well, I guess just a routine thing anyhow. Nothing will be wrong with our baby”. We were blessed with a beautiful, petite little girl. At the birth we were told that she had a slight problem with her foot, but were reassured that it was not serious and no need to worry.
Aside from the little problem with her foot (which meant her leg was in plaster for the first six weeks) she had other medical concerns along the way, which contributed to her being a very unsettled baby. The first eight weeks were a blur. At one week old she was readmitted to hospital and placed in the Special Care Nursery. Following her discharge we had many appointments and tests. Looking back it was a very stressful time. I had my husband home for the first seven weeks. Together he and I struggled to cope managing this baby. As time got closer to him going back to work I really started to worry how I could do this by myself. How could I be at beck and call of this little person and run a house? In the 8th week my mother came to stay; after one week of intense sleep deprivation she felt five years older! It was in that week I realised that I could not go any further.
Mum and I went and saw my G.P. I had heard of a ‘Mothercraft’ program which was run at the hospital where we our daughter was born. I asked the G.P. about this and he replied “you have to be really desperate for that”. I was not sure how to respond as I was gobsmacked. I was asking for help while so exhausted I could not even manage to finish my sentences properly. Now I felt embarrassed for asking and I began to doubt myself and my situation. It was then my mother intervened and said “yes she is desperate!”
The G.P. agreed to write a referral. I spent a week at the private hospital where I was given help to regulate our daughter’s feeding and sleeping patterns. Things became more manageable but I dreaded the day that I would have to return home and leave the security of the hospital.
We had a fairly challenging nine months that followed. Our daughter had never slept for more than four hours in a row; consequently I had slept even less. It was really starting to take a toll on my husband and I. We had been to Tresillian (which had helped), although our daughter became quite sick upon coming home and it was very difficult to implement the new self-settling routine. I also visited our local hospital to get assistance with the sleeping issues.
It felt like every day was Groundhog Day. The only way that I could keep going was by trying to sleep when our daughter slept. I dreaded leaving the house as it meant I would not get to have a nap that day, and without the nap I struggled even more. I was becoming angry at the common sense advice people with kids would give me. Did they really think I was so stupid to battle these sleeping issues for so long without having tried such simple solutions? Our house resembled a war zone. Some days I did manage to get out of my pyjamas but the next challenge was to find something clean to wear.
By the time our daughter was eleven months old I was a walking zombie again. She was back in the pattern of waking every 2–3 hours. At this time our Paediatrician had ordered some fairly invasive testing, as there were still some medical concerns. It was possible the sleep issues could be medically related. That day I walked out of the paediatrician’s room–baby under one arm and swag of test requests in the other. I held it together until I was in the car. Tears streamed down my face from the feeling of being so overwhelmed combined with absolute sleep deprivation.
It was a few weeks following this, well-meaning advice at a family function tipped me over the edge. I knew that I was in a very dark place, but I was so deep in this dark place I was not able to pull myself out of it. Fortunately my husband and mother recognised these signs, and sought immediate help from our family GP. The GP tried to have myself and our baby admitted to the same private hospital I had previously attended. Unfortunately, the hospital did not have adequate resources for my situation. The only option the GP then gave was for me to be admitted to hospital without our daughter who was still fully breastfed.
My husband was furious that we had hit a dead end. He researched the internet and made phone calls to various hospitals, but there were so many roadblocks. He eventually learnt of the only hospital in NSW with a Mother/Baby Peri-natal unit. We returned to the same G.P. for a referral. The G.P. leaned in and said “This is a psychiatric hospital”. This was said in a tone that suggested “Do you really want to do this?. Despite the sleep deprived and depressed state that I was in, I knew it was the right place to be and I quickly expressed this to the G.P, who then wrote the referral. I felt like it was a re- run of what had happened when our daughter was only 8 weeks old. Being brave enough to step forward and ask for help, only to be made feel ashamed because of the mental health stigma that still exists within society.
A few days later I received a phone call to say that there was a bed available for me; I cried with relief. I was so grateful at the thought of receiving help as I knew I had nothing left in me.
Once settled in at the hospital I did not have to be asked twice if I wanted to have the “two baby free nights”. It was difficult to sleep after being programmed for almost a year of being woken up every 2 or 3 hours! But I did get some sleep and I felt so much better after the first two nights.
I sit now tapping away on my laptop as our daughter blissfully has her afternoon nap. I have been here just over two weeks and I am feeling almost ready in myself to go back out to the real world. Our daughter now does not wake through the night and putting her to bed in the day is no longer a chore. Because of how sleep deprived I was there was no way I would have been able to get on top of her sleeping issues alone, as I was so run down myself. The program has been so wonderful, really catering to the needs of mums in my situation. Group therapy sessions are run through the day, with medical staff available for any support you may need with your baby, or for yourself. I will leave here with various support systems in place to assist my recovery. I also have met many beautiful mums here in my situation. They are successful, inspiring and many highly educated.
It does break my heart though knowing that this service is only for people who have adequate health insurance. I am certain there are many women out there who are in a very similar situation and are not fortunate enough to have someone close to them to recognise the signs.
It was a dear friend of mine who has come to visit me whilst being here, who suggested to me that I should try to have my story heard. I have decided to stay anonymous as I don’t feel comfortable to link my name to such a personal experience. Although I have very openly spoken about my experience to those around me in my personal life, who I feel are willing to listen. I can only hope that by telling my story I may encourage those who are close to women in my situation to be vigilant in seeking help for them. We have learnt that sometimes you really need to be proactive and persist until you get the support that you need.
I mentioned at the beginning of this article how I was ashamed that I really did not understand anything about PND, I blame society for this as PND is not often enough spoken of or recognised as a real illness. "
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