In May 2010 I found out that I was expecting my first baby. From the moment that I saw those two lines on the pregnancy test I was ecstatic and bonded with the baby growing inside me immediately. From being excited by the first fluttering kicks that I felt at around 15 weeks pregnant to lying awake at night watching my bump judder with the baby’s hiccups nights before she was born I was totally in awe and totally in love. Newly married and very pregnant, I had all I have ever wanted.
After a healthy pregnancy and a fantastic home birth I do not remember my first moments of being a mother. My only memory of my daughter after her birth was looking at her briefly before I handed her to my husband. She had the most amazing deep blue eyes. The weeks following my daughter’s birth began a dark time for me. I struggled to bond, I felt that didn’t know how to look after my baby, that I couldn’t comfort her or understand what she needed. Every time she stirred I was petrified, I willed her to stay sleeping because I didn’t know what to do if she woke. I felt a failure for not managing to breastfeed. My negative feelings built up, unchecked by midwives, health visitors and GPs. It didn’t take me long to distance myself from my husband and my daughter. For the first twelve weeks of her life I did everything that I could to avoid being a mummy. It took me those three months to realise that maybe something was wrong; maybe it wasn’t normal to feel as detached and scared as I did, something finally clicked and I found the strength to ask my doctor for help
It took me a further three weeks before I was given any support; even then it was only in the form of medication. I have had to battle for help every single step of the way. Sometimes depression makes that impossible. Even now I still find myself unable to get out of bed in the morning when life just feels like too much.
I have missed my baby’s first smile, first laugh, first words and so, so much more. She has missed having a proper mummy, all because of depression.
Now, ten months after her birth, I still feel like a failure sometimes and guilt is an emotion that I battle with almost every waking second, but I am slowly getting better. I still have a long journey ahead of me but I am fighting and I am determined to win.
A few weeks ago I read an article about the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation. I read it because like me, she suffered from postnatal depression. But Joe lost her battle when her daughter was just ten weeks old. Alongside the article there was a photograph of a notebook that belonged to Joe. In this notebook she had written a list of pros and cons. It sent a chill up my spine, I have written an almost identical list.
It could have been me.
Had she received proper care just days before her death it could have been prevented. Depression can be a fatal illness but it is also one that can be cured or at the very least, managed. The fact that people are losing their battles and their lives to this illness makes me angry. The lack of provision of care, of support and of understanding makes me angry. No one should be left to suffer.
I have turned my anger into determination. I am passionate about helping the foundation in their work.
I have set up a raffle as I feel so strongly about all that the Joanne Bingley Memorial Foundation is campaigning for. For a lot of mothers (and families) the services and the help that are so desperately needed are simply not offered, or worse, do not exist at all. I am only one person and I can only do so much, but what with my raffle I hope to make a difference, however small.
Nearly 50 prizes have been donated from lots of brilliant companies, with a combined total of over £1000.
To enter the raffle costs just £1 per ticket and you will have the chance to win anything from a Pink Lining bag to Rob Ryan tiles to clothes, toys and jewellery. There is something for everyone and every penny goes directly to the charity.
Postnatal depression is a horrible, debilitating, heart-breaking illness. I have lost countless precious moments to it, some people lose their lives.
There is also an e-petition here, it needs 100,000 signatures to be discussed in parliament, it takes less than a minute to sign. Please sign.
Thank you to everyone that has been involved so far and to anyone that wants to offer their help you can get in touch with me here.
-Clara Wilson, Boo and Me