Recently I received an email from a woman I did not know who had read my blog, she was a fellow twin mum to newborn identical twin girls, and she was beginning to find things a struggle. Her depiction of how she was feeling, and how she felt physically torn between two little newborns echoed exactly how I had felt when I had been in her position when Bonnie and Isla were newborns.
Through her words I cried, because it was all so familiar.
The words on my blog have touched on my experience with Postnatal Depression, but I have never truly expressed my feelings. And now that time has passed, I no longer can use -or feel that I require- the medication (oh no, do I need to change the name of my blog?), I feel as though I can talk about it.
October 2014 through to January 2015 were the most mentally difficult few months of my life. When I first began to feel down, I had trouble sleeping, I worried constantly about inconsequential things, I felt sad all of the time and I didn’t know why. And because of this came the constant guilt of feeling so low when I should have felt uplifted at the two precious little babes I got to nurture and watch grow.
I looked at other mothers who had babies of a similar age, their lives appeared so perfect. Where did they get the time to do so much and look so well? What was wrong with me?
My heart felt heavy, and I lost all of my self esteem, which I am still- slowly but surely- piecing back together with the help of my Paddy and my wonderful girls.
Postnatal depression is an ugly monster. When you should be experiencing some of the most precious moments of your life, it festers itself within your soul, it draws away your ability to relax, it steals from you the pure happiness you should be experiencing. It takes from you all control of your emotions, and it makes you feel completely alone in this experience.
You are not alone, this is not your fault, and this can not be helped…
When you have given birth to twins or more, the odds are immediately stacked against you when it comes to postnatal depression. Of course it does not mean that you will suffer from postnatal depression, but you are a more likely candidate:
- Mothers of multiples are twice as likely to get postnatal depression.
- A survey by Tamba (Twins and multiple births association) of over 1,000 mothers of twins and triplets in 2008 found that 17% of mothers who had a multiple birth experienced PND, compared with an average of 10% among all mothers.
- Pregnancy related problems like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, thyroid issues, and preterm labor often increase the chance that you will have postnatal depression- many of which women carrying a multiple pregnancy is at greater risk of.
When pregnant with the twins, I expected my life to drastically change, anyone who is pregnant with their first child is fully aware that life is going to change, we aren’t idiots!!!!
Initially, there were stresses and struggles:
Breastfeeding – this is something I always said that I wanted to successfully do for the girls. As I have previously said, through my breast feeding struggles, I persevered. I tried so hard but I was clueless. Throughout pregnancy, and at all of the antenatal clinics, the walls are plastered with posters of the benefits of breastfeeding. I always read those posters and felt warm inside that I was deciding to do this for my two babies, although in hindsight, what strikes me is the constant message being delivered to new mums, conveying that breastfeeding is ‘the best’ thing you can do for your baby, but where are these people, and the creators behind the posters, to show us HOW to do it. I spent hours in the hospital a few days after the girls were born, waiting for the breast feeding support worker (who was only there on a Monday- many babies are born on other days but Mondays), and in spite of my desperate requests for her to come by my bedside, she did not arrive. A few weeks later I called my midwife who came over, I told her that I was struggling with breastfeeding, and jokingly she said ‘if you stop breast feeding, I’ll stop coming over’. I came off the phone and cried my eyes out. Who is going to be there for us during these struggles? Certainly not those who are ‘supposed’ to be.
Sleep- of course, you won’t get much sleep with a newborn. But what about sleep with two newborns or more? PAH! Don’t count on it… There is a lot to be said for sleep in regards to your moods, and when you aren’t getting any of it, your moods are likely to become low. How do we overcome this? “sleep when the baby sleeps”– they say. Yes ‘baby’, SINGULAR! We’re dealing with plural here, people… take that line and shove it where the sun don’t shine…
General adjustments- Welcoming a baby/babies in to your home for the first time causes for adjustments to life as you knew it. ‘Adjustment’ is an understatement, but it’s truly hard to put in to words exactly what those adjustments are and what you will need to do. It’s really just a matter of going with the flow, and making the changes as you go. You could compile an endless list, so I may not bother trying to even touch on this.
One day, before I had sought any help from my Nurse Practitioner, who is quite possibly one of the loveliest ladies I have ever met, I had the girls out for a walk in their pram, for the entire walk I sobbed- I sobbed aloud- without even realising that I was doing so. When I got home, the girls were asleep and I took this opportunity to get a shower. I stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom and I looked at myself. My eyes were sore, and looked sore. My face was puffy with tears, and I honestly couldn’t recognise myself. This is not the mother I had pictured myself to be, which made me more upset.
It all sounds a bit ‘dramatic’, but typing these words and reliving these memories feels so strange, it feels like a different version of me. I feel like I have come so far from these dark days, so perhaps I should share, for anyone who it may help, how I managed to wrap my head around everything and make my small steps to feeling like myself again…
Take one day at a time. Every given day will never be the same. One day can be productive, the other could go from contented babies and mum, to shit (literally) everywhere and getting nowhere fast. Try to embrace these days as best you can. Admit to yourself that that day is a day for not getting out of pjs, and call in reinforcements (family, friends, neighbours) who are keen to help you out, that is if you have anyone at hand. Everyone has their own lives to get on with, and while you feel like your world has stopped and beginning to fall in around you, it’s not always easy to find a helping hand.
…Accept the help (if it’s there). Do not feel like a failure for accepting somebody’s help. They won’t offer unless they want to. Do not, for one minute, care what anyone else will say if you are happy to hand over your baby to get a ‘night off’, or just to get half an hour for a bath, and don’t worry about shaving your legs if you don’t have the energy.
Try to relax. If your baby is crying, remember that it’s the most natural sound. It’s their main form of communication and it is so very normal. If you have twins, and both babies are crying, remember that one baby is going to have to wait, and try to accept that, something which was very difficult for me to accept, so it is much easier said than done.
Seek professional help. This doesn’t mean that you need to load yourself with anti depressants and attend counselling sessions. The first step is making an appointment with your GP, they will signpost the way for your recovery. I decided to give anti depressants a try, and within three – four weeks I could feel a change. I felt myself more at ease, my anxiety over the little inconsequential things I once obsessed over began to ease, I found it easier coming to terms with the fact that my babies would cry, I could feel the self-inflicted pressure began to lift, and day by day, I started to feel better because I was in the right frame of mind to make appropriate adjustments to my daily routine to help aid my ‘recovery’.
You are not alone. Even though it does not feel this way, depression and anxiety are the most isolating little demons, but there are many other women who have experienced such dark days after having babies, when they feel as though they shouldn’t be. Telling yourself that it’s ok to feel this way, and that you aren’t the first- or last- person to feel this way honestly helps. And if you can, perhaps talk about how you’re feeling. You may just find other people in the same position, who have been waiting to hear from somebody just like you.
It gets better,
and so will you.
I promise. Xxx