Stef: “When I first saw my son, it was like looking at a stranger.”

age: 27 years old
child: son – 2 years old

A lot of people think that pregnancy is the most beautiful time in a woman’s life. What was it like for you?

One minute I would be excited, next one I would hate my body. I felt nauseous throughout the whole pregnancy. I was depressed most of the last term and sleeping was horrible.

My whole life I fought obesity. And when I finally got myself a sexy, fit body, I got pregnant. I gained 90 pounds throughout the pregnancy, so emotionally that threw back to the days when I was bullied because of my weight. 

I got so fat that a nerve in my right arm was pressed on so badly, my whole hand and arm would be numb throughout the night. I couldn’t even open a bottle of water or switch on the light. And of course I would go toilet every hour…

Personally, I didn’t find pregnancy as being magical, rather the opposite. It felt more like sacrifice and compromise.

Being unable to accomplish the same amount of chores and keep up with my life was a great frustration for me. I used to say I was disabled.

What did you feel first time you saw your baby?

I was happy we were both healthy and that the delivery went well. I was super excited he was out, because being pregnant had become unbearable. But my maternal instinct was definitely not present and I had no idea how to cope. It was like looking at a stranger…

How were the first weeks and months for you?

First four months were horrible. All I can remember is pain and regret. I kept on asking myself ‘why did I do it?’. I was convinced the mum life was not for me and now it was too late to change anything.

Within one week after birth, my postnatal depression started. I didn’t know back then what the problem was, all I knew was that I hated my life. I was literally a completely different person, full of hate and anger and frustration. The baby had so many needs and he was so clingy. I couldn’t even shower without him. I felt I had no time to myself and my relationship with my partner was going south. It was impossible for me to be a mum and a woman.

I would cry most of the time and have this recurrent thoughts of worthlessness. As if I could never be happy again. I socially isolated myself. The advice and happiness of other people would make me so angry. I missed the freedom to be alone. To control my time.

I couldn’t sleep or eat anymore. I was exhausted, but I was unable to rest my brain. I had become a monster. I wanted to die. I didn’t want to accept my reality.

Up to the age of six months old my son couldn’t also stand my partner, his father. He was so jealous. I couldn’t even sit on the same sofa with my partner without our son screaming. So having to keep this distance between us to avoid the boy having a melt down was slowly affecting our relationship and make me doubt myself as a woman. All this frustrated me horribly and made me think that I will never be happy again. 

Today your son is almost 2 years old. How do you feel as a mum today?

He is everything to me. My greatest achievement. I will forever find motherhood challenging, but for the right reasons. I need to do my best.

What caused such a change? 

I did therapy for a long time. I had to integrate many emotions and thoughts. I started loving my son unconditionally when he was about eight months old.  

As he was growing up and showing me love, this made a huge difference. I learnt to work my schedule around him and accept the new dynamics of mum life.  

My life will never be the same, because now I have a purpose.

What helped you to get over the hardest time?

My partner. Having his support in all this madness was amazing. I know for a fact I couldn’t have done it without him.

Actually he was the only one who knew about my struggle. Being able to express my darkest thoughts to him was such a relief. I didn’t have to pretend I had a good day. I didn’t have to pretend I was enjoying being sleep deprived. I could share anything with him. His unconditional love and support helped me recover.

What do you think is the most beautiful about motherhood?

The strength that baby gives you to take on everything in life. You have to be his superhero.

Lot of future mums have lot of questions. What do you think they should especially prepare for?

If you have a partner, have a strong relationship with him and believe in your ability to make the best decisions for your family. Expect dynamics to change radically and be flexible and patient.

What is the overall message you would like to say to mums who are experiencing depressive feelings you did once? 

Speak out! Find somebody you trust and express yourself. That will keep you and the baby safe first of all.

Don’t feel guilty and don’t give up hope. There are others out there having it as tough as you.

Be ready to take on the toughest fight of your life.

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