A PND survivor and mum of adult children: “What would I do differently if I had a chance?”
Here I welcome Rachel Hunter N.N.E.B, Private Nanny, Nursery Owner, Child Minder, TA, STA, and MUM. Rachel is a Holistic Therapist & work with Women and children at R&R Therapy, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7LX.
Rachel is a postnatal depression survivor and a mum to two adult children. In the below post, she shares her experience with postnatal depression and talks openly about the trials and tribulations of becoming a mother and what she would have done differently if she had a chance.
Over to Rachel…
I was so excited when I found I was pregnant, my husband and I had only been married 6 weeks and never imagined it would happen so fast, my pregnancy went well and when baby arrived, I was so, so happy. I had a son, I had my baby!
Over time, things started to change, my happiness dipped, although I loved my new addition to our little family with all my heart (and for that I was relieved, as I know some new Mothers struggle), life became very hard, it felt as though joy had left my world forever! I didn’t feel good enough in all walks of life, I felt I was failing as a wife & mother, in fact, in all aspects of my life! I had to detach myself from anything and everything that was negative, I couldn’t cope.
It got to the point where I was quite literally going through the motions of daily life under the blackest cloud you could ever imagine! My family lived a few hundred miles away, so we didn’t see them regularly, when we did, they’d noticed I wasn’t myself but didn’t want to interfere.
Until, one-morning several months later, my washing machine door wouldn’t open, and it might as well have been the whole house, my world truly collapsed. I called my Mum, I was so, so frightened by how I was feeling. In a very firm voice she said, I was to get baby and go back to bed and stay there, within two hours she was by my side, helping me to cope.
That was my very worst time, on two occasions I told her I wished I was dead – what a thing to hear your child say – but again she was firm and said, I’d miss baby’s first day at school and if he chose to marry, I’d miss that too. Those conversations will never leave me. With medication and huge support from my husband, parents & family, I began to heal. It took a long time and I wonder if I’d spoken sooner would I have suffered less and healed quicker…I think quite possibly!
But I got there, I even had a second child, a daughter a little gem of a baby. How lucky was I? One of each and not a hint of depression, I’d completed my family.
Would I turn back the clock? I absolutely would! And, be Mum to two small children again? Hell, yeah!
I’ve loved every step of being a Mum, as we hurtle through every day, we just live through it, putting one step in front of the other, doing the same thing day in, day out and occasionally we take a step back and reflect, but there’s generally not much time to really embrace it, before a nappy needs changing, the kids need collecting from school and there’s tea to cook, not to mention the washing, ironing & shopping etc, etc.
Would I change things? Yes, of course…hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it would be the ‘giving of time’ more than anything.
I do wish I’d stopped doing whatever I was doing when my little girl wanted me to look at something. It was clearly very important to her but ‘In a minute’ worthy to me.
I wish I’d listened more closely when they were chatting away ten to the dozen. Instead, feeling guilty, once they’d gone to bed and wondering what they’d said! (but I bet 99.9% of parents are guilty of this too) and has it led to any harm, no! So, I really have to let that go.
I wish I’d played more games, read more books, taken them to the park, quality time although we did do plenty.
Have we raised them the best way we could? Yes, absolutely. I’ve felt I was fair but firm. I’ve entertained them to the best of my ability. Home life was very much home life, I didn’t live in a show house, if the floor was covered in toys, so be it. Much to my husband’s dismay, he liked the show house idea 😊. They would help tidy up sometimes but not always…
I’ve taught them right from wrong, they grew up knowing that they would be held accountable if they made bad choices, like conning someone out of their best Pokémon card, (they were all the rage when my son was little), I’d sent him to apologise & return the gold glossy one for the 6 shabby ones (nice try though).
On a serious note they knew that if they got into trouble with the police and put in a cell, they’d be left to stew. It would have almost finished me off, but they didn’t know that at the time and fortunately we never had to retrieve either of them from a cell!! Phew!
They knew how to behave, were polite and knew I had expectations so once when I received a call from school telling me my daughter was in isolation for fighting, although I knew in my heart that she wasn’t a fighter, I still went absolutely ape when she got home. I had listened to a teacher before listening to her. A massively huge error on my part, she had been the victim – then she’d had to endure my wrath – when she’d needed reassurance and a cuddle, I’ll always regret that! But I didn’t regret giving the teacher a rather large piece of my mind.
But I’m human! And my kids know that, that’s a good lesson in life.
We continue to live and learn as parents, we’re not perfect, just as they aren’t, my kids have lied, been sneaky, done things they shouldn’t but they’ve learnt by their mistakes. I learnt to choose my battles and wouldn’t say no endlessly to finally give in, what’s the point in that? However, I do remember grounding my son for 3 weeks, but after a week a reversed it! I’d made my point, he’d learnt his lesson but was driving me crazy, (he still craves fresh air and the outdoors as an adult). He reminds me of it sometimes and we’ll have a laugh.
It’s so much easier when they are little, you can get down on a child’s level and see life from their perspective, simply looking out of the car window at their height is quite a revelation. Doing the same when I needed to explain something to them helped ease situations sometimes.
As they got older it was much harder, we’d disagree and argue but that’s part and parcel of them becoming more independent and growing away from you as a parent. It’s a painful time for everyone. My daughter and I would argue, sometimes to the point of yelling and shouting. My son has been face-to-face with my husband in an almost physical altercation had it not been for me screaming at them both, I don’t know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t. It’s far from ideal, but family life is not always rosy, its real. I’ve cried, they’ve cried, we’ve all cried but we are a FAMILY and we’ve come through it, together.
There isn’t very much more I would do differently, maybe offer more financially, but I wanted to be around more, so we haven’t had that luxury. I made the choice not to be a career woman, I can live with that and know it felt right at the time. My career is happening now, it’s not been too late. There have been things they would have liked to have and do, but when they’re parents themselves maybe they’ll understand that we have always done everything we could.
The window of being a young family and having those cuddles, snuggles, fun, play and adventures is so, so tiny. If I can share anything with anyone it’s make the most of every minute! But if the minutes right now are not joyous, please don’t despair, the black cloud does disappear and the sun will shine once again, difficult times will pass, just hang on in there, IT WILL BE WORTH IT!!! Remember there will be so many more wonderful times and experiences to share.
My two have their own lives, jobs, partners. Both are liked and respected, kind and considerate, hardworking and very much loved! Before I began writing this, I asked my now, adult children 28 & 23, was there anything they felt I should have done differently?
They both thought about it for a while and answered no, they couldn’t think of anything… I do hope they’ve been honest 😊