Hi, I’m Jayde, a Mumma of two beautiful children, William and Marley. They are my why and the reason I am still here.
Throughout my life, I have suffered bouts of depression, anxiety, and most recently postnatal depression, after the birth of my daughter Marley last year.
I got to the stage where I didn’t want to be here anymore, and it was at that exact moment when I knew I had to get help. I couldn’t do this on my own.
The hardest thing was to admit to myself that I needed help. But then, I had to start reaching out because I needed someone, anyone, to listen. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone in all of this. I needed to know that I wasn’t going crazy.
Yes, I’ve been there, and unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time that I had been through it all.
After suffering from depression as a teenager and getting through it, life was reasonably good for the most part.
Over the years, I would have highs and lows but would constantly get myself through. After vowing to myself, I would never get on antidepressants again.
I started suffering from anxiety a couple of years after my first son was born.
The Birth Of My Children
I had my first child, William, in 2011 when I was 29. I struggled a bit with postnatal depression but not bad enough to seek medication or help.
Entering The Unknown
My first contraction started about 4 am. My partner left for work and said to call me if it worsens, so I called my wonderful sister to take me to the hospital.
The pain was harsh, and the tightening of the contractions in my stomach felt unnatural. Nothing I had ever felt before, yet knowing that my body was preparing itself for what was to come, made it a little easier.
I did not know what to expect.
Even though I had thoroughly prepared myself as much as possible, I was never really prepared for it at all.
First-time Mum and had no idea of what was going to come.
I arrived at the hospital, and they told me that my contractions were too far apart and that I had only dilated 1cm and sent me home. So I proceeded to head back to my sister’s place, which was only a short drive to the hospital.
After soaking in a nice warm bath later that afternoon, the contractions came only a couple of minutes apart. This time it felt like it was time to go, and I was ready as I could be. So headed back to the hospital.
Time went by, and the night came, and then it was morning again. The contractions went on and on and. In the end, I couldn’t take anymore. I was exhausted. I just wanted this baby out.
My water hadn’t broken, so the nurse did it, and then everything gushed out and then made me walk to the delivery room.
I had listened to the screams of other mothers giving birth in the rooms next to me, and the midwife telling me, “you will have this baby on my shift,” and then watching her go home, and I was still in labour.
How much more did I have to endure?
I was exhausted.
I was exhausted
After what seemed like forever and an extremely long 42 hours of labour from start to finish, I finally had my baby boy in my arms.
I was in the hospital for five days before I was released, as Will was born with a low temperature, and I struggled to breastfeed correctly.
Once home, things were OK. My biggest fear was constantly waking up to make sure that Will was breathing.
It was hell, mind you, for the first three and a half months. I was isolated where we lived, and the only help I had was when my Mum came over for a couple of weeks from New Zealand, and my sister did what she could as well.
The early days
In the early stages, however, Will feed every two hours. I struggled majorly with breastfeeding and had cracked and bleeding nipples, and the pain was so severe that I used a nipple shield. It was the only way I was able to cope and enjoy breastfeeding.
Sleep deprivation was a killer, especially with a baby feeding every two hours, twenty-four hours per day. Not to mention a partner who comes home from work wondering why I hadn’t done anything or why I hadn’t cooked dinner for him.
The fact that I had to drive my partner to work early in the morning. It was a one-hour round trip. I would constantly have microsleeps at the wheel on my way home, and to this day, it’s still unclear how I managed to make it home safely.
After three and 1/2 months of feeling like a zombie, I put Will on the bottle, and he slept straight for 12 hours.
What the actual fuck?
Enter mum guilt.
I felt like a bad mum. I couldn’t supply my son with enough breast milk. But what a difference. To this day, this kid still sleeps 12 hours straight, and I have to drag him out of bed every morning.
Fast forward nine years.
Lots of other crap has happened in between, and lots of lessons learned.
I suffered from anxiety and had a breakdown. But it got me to where I am today, so it’s not all bad.
I eventually found my wonderful partner Troy, and finally a proper dad for my son. Within a few years of us being together, we fell pregnant, and Marley was born.
Marley’s birth was utterly different from Will’s. I was nine years older, and this pregnancy drained me completely. But, of course, my age probably had everything to do with it too. I was 38 this time around.
My hips ached during the pregnancy. I was up and down during the night, going to the toilet and tossing and turning all night long. It was a long uncomfortable nine months.
I’m in labour!
When I went into the early stages of labour with Marley, it felt entirely different than Will. She sat low in my belly, and at 41 weeks, I had felt like I was ready to pop for many months.
I started contractions about 6 am on Tuesday 25th Feb 2020, and by 9 am, I thought, yes, this was it, but as the day slowly wore on, the contractions slowed down, and I was only getting a few every hour.
Later that night, we took Will to his first footy training, and the contractions started coming on thick and strong. By 10.30 pm, after a long bath, I woke my partner up, who was asleep on the lounge, and said we needed to get to the hospital.
Second time round
The labour this time was fast and ten times more painful than Will’s birth. I screamed the hospital down that night, and I begged for an epidural, but things were moving along too fast, not fast enough to my liking.
I think the worst part would have been was when my body was telling me to push, and I hadn’t dilated to 10cm yet.
The midwife told me to hold it in and don’t push.
That was such a horrible feeling when that is all I wanted to do.
I screamed at her, “can I push now” and when she said yes, relief came, and I felt the burn of my skin tearing and stretching. I felt everything this time. Within minutes Marley was here.
Oh please get this over already
What an absolute relief when it was all over. Marley was born at 4.32 am Wednesday 26th February 2020.
Over those next few days, what followed was complete exhaustion and feeding my beautiful baby every three hours with no sleep after being awake all night in labour.
Marley’s first few days
On day two, Marley cluster-fed for twelve hours. My nipples were cracked and bleeding again. I’d had three hours of sleep in total since Marley was born. I’d had enough, and I needed a break.
I told the nurses I didn’t have anything left, and they came and squeezed my nipples as hard as possible and said, yes, you do. The pain was so intense and almost brought me to tears. I held my tongue and thought to myself, I’m not a fucking cow!
My milk didn’t come in till day three. Things were going well, other than exhaustion. I just wanted to go home. On discharge, however, they changed their minds, and Marley had to go into the NICU, and the nurses started hooking her up with lots of wires.
I was beside myself. Here we were all ready to go home, but because she had a slight temperature over the past few days. They decided at the last minute to keep her in and had found she was suffering from dehydration.
Baby blues had set in, and I had been emotional all day. So when they ripped Marley to the NICU, I was an absolute crying mess. There were so many people in there, students doing practical work, and here I was with tears rolling down my face that I couldn’t stop.
I knew that Marley was dehydrated when she cluster fed all that time. I told the nurses this, but they just brushed it away and said I had plenty of colostrum. I should have trusted my gut.
Extended hospital stay
Marley had developed crystals in her urine and was kept in the NICU for the next few days.
I was back and forwards feeding her and then when she was finished and asleep. I would go back to my bed on my own. It felt unnatural without Marley next to be but I did get some sleep.
One night I fell asleep for what seemed like minutes before the nurse rang me to say Marley needed feeding again, and exhausted as I was, I fell back asleep.
After a few minutes, I got another call from the nurse demanding I get there. Again, I’d had hardly any sleep, and I was so exhausted, I trudged back to that feeding room.
In total, we spent five days yet again in the hospital. By the time we left, I was more than ready to go home.
I had made a goal for myself that I wouldn’t be alone this time around and would lose my baby weight.
This time I wanted to make sure that I didn’t suffer from postnatal depression. In addition, I was going to join a local mum’s support group.
Life was going to be good. This time it would be easy.
Marley was not a good sleeper at night. I would feed her, and she would fall asleep. I would tickle her chin to convince her to keep going. Then, I would get up off the lounge and get her into bed.
If she woke when I put her down, I would have to start this routine all over again as she usually did. And again. And again, some nights.
Some nights I would fall asleep with her in my arms, absolutely exhausted, and I would wake up with a start, thinking I had smothered her. Then knowing that she had been asleep too, I felt like I hadn’t slept because I hadn’t gone to bed.
Then when I was trying to put her to bed again, she would wake up, and I’d need to feed her again.
It felt like a never-ending saga.
Even though I was feeding better this time, I did not feel good when going out. I was only comfortable with Marley in the football position, which wasn’t possible when we were out.
The days turned into night and days again. I was surviving on minimal sleep, and everything started to feel like an effort.
Home school and work
Marley was four weeks old when home schooling began. Sleep deprivation, breast feeding and trying to home school Will was the worst. It was such a stressful time for all of us.
The day would roll on, and 5 pm seemed to be Marley’s witching hour. Right when I needed to try and get dinner ready. Trying to feed the family and Marley at the same time was not an option.
There were some days my partner would come home from work, and I would still be feeding Marley, and I hadn’t even started dinner yet.
In the meantime, I had started working from home, as my parental leave had ended. I wasn’t ready to go back to work again. But it had to happen, with no sleep and no other option, the bills still had to be paid.
Days went by, and nights wore on.
One day, I had been up most of the night with Marley, and I was so sleep-deprived that I was in a terrible mood.
My partner came home from work late, and he said to me, “what’s wrong?” I screamed back at him, “How could you not know what’s wrong?”
I broke down into tears and ran to the bedroom, thinking how the fuck could he not know what I was going through?.
How could he not know that I had been up all night with Marley? That I was exhausted and that I’d had a crappy day.
Every day was crappy. I needed him to come home early. I couldn’t do this on my own, and I was struggling. I needed help.
I had tried to tell him. But he didn’t understand.
Postnatal depression had grabbed hold of me and pulled me into a deep, dark hole.
Enough was enough
I wiped my tears away and came back into the kitchen, and helped get dinner ready. Like nothing had happened. I was like a robot.
The breakdowns and tears started happening regularly.
I would go off and break down at my partner for no reason. Finally, he got to the stage where he didn’t want to come home to me. I couldn’t blame him. I was a horrible person. But he didn’t understand that I needed him more than ever.
He came home to a partner that was always in a terrible mood and would yell at him for no apparent reason. Thinking that I was always angry at him, so he would prefer to stay at work a bit later so he wouldn’t have to deal with me.
Maybe he was right.
What the hell was wrong with me?
I kept asking myself this question, what was wrong with me.
I was struggling immensely and fighting with my partner all the time.
He didn’t understand why I was so sad and angry all the time. Then starting to cry for no reason, and I didn’t even know why myself.
I started thinking that I wasn’t a good person, a good mum, or anything. It got so bad that my thoughts would be that they would all be better off without me. I believed that my beautiful family, who I loved with all my heart, would be better off without me.
I felt like……..
- I was worthless
- I was empty
- I was tired
- I was drained
- I felt that no one understood me
- I felt like I was alone
- I felt like nothing
- I had nothing left to give my family
- I had nothing to give to myself
- I wanted to be free of these horrible thoughts that subsided within me
- I wanted my pain to end
- I wanted to stop hurting my family
- I believed my family deserved better than what I could give them
- I got to the lowest of lows
- I didn’t want to be here anymore
- I wanted to die
Postnatal depression had stepped in and taken over.
It was then at that exact moment where I realised I needed help, and I couldn’t do this on my own this time. I had bought my son up on my own and struggled immensely, but this was different.
I started speaking up to anyone and everyone I could.
But, knowing that my partner didn’t understand, and the fact that we had this beautiful family and everything going for us, was still a constant battle.
It took months before he finally understood what postnatal depression was.
However, I persevered, and I still reached out, and I told my family and my friends that I was not OK, I was not coping well and struggling with everything, and I was suffering from postnatal depression.
The amount of courage to say those four words is tremendous.
Marley was six months old at this stage.
I made an effort to get to our community health nurse for a check-up with Marley, and I told her I was not OK and was suffering from postnatal depression.
She then provided me with the information and promised a call from a counsellor within a few weeks. (Covid was still running wild at that stage, and they were busy)
In the meantime, the nurse had also got me an appointment at Tresillian.
That beautiful nurse gave me options. She was terrific, and I can’t thank her enough for what she did for me.
The fact that she cared and seen how much I was struggling was the most extensive help I could get.
Getting the help I needed
My first visit to Tresillian was scary. I was on my own, and in the state that I was in when I pulled up to the car park, there was no vacant space. The nearest parking spot was about a kilometre away.
My first thought was to panic, drive home again, and call and say I couldn’t make it, to take the easy way out.
To think what may have happened to me if I hadn’t turned around and found a park. To have lost my nerve and not followed through with the visit, I wonder where I would be now, or if I would even still be here!
The beginning of my recovery
I walked into the reception and looked directly at a Mum who looked like she had her shit together, and I felt even lower, sadder even more.
Every mother seemed to have their shit together but me. So why wasn’t I coping as a mother?
I’d had a son ten years before but with my beautiful baby girl, and I loved her so, I didn’t think that I was worthy of this beautiful child who depended on me to survive, just like my son did.
I was so depressed and had no self-esteem, and felt like nothing most of the time.
I thought I wasn’t good enough to be a mum, and I shouldn’t be here. That everybody would probably be better off without me if I weren’t here. I could end my suffering.
But that mother had probably felt like I was. She may have already battled her postnatal depression.
I was so nervous.
I walked in through the door, and with Covid, I had to sign in and sit down in a specific area to fill out some forms. The receptionist then told me to go and sit in another waiting room and wait for the counsellor.
Feeling nervous, the counsellor came in, and within the time I was there, I managed to get off my chest how I was truly feeling.
I also saw a psychologist that day, and he determined that I was suffering from moderate depression.
He prescribed me antidepressants. Something I had feared from my teenage years and something I had vowed never to take again. I had never wanted to go back on them but knew I needed something to change.
So I trusted the process and agreed to take the pills.
I needed this. Postnatal depression was not going to beat me. I had a reason to live.
The process begins
I drove home that day anxious about having to take those pills. But I went and got that prescription and started on them the next day.
The first day I took them, my anxiety ran wild, and it felt like I was spaced out and couldn’t focus. Trying to work and was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time, I wouldn’t say I liked this feeling and didn’t want to do this to myself again.
I waited a week and got the courage up to try again.
However, this time, I made sure I was calm and kept telling myself that everything would be OK. I had a better mindset, and I wasn’t scared of what the tablets would do to me. So I tried again and didn’t get any side effects at all.
It wasn’t easy, but I took steps to get the help that I knew I needed. I knew that I couldn’t do this on my own.
After some time, they made me feel normal and are continuing to take them every day.
The steps I took to get through postnatal depression
- I admitted to myself I need help
- I spoke up
- I started reaching out to my family and friends
- I went to the community health nurse
- I went to my GP
- I got counselling
- I went to Tresillian
- I started taking antidepressants
- I slowly started to feel normal again
- I got through it
Not all Mum’s can see what is happening to them.
Sometimes they don’t get the support they need. They don’t reach out, and they don’t understand what is happening to them. Postnatal depression can also lead to psychosis or wanting to harm your baby or themselves.
Some mothers feel that they don’t have a choice, and they commit suicide.
Suicide is too much of a standard option these days for many people in this world.
The more we talk about this, the more awareness we raise.
The final chapter
I started Mumma by Your Side because I want you to know that you can get through it, and you are not alone. I sincerely hope that sharing my story of postnatal depression will help other mothers in a similar circumstance.
My goal is to help as many mothers as possible and find resources and products to help make a Mum’s life easier. So you don’t have to endure what I went through and what many other mothers go through.
Mumma, we are all doing a fantastic job, and even though it can be challenging, you are not alone. I promise you that.
Together we will get through this.
Love Jayde xxx.