It’s an incredibly hard thing to go through. To put it in its simplest form, postnatal depression sucks. It really sucks. But having things you can fall back on are vital if you want to pull yourself through to the other side.
For me, I’ve had depression on and off for years, but this felt different. I was used to depression, but having it towards my baby felt horrendous, especially after wanting her for so many years. But having depression for that long taught me something, it taught me that I can find ways to pull myself out when I’m in a slump. So I looked at postnatal depression in the same way. I knew I could find things that would help me learn to love Isabelle, even if there was a part of me telling me not to try.
I tried a lot of things. I tried being involved, changing the nappies, playing with her every morning, letting her sleep on me and connecting more with my wife. But what worked the best, was something that was pretty simple. Just going away.
It didn’t matter where, but we just wanted to go somewhere different. Away from all the distractions of the house, the visitors, the housework, the animals and the same four walls that had been staring at us.
The first time we did it, Isabelle was 8 weeks old, and we took her to the seaside town of Weston. I’ll always remember it as it was the first time she ever smiled at me. She actually smiled at me. For the 8 weeks previous I felt that we had a mutual hatred for each other. I didn’t like her, and she didn’t seem to like me either. Maybe I took things too personal, when I look back now it was simply her wanting feeding, and since my wife breastfed, obviously I wasn’t the one she wanted.
But that day, with her propped on the bed watching me walk around the room, she smiled. And I felt something inside me grow. It was love, and for the first time since her birth I actually felt like I loved her. It didn’t last long, but it was there. And from then on I knew it could grow. I had found something that really helped.
So we did it again. A few weeks later we went to Bournemouth, this time for 2 nights. Then to Glastonbury for 2 nights. And very recently we went around the country on a 6 day trip of the UK. Every time we do it, I’m reminded of how much I love her, and more importantly how much she loves me. Seeing her face when she’s somewhere new lights me up. Maybe she’s just a slightly evil baby, and merely likes the fact I’m spending my money on her, I don’t know. All I do know is this: she absolutely loves it. And when she loves it, I love it.
If you want my advice, I’d suggest booking a hotel somewhere and getting away with the baby. I can easily picture myself, my wife and Isabelle all together in a hotel on the seafront, taking a stroll down to the beach then watching the sunset from the window. It’s something I can picture whenever I feel myself start to slip. If things ever start to get rough I can take my mind back to that place and remember how much I love her.