The first five days after my son Dorian’s birth were without doubt the hardest days of my life.
This was supposed to be the happiest time for me and my husband, as we finally got to meet our little guy. But, instead, I look back on these days and feel my heart start to race as the traumatic events replay in my mind.
Postpartum anxiety and depression is no joke. For me, the things I experienced in the first days of my son’s life will always be with me, and I will never take for granted how happy and mentally and physically healthy I feel now. My son was born through an emergency C-section, and some of the things I heard and felt during the surgery were so terrifying and confusing to me that they left me with emotional scars for weeks afterward. I had a sense of losing control during the procedure, and for that reason, any time I tried to sleep in the days afterwards, I was plagued by images of being on the operation table, uncertain if my son or I would survive the event. Of course, having a newborn does crazy things to your sleep schedule anyway, but I literally went five entire days after my son was born without getting any sleep (apart from maybe a half hour nap here and there). This was truly the scariest thing I have ever been through – sleep deprivation can have such drastic, incredibly damaging effects on your mind and I was pushed to the point of near hysteria and mental breakdown. My husband and parents had to rush me to the hospital on two separate occasions, and I honestly thought that I would not be able to go on if I did not get some sort of relief. Luckily for me, the hospital I visited was full of experts in the field of postpartum anxiety, and they were able to help me quite quickly and effectively…but, I will forever remember how I felt and how terrified I was of never feeling normal again.
About two months later, I felt well enough to go to the theatre and see the movie Frozen 2 with my husband, brother and sister-in-law. The movie was wonderful (perhaps my favourite Disney film of recent years!) and I was particularly touched by the scene when Anna sings “The Next Right Thing”. Although my experience wasn’t of profound grief such as Anna faced, I had also recently been through the darkest period of my life, and I could so relate to Anna’s feeling of being utterly defeated. Truth be told, 2019 as a whole was the hardest of my life, and like Anna, I often felt like I wouldn’t be able to lift myself up and continue. But, also like Anna, I tried every day to remind myself just to get out of bed, take one step toward the kitchen, put one piece of food in my mouth, do one squat, etc. Sometimes, it’s that one act, no matter how simple, that gets you out of your slump, and I was so touched by the portrayal of Anna’s depression and her resilience in getting through it, but in a realistic, gentle and sympathetic manner. I now have this song on my phone so that I can play it whenever I am feeling the darkness creep back in.
The first few days of Dorian’s life were the darkest of mine. Thankfully, though, the days only got brighter from there and now I appreciate every sunny day I have with my little family even more by comparison.
All this to say that, life is full of dark days, some darker than others…but if you can just take one step toward the light, the days will begin to look a lot brighter.
Janille N G
Girl with a Green Heart