PND series anonymous

PND series: mom of 3

Note: this woman decided to remain anonymous in her story. I respect her decision 100%, so should you.

For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to be a mom, I was the second oldest of 15 cousins and from the age of 10 I spent countless school holidays and weekends helping look after the newest members of the family. My friends and I had planned out our pregnancies and had lists of baby names prepared for years, it was on the top of our priority lists to become moms.


The first time I fell pregnant I was 21 years old and I was happier than I had ever been. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be and after 8 weeks I lost the pregnancy while at work in a very busy, upmarket hair salon, my boss was incredibly unsympathetic to my dark cloud of depression and I quickly resigned. I was more desperate and determined to fall pregnant after my miscarriage, all I wanted was a baby to love and cherish. Losing my baby had come just after losing a precious friend to a terrible accident overseas and I was overcome with sadness.

Baby girl

Six months later I found myself pregnant again, I really tried not to get too excited until my 13 week scan when I knew the baby was staying put. We were having a little girl and I was ecstatic. My pregnancy was easy, I was only nauseas once and I think if I picked up 6kgs it was a lot! I was thrown the most beautiful baby-shower and my entire world was just one big pink cloud of happiness. We were still so naïve at that point as to how life would be with a baby but I was just so looking forward to finally becoming a mom that everything else was just a blur.

I remember going to my doctor and him telling me that baby hadn’t grown in the last 2 visits and my placenta was calcifying. It was time; 3 weeks before her actual due date! Cue major excitement!

The day she was born was a day I will never forget. I was in theatre having a Caesar at 22 years old and my life would quite literally never be the same. Little did I know the roller coaster from hell we would be on for the next while.

Born day

My precious daughter born on 2 September 2009 at 5:43pm weighing in at a tiny 2.9kgs. She was whisked away from me right after being born and my husband went with her to the nursery while I had a minor surgery. By the time I was wheeled into my ward almost 2 hours later, desperate to see my newborn, it was visiting hours and I had approximately 6 to 8 people waiting to see us. Heaven only knows this should not have been allowed. My baby was brought to me through the chaos of my surroundings and all I can remember is being completely overwhelmed with a sea of faces looking at me while the nurses tried to latch her to my chest, I was so aware of everyone watching, was I doing everything right or was everyone judging my failures?

Anxiety started to appear

Night one was still a complete novelty and I was just so in love with my daughter I barely put her down. I remember day 2 came along and I started feeling quite anxious and tearful. I didn’t want her dad or my mom to leave me but I also didn’t want them there, I cant explain it. I put on a brave face that day but by day 3 I was unable to function. I cried all day regardless of visitors, I fought with her dad and kicked him out of the hospital because he picked the baby up when I didn’t want anyone to touch her and then called him crying to come back.

I loved her ferociously but I was afraid of her, afraid that she had changed my world, changed me, changed the dynamic in every part of my life. I was absolutely terrified. What had I done? My mom noticed the signs immediately as she had suffered with PND when she had me, she called the doctor to come in and help. The Dr was very relaxed and told me I had no reason to feel the way I was and she gave me a script for a few medicines that were meant to help. They didn’t. I refused to leave the hospital on the 3rd day after my c-section so I stayed another day in the hopes that my feelings of despair would somehow disappear.

In the interim a decision had been made that I wouldn’t go home but I would go to my mother’s farm about 2 hours away for a few weeks until I found my feet. My partner was working 24/7 and he didn’t want me home alone while feeling like this.


I arrived at my mom’s house overwhelmed, I missed my boyfriend, my freedom and my sleep, I spent most of the day in bed crying. I can remember dreading having to feed her because I would have to touch her and hold her. Two things I couldn’t bear to do. My mom and sister took turns to look after her while I barely functioned. I remember my partner coming to visit me late at night as he was working close by, he would drive to me over weekends or during the week after work. These visits made me even more stressed because I felt the need to pretend to be happy, I wouldn’t allow myself to be down around him and so he never really understood what feedback he would get from my mom and sister when he wasn’t there. I never wanted him to think that I wasn’t perfectly happy, I thought he would surely judge me as well and I couldn’t handle another person judging me. He had given me the most beautiful gift and I didn’t want it, I felt like the most ungrateful person ever and I didn’t want him to know.

When I think back on those weeks I remember the blackness I was in. I wasn’t okay and I couldn’t describe the way I was feeling, along with the self-loathing and guilt I felt about not wanting the baby I so desperately needed I decided I would rather die. After a particularly horrific few days of not wanting to even be in the same room as my child, even begging my mom to let me give her up for adoption, my parents made the decision to hospitalise me. I was not eating any food and I wasn’t taking in any fluids and I was talking about taking my life daily. I would lock myself in my room after sneaking the baby into my mom’s room at night so I didn’t need to care for her and I think at that point they realised they had done everything they could for me and my state was far more than they could handle.

I was admitted into a clinic in the next town and was there for 5 days, I was so ashamed, I was ashamed to admit the truth to my partner, the secret I had hidden so well. He was so gracious towards me and I remember feeling so guilty and helpless at that point, I was sure he would leave me after admitting I felt that having a baby was a mistake. I spoke to nobody for 5 days, I took the medication I was given and went through the motions. It really was not helping. I came out of the clinic and fell straight back into a violent depression.

The psychologist

Soon after, my mom took me to a psychologist, I remember the entire idea being incredibly random but at that point she was probably as desperate as I was. I think the Dr and I both stared at one another in silence for about 15 minutes before he spoke, I am positive he was in over his head. An older Afrikaans man with a young, English, suicidal mom sitting in front of him, surely not a sight he was used to. He finally spoke, and when he did it was honestly the most profound moment I had experienced in the entire time since I had had my baby. He said to me, each feeling you have and thought that runs through your mind, you need to T-H-I-N-K. Are your thoughts towards yourself Truthful? Are they Helpful? Do they Inspire you? Are they Necessary? Are they Kind? It was the first time I felt heard in 5 weeks. It was the first time I felt my mind clear. I left there not feeling much better but I knew something had to give. I couldn’t continue to feel this way and it was up to me to try and overcome the deep sense of terror that had taken over.

A change was coming

My parents were going to Johannesburg for the weekend that next week and I can recall feeling utter horror and fear that I would be alone for an entire weekend with a baby I had barely held, let alone bonded with. I decided I would be better off in Cape Town with her dad and the rest of my extended family. I packed up all our belongings and headed off with a lot of uncertainty and fear, it was going to be a long 3 days. The three of us had a packed weekend of family visiting and we attempted an evening out with a 6week old baby. I felt relatively normal and it surprised me! While we were out she slept the entire evening and our friends doted on her when it was time to feed her. I remember going back home after that braai and realising how blessed I was. We had had the most amazing day and we stayed up just holding and cuddling her until we all fell asleep in the same bed.

The next morning we went out again and it was like the debilitating storm clouds I was under had vanished. I found myself smiling more than once, laughing even! I never went back to my moms house, we decided to leave our flat and moved into my dads house while we focused on getting my mental health stable and my partner could work knowing I was safe and close to family.

When I have a quiet moment to myself and I think back to those early days I really am so disappointed that I missed out on precious moments with my first born, it was stolen from me by a terrible monster and those moments with her I will never get back. I will always be filled with gratitude for the people that carried us through, both of my parents and my sister, my husband for his patience while I all but hated his guts and most importantly to my daughter who will one day hopefully know how much I adore her, the desperate measures that were taken to ensure she was loved and cared for. To this day she has a beautiful bond with my mom that I know comes from those early weeks and I will always be grateful she felt the love she deserved.

A solid support system

When I fell pregnant a year later I made sure I was cared for properly by a fantastic psychiatrist and a solid support system. I was still very anxious when my son was born but it was definitely a far cry from the way I was feeling the first time round. I cherished every smell, every feed, every single moment those first weeks that I missed out with my daughter. It really was eye opening knowing I had missed out on so many beautiful moments that I cant ever get back…when my 3rd beautiful baby arrived two years ago I can honestly say that he healed me. He filled all the broken bits in my parenting journey with his tiny but ‘larger than life’ soul.

I am worthy, I am loved, I am not alone

As the subject of PND becomes less taboo, I have done a lot of reading, I know now that I still suffer from what is called Post Natal OCD. It is something I am learning to deal with, I allow myself to really feel my feelings, the more I do that the quicker the negativity leaves me. I try my utmost to not allow negative thought patterns to control me, I am worthy, I am loved and I am not alone!

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