There is a long history of PND and physical abuse in my family; my mum, her mum, her mum’s mum, and likely further back too. I have spent a huge chunk of my life being told that I would be the one to ‘break the cycle’ and that things would be different for me. My mum has always had this theory that the issues within our family centre around the first born female. I know, sounds like a Cinderella curse, doesn’t it?!
But there does actually seem to be a kind of pattern; my nan was physically abused by her mother, and there is little evidence of a bond between them. Yet the bond between my great grandma and her other children was a beautiful one. My mum was physically abused by her mother, and their bond was not only non-existent but it was tangible sometimes that my nan harboured a kind of pure hate for my mum. Yet my nan has always doted on her four other children, especially the one male whom she would literally declare was the ‘apple of her eye’.
My mum suffered acutely with PND after she had me, to the point that she openly discusses having vivid thoughts about causing me harm. When my brother was born, it struck my mum that the way she felt about him was not the way that she felt about me, and she accepted that something was wrong and finally asked for help.
Would I Be Next?
When I fell pregnant and the date of my 20 week scan loomed, I began to feel more and more anxious about the sex of my unborn child. What if it was girl? What if I couldn’t love it? What if I got really sick? What if I wanted to hurt it? To block these thoughts out, I spent the best part of 20 weeks telling anyone who would listen “I just feel like he’s a boy”.
The day of my 20 week scan was not a happy one for me. My partner had been excited for weeks about finally being able to buy something in a colour other than white, cream or lemon and had planned a post-scan shopping spree. But I roamed around the shops in a bit of a daze, sure that my disappointment, fear, and inner turmoil was written across my face for all to see and judge. My partner couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting all coo-ey over cute miniature items of clothing. He couldn’t understand why he was laden with an armful of items while I was half-heartedly swinging a gender non-specific bib on my finger.
It’s A Girl
Those words “it’s a girl” had struck me like a lead balloon. All my fears, concerns and worries were racing around my brain, and it’s safe to say that I spent the next 19 weeks petrified of my unborn child. I was afraid of what she might do to me when she was born, and what I might want to do to her. It felt like the invisible pressure of ‘breaking the cycle’ was weighing on my shoulders throughout the whole of my pregnancy. The thought that I might hate her pressed down on me every single day. But I didn’t say a word to anyone, because I already felt like an awful person and worried that people would judge me.
The moment that Amelia was handed to me, I remember feeling every fear and worry literally dissolve in an instant to be replaced with just one word; Wow. But I know that it could have easily been a very different scenario. I know that for so many women the reality is that those fears and worries are brought to life in a very real and very scary and emotional way.
This is why resources and communities like Happy New Mum (run by Meagan from The Mum Project) are so invaluable. Sometimes just to know that you are not alone, or that there are other people out there willing to talk about feeling the same way as you do, is enough to help you through what can be a really dark time. And if it isn’t enough, communities like this one can help you to find the right resource in the right place that will help you through.
This post first appeared on Happy New Mum.