In 1998 the Goo Goo Dolls released a song called “Iris” – it was used on the film “City of Angels” and with the angelic connection I think that maybe that’s why I have been listening to it a lot recently because it really makes me think of Poppy and everything that has happened. The chorus “I dont want the world to see me cause I don’t think that they’d understand” is the best way to describe how I feel at this stage of my grief and also how I felt when I was suffering years ago with PND/PPD.
I have a very blessed life; a great husband, children, big families with loads of laughs and excellent friends. We own our home, drive a car, take the occasional holiday and eat delicious food. What does someone like me with my lovely life have to be sad about? on the outside, other than a few extra quid, life couldn’t get much better – but wise people know “not to judge a book by its cover” as often what appears on the surface isn’t the true picture.
Not everyone in my life or the people I meet and see daily know that inside i’m treading water and if I stop I may sink because I am in a state of grief following the stillbirth of my 3rd child. Less people in my life knew 4 years ago, after the birth of little E my dreamy life was tarnished with an illness commonly known as PND – it was a dark period where to see myself made me angry, to hear my baby cry made me cry, to feed made me cringe and to feel happiness seemed impossible, I detached from things I enjoyed and cried A LOT! I became obsessed with cleaning my home and never went out without make up on, all to prove I could cope when in reality I was broken and life felt chaotic.
Look at him a beautiful and content little boy – what did I have to be sad about? If only they knew – It was such a difficult time and something I have a fear of returning because of grief. Yes I worry if I cry too much it may turn into PND once again, you see I have days where I don’t want to go out, where I cry so much – to the midwife/health visitor classic PND signs, but I am learning whilst it feels familiar it is not because when the tears fall they are not because I am depressed but overcome with grief, my heart is broken and my arms empty. I stay in or live as a hermit at times because I don’t want to explain myself, I dont’t want to feel alone when surrounded by so many people and I know wherever I go something will remind me of my loss and those around wont know the grief, pain and emptiness I feel, in some ways like I did 4 years ago when everyone I met cooed over my new baby not knowing the battle I was fighting.
Ive thought about this a lot recently and thought of how my experience of Post natal depression compares to my experience of grief:
- Both began with a birth but instead of new life and joy – pain, struggling and loneliness were born into my life
- Both are emotional battles that only those who have experienced it can understand
- Both take time to heal from
- Because only a few people know it, grief and PND are very isolating and a very lonely place to be
- Both put me in a state of auto pilot and only doing the absolute essentials
- Both made it difficult to rest/take time out because someone was dependent on me
- Both are taboo subjects that people close up and switch off from, making you feel awkward and wondering why you ever mentioned it
My daughter Poppy is something I want to remember, PND is something I want to forget and with remembering comes all of the emotions. I will always talk about her and I will always be reminded of her, it’s something I can’t always avoid nor want to but that doesn’t take away the initial and very present struggle I have. Often I DONT cover up my feelings with make up because I learnt 4 years ago to accept in difficulty that this is who I am right now and people probably think I look pretty rough some days but I know like with every other struggle it wont dominate forever and I’ll again have energy to care!
Whilst I healed from PND,and life went back to normal and I did become happy again (you will too) which in turn released me from it to move forward in my role as mother and get back to normal, I have learnt from others that I will never heal from this loss. I do have moments of joy, and periods where I can laugh (like I said I am blessed) but the reality of grief as oppose to my PND is that whilst I one day will be able to be in control of grief, the feelings from infant loss will always be carried with me, I will always have a hole in my heart as its not something I can leave behind when I have found happiness again because a part of me has left this earth and emotions may surface at any point whether it be in 2 yrs or 20 yrs. PND has left me being a little more protective over Ethan, perhaps even giving into him a little more than I probs should because of the guilt of it all but I can truthfully say my mind is healed.
There are people all around us suffering like me when on the surface their lives seem mint! Some battle health problems and disease, infertility or PND – the new mother in your class may not be as happy as she would have you believe, her life may be crumbling around her and I don’t know how many other women I cross paths with that know the heartache of infant loss…probably most of them “don’t want the world to see them” because they don’t think the world understands. There are those that do understand, whose heart connects instantly because of your loss or because you both climbed and conquered PND but the majority won’t understand, and may never, it doesn’t mean they cant support, can send you a love note, chocolate, flowers, go on a walk and listen to your madness and let you know you are loved and it will all be alright in the end. These things to me were and now during this difficulty are, a silver lining or a little ray of sunshine to this
huge, no MASSIVE thunderstorm that will not disperse!
Look around you, you may not understand their journey but you can support & help them to find joy again in life.