My baby boy, Miles, was born April 7th, 2013. I was happy he was here, but bewildered, and not sure what to do, as he is my first. We struggled with breastfeeding from the start. Everyone assured me we would be fine. We weren't. For four weeks we struggled some more. I felt immense pressure to breastfeed, but I hated it, and due to the amount my child was crying (since in the end he wasn't getting much from me), I found myself angry at my child. This tiny human was on me all the time, demanding more, and it was never enough. 

I would say this definitely became the catalyst for developing post partum depression and anxiety. He cried all the time. When I put him to the breast, because of his poor latch, it was so painful I cried. My nipples were cracking and bruised. This was not the idyllic bonding moment I had pictured for nine months. 

In the end, I gave up on breastfeeding and switched to formula. Suddenly I had a full, happy baby that starting growing like a weed. Problem solved, right? Wrong. My anxiety crept up more and more. I began to worry what would happen if I took him out in public and he cried. I felt people were staring at me, thinking I was a terrible mother for not being able to soothe her child. When I was having a "good" day, and took him out in public, and the crying or even just simple fussing happened, I would melt down in a full panic attack. I would suddenly be drenched in sweat from head to toe. I couldn't find the nearest exit to the street and fresh air. I felt dizzy and sick, short of breath, my heart beating a mile a minute. I would get to the car somehow, strap him in to his carseat, both of us in full meltdown mode. I would be driving fast to get home, tears streaming down my face, feeling so completely out of control, but needing to get home as soon as possible in order to feel "safe".

I avoided going out. I paced the floors of my house with my baby. I felt like I was in a cage, but didn't want to get out. I was afraid. If I did go out with Miles, it would be something safe, like going for a walk in the neighbourhood with my husband. That was it. Again, on "good" days, I would go on a walk with a friend but if he fussed on the walk, I retreated as politely as possible, afraid that my friends would see this "other side" of me. I was embarrassed I was acting so strangely.

I would have horrible thoughts pop in to my head at random times. Thinking about how I could hang myself, and how I would do it near the end of the day so Miles would not be left alone in his crib for too long before my husband arrived home. I dreamed of running away, dropping Miles off at my mother's house and driving until I couldn't drive anymore. I worried about everything to do with Miles. What if I was so tired, I tripped over the cat while I was holding him, and he would fly through the air and hit the wall, exploding his head? Carrying him down a flight of carpeted stairs and slipping, him falling out of my arms and breaking his neck? Thoughts like this almost EVERY SINGLE DAY.

At 8 weeks my son went for his first sets of shots, and the public health nurse gave me the PPD screening questionnaire, the Edinburgh test. My score was through the roof. So she sent a referral for me to see a counselor that is a specialist in PPD disorders. I waited one month to get in to see her. Within that first visit she felt that my disorder was more chemically based, and would probably benefit from counselling and a visit with a psychiatrist. She was not able to refer me to the psychiatrist who specializes in this, only my family doctor (who was on long term disability, so I was suddenly doctorless) or my midwife. 

I took up the subject with my midwife at our final visit, and she said that the referral would go in, and likely a wait of 6 to 8 weeks to see the psychiatrist. I braced myself for almost two more months of "hanging on" with what felt like just the tips of my fingertips.

Three more weeks passed. I had heard nothing from the psychiatrist's office - surely they'd received my referral and would be calling me with my appointment by now? I just wanted a date, mark it with a big red "X" something that I could count down on the calendar. Just hang on a little longer. 

I saw my counselor again again and she thought something was strange. She found the number for the office for me - and I called the next day. They had never heard of me, had not received my referral. Once again, I was at square one, and needed help. I called my midwife to ask if it had gone in, she left me a message saying it had. Somewhere along the way, it had fallen through the cracks. Whether it was my midwife, who had forgotten, or a problem with technology receiving it on the other end. Who knows? But the point was, I had to wait almost EIGHT weeks at this point, due to summer holidays. 

My baby was now over 4 months old. I had been suffering like this for over 4 months. One morning, I could not get Miles back to sleep. It was 4:30 or 5 in the morning and I was so, so tired. I felt like I was drifting out to sea. Those fingertips that had been keeping me on the ledge were bloodied and worn away. I could not hang on one second longer. I was weeping, sobbing uncontrollably, swept away in another panic attack. My husband woke up and overheard me on the baby monitor, took Miles from me and put his arms around both of us. We would figure something out, he said.

When he had put Miles back to sleep, he came to bed and we talked about our game plan. He said that he could not bear to see me living like this another day (bless his heart), and we had to take matters into our own hands. So he took the day off work, drove me to the emergency room and I had myself checked in to the psych ward for observation and help. It was one of the scariest days of my life, sitting next to people with cuts up their arms, people without shoes because they would try and strangle themselves or someone else, people staring at the floor sadly looking at nothing, people with armed guards watching over them. Was I one of those people?

It took almost a full day, pacing around a psych ward to be seen by a nurse, a medical doctor, and finally, a psychiatrist - who, coincidentally, was the psychiatrist I was waiting to see. She looked into my face and told me that I would be okay, and I cried with my head in my hands. She prescribed me medication for anxiety and for depression. When I left that ward with the sun on my face and a prescription in my hands I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I had done something in my fight. I was a warrior.

Now, almost a month later, I feel better and happier than I have in my entire life. It's so strange and wonderful. 

The other day I had a defining moment in motherhood. I was watching Miles go to town in his Jolly Jumper, having the best time ever, that I cried. I couldn't stop the tears flowing because this was the FIRST time since he was born, including right after his birth - that I cried tears of pure JOY. I held my head up and let the tears spill down my face and neck and soaked it in. This moment here, is what it was supposed to be like to be a mother. I will remember this moment forever.