Grieving The Missing Happiness


Looking at baby photos of your child should evoke wonderful, happy and loving memories of those first months or years together. For me, the love I feel is indeed intense; I squeal at how impossibly cute and small he looks and show the pics off to anyone who’ll listen. But inside part of me is crying, screaming and shaking with rage, because I can count on one hand the number of times I felt joy during the first six months of my son’s life.  
From the moment he was born I was desperately clawing away from him, away from myself and the whole planet really. I couldn’t feel love and joy because I was too busy feeling terror and misery. Almost every memory tastes bittersweet. There are very few photographs of me at this time and the ones that do exist are the toughest of all to look at, only those closest to me would notice the haunted look in my eyes but to me it’s crystal clear and horrifying. 
I remember vividly the very first time I felt true happiness about being a mum, when I could see a future full of hope and brightness. It was 10th Aug 2013, four days after my 30th birthday and my son was three and a half months old. I was on medication, attending therapy and coping. We had arranged a low-key lunch at a local pub with immediate family and I was having a “good day”, during a time when these were still quite rare and very precious. I’d left the table to go to the bathroom and caught sight of myself in the mirror, there was a light in my eyes I hadn’t seen for quite some time. I realised I wanted to get back out there and see my son, I wanted to take him out of my dad’s arms and cuddle him. I wanted to live and, more importantly, I wanted to live as his mum. I felt a thrill run down my spine that was born of genuine excitement rather than fear. There was a photo taken a few minutes later of me, my son and my dad which I will forever feel deeply connected to.  
Feelings like this didn’t exactly come thick and fast from then onwards but it was yet another optimistic turning point on the long, winding road that is PND recovery.  
That was August. Several months since my baby arrived and it is my first memory of feeling happy and connected to my new life as a parent. That fact is heartbreaking for me 
I look at those earlier pictures through the eyes of who I am now and I love him so much. I’m consumed by it. I want to dive right through the screen, and hold that tiny baby in my arms so tightly. I want to go back in time and live those moments again as a healthy mummy. I want to squeeze out every possible moment of happiness from that time like I’m wringing a sponge.  
But I can’t go back. I can’t look at those photographs and not remember the way I felt sick with anxiety; the way my hands were trembling while I held him; the way I wished away the hours and how nothing felt real.  
And, Christ, that hurts. It hurts like nothing else I’ve ever felt in my life. That pain takes many forms. Sometimes I lock myself away with a box of photos and just have a bloody good, long cry. Other times I’m so consumed with rage I could smash down walls. Sometimes I just grab my son and squeeze him for as long as I can before he squirms away. I used to think these feelings were part of the recovery process, that I wasn’t well until these emotions were duly felt, expressed and catalogued neatly away. But, actually, I’m coming to see that still feeling desperately sad about what happened doesn’t mean I’m still ill, it simply means I’m a human who went through a totally horrible experience and who needs plenty of time and opportunity to process that.  
I guess it is a bereavement of sorts, the last two years have certainly covered all the stages of grief. And like with any painful event, it is eased somewhat by the passage of time. I wouldn’t say I feel any less sad or cheated than I did but I certainly feel it less often, and I don’t allow to impact on the present as much.  
I’m grateful for many things in terms of my treatment and recovery, least of all how quickly I recognised PND (or it was recognised in me) and that I got treatment fast. I’m lucky that I only feel I missed six months of my son’s life, and not longer. If any of you are reading this now and suspect you may be suffering please reach for help. Nobody will judge you and professionals will want to help you. Let’s try to limit the volume of memories damaged.  
I wrote this post because I was looking at photos just tonight. And, yes, I cried a little. Then I snuck upstairs and gazed at my little man sleeping peacefully and beautifully, while feeling pretty peaceful myself, and I figured that is better than any photo anyway. My husband simply says “only look forward”, and that’s really good advice. 

Stopping at two
Best of Worst

22 comments on “Grieving The Missing Happiness

  1. Thank you for the article…its very informative and soothing.However I feel like I have regressed and can’t seem to overcome the pain.I have two beautiful girls and I thank God for them.The baby We lost was a boy and for me he would have completed our family. But now he’s gone and noyhing makes sense anymore.I have high blood pressure since my second born and it break my heart that I might not be able to have another…and have to keep reflecting on my loss and wishing I could have done more to prevent it…**tears** Ps: lost my baby boy a day after birth in December.RIP boy I will never forget you.

    1. I’m so very sorry for your loss. This is a loss of a very different nature and I can’t imagine how you must feel. Please remember though there is NOTHING you could have done to prevent what happened. Have you had bereavement counselling since your son passed away?

      1. I’m sorry, but I believe you are misunderstanding this post. I believe she is not talking about grieving the loss (death) of a child, she is talking about grieving the loss of those precious moments when her son was a baby and she was suffering with postpartum depression.

  2. Thank you for being so open and honest. You are amazingly strong to have come through feelings like that. I think you’re right about the recovery too – when it comes to grief, time doesn’t heal, but it helps you make peace with it. Beautifully written. And your husband is very wise 🙂 #sundaystars

  3. Lovely post. I feel like I lost the first month of my son’s life, but that was down to the stress of breastfeeding. Glad you’re on the mend now. I found you via #SundayStars 🙂

  4. Aw this is beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I went through something similar although not as bad. I sometimes look back and wish I had loved her then as I love her now but like your husband says: only look forward. Glad you are much better now x #SundayStars

  5. You are such an amazing and strong woman to have written this and shared it. PND is horrific and so misunderstood by anyone who hasn’t experienced it. Sending you lots of love, and thanks for sharing this on #SundayStars

  6. Such beautiful honesty. Photos are so evocative when they are personal to you – that is the marketing brilliance of Instagram – to the outside world they look like an event, to you they are feelings x

  7. I find this post very interesting and I love your honesty and openness with your trials you have endured. I had PND too after my 1st and very mildly with the second. I cannot relate to the horrors you have described, because I never really thought mine was as severe as some women have it and would hate to pretend I do. I just remember it was such a miserable time, I hated how being a mum made me look, how angry I felt when I had to feed and how it wasn’t til 5 months later I bonded. At any level its horrible to feel negative when its such a joyful event.

    I had a still birth last year and so know grief and loss, I find it interesting you describe this aspect of life as grief and what you lost, because thats a very real side to it.. I wrote a post shortly after my loss comparing the feelings and emotions and thoughts to that of my PND days.

    Keep going mama and keep loving, all he will know and remember is love and be kind to yourself xx #bestandworst

  8. What a fabulous post. I am so sorry you went through such a hard time but grateful it was recognised and it sounds like you had the support of an amazing husband (very good advice at the end). I think it sounds like you have been grieving for the time you missed and of course you should be upset and even raging. It must have been awful. I really hope other read this and take inspiration and courage to get help and get happier again. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst and see you soon xx

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I have grown and moved on a lot since I wrote this post a few months ago and feel I have let go of more grief and anger. It will take time for me to let go of it all, and maybe I never will, but things are getting so much better all the time. Blogging helps so much too x

  9. Thank you. Its the first time Ive read something that describes the grief I felt over the loss of a calm bonded year. The first year of my sons life was the worst of mine. I never could have imagined the pain, I just felt like it snapped every thing inside of me and I came out of it an entirely different person. It was 18 months before I remember the pain lessening although I do have one happy memory with my son at about 6 months. 3 years later we braved a second. I told myself it would be different- I would do everything differently so I would make those happy memories second time around. But it wasnt different. Only this time I try to realise that this will pass and force a smile at my daughters baby face.

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