I know all parents say this but I cannot believe that you are turning 4. When you were first born it was hard to imagine that you would ever do anything other than feed, sleep, poo, repeat… Yet in the blink of an eye those sleep deprived early days are gone and I am here wondering how on Earth my baby has turned into a full of life 4 year old.
I always feel very reflective when you and your brother’s birthday come around. A time to look back and look at those early days probably through rose tinted glasses. Days powered by cold cups of tea and dry shampoo. Days of toddler groups, tea and cake and you lying on my chest for sleepy cuddles wishing that you didn’t have to get bigger.
But it certainly wasn’t all sleepy cuddles and feeling deliriously happy. At 4 Matthew I’m sure you don’t remember a time when Mummy was sad all the time, but for a while after you were born Mummy was very poorly. I hope that when you are bigger I can explain exactly what happened and what it felt like but for now I can say Mummy had something called Post Natal Depression.
During that time Mummy wasn’t herself at all. Mummy felt very sad, all of the time, not for any reason at all. I suddenly lost interest in things that I had loved before, like a light had gone out and my whole world was grey and dark. I would lie awake all night listening for you, feed you, go back to bed but never be able to sleep. As a result of this I was tired all day and very irritable and I’m ashamed to say sometimes used to take this out on your older brother who was only a baby himself at the time. I would Lose my temper over silly things like him spilling a drink, i can only hope, like you, that he won’t remember much about this. I went from being a confident, organised person to not even being able to decide what we needed at the supermarket. The very worst thing of all was the horrible guilt that I used to carry around with me. I loved you so much that it hurt, I felt like my heart world explode with the love I felt for you but yet I could not find any joy in my life. What kind of Mummy was I? How could I have a beautiful, happy baby like you and not be jumping for joy every day? There were times (and these were the very worst) when I wished that I wasn’t here anymore, because at least if I wasn’t here I wouldn’t have to feel they way I did.
The answer I found when I eventually spoke up and got help was that it wasn’t just me, that I was suffering from an illness. The good news was that it was actually very common and there a treatment for this illness. With some medicine from the Doctor and also some counselling (a space for mummy to talk every week) I gradually began to get better.
I can’t remember exactly when but the light started to come back on in my life. Slowly but surely the days with you and your brother were not just monotonous ‘one foot in front of the other’ to make it through. They became fun, I was able to laugh and I was able to enjoy my time with you instead of dreading how I would get through another day.
Now 4 years on those dark grey days feel almost like bad dream. When I was in the middle of them it felt like the fog would never lift and that I would feel that way forever. All I wanted was another Mummy to say ‘I went through this and got better, so can you’. Some people want to forget bad times and pretend that they didn’t happen. But I’m so proud to say that out of those darkest days something good came- Juno. Juno does exactly what I wanted when I was at my most poorly and I couldn’t be prouder. You could say, matthew that if it was not for you there would be no Juno and I hope when you are older you understand just how important that is.
But back to my sentiments from the start, I cannot believe that you are turning 4. You will of course always be my baby boy (even though you tell me regularly that you are not a baby, but a big boy) but for now I will look forward to your paw patrol party with the big cake you have requested and watching you open (even more!) trains. I will always remember that the beginning of our journey was not the easiest, but I hope that there might be another Mummy reading this going through something similar and they realise that it won’t last forever and one day they will get to be as happy that their baby is turning 4.
Love you forever my little man