It was a few hours later that Charlotte and Alex were leaving the hospital with Amy. Naturally Charlotte was upset she had not got her twins in her arms but seeing Amy in daylight made her proud that she had something precious to show for her pregnancy. Amy was going to be a pretty girl. She already had a little pert nose and a special smile. Amy was perfect and Charlotte would explain to her when Amy was older about the brother she had, there were not going to be any secrets between mother and daughter and Andrew had gone but would never be forgotten.
Charlotte knew motherhood was never going to be easy but already she was fed up of the constant crying of Amy. When she had left the hospital with Amy, Charlotte was looking forward to welcoming her new baby home. Charlotte could cope with the dirty nappies, though Alex had been a dream and took turns to do this chore; she had to admire him for that, even though she knew it was not something he enjoyed doing.
The constantly suckling by Amy was making Charlotte sore and she really could not cope with the constant nurturing that her baby daughter needed. How could something so little demand so much food? Charlotte could just about bear that but it was definitely the crying that was getting her down.
Charlotte was so inexperienced with bringing up a baby that she was not really prepared for the crying side of it and now she was being brought down to reality. If Charlotte picked Amy up and reassured her baby, then things would be quiet for a while but you could guarantee that as soon as she put Amy back down in her cot she cried again. Charlotte was not sure what more she could give her daughter. She had fed her, cuddled her and reassured her as much as she could but nothing seemed to calm Amy down and the effect was starting to pay its’ toll on Charlotte.
Alex saw quite clearly that Charlotte was struggling to cope and he understood how overwhelming it must be to be a new and first time mother but it was the moments quite recently where Charlotte was bursting into tears over the slightest little thing and seemed to lack energy and be feeling tired all the time, and those were something Alex did not like. Alex knew a crying baby was not easy waking up to but somehow he did not feel that Charlotte’s behaviour of late was normal.
Alex thought that Charlotte would bite his head off when he approached her with his concerns but was actually relieved when it went quite well.
Amy for the first time was happily sleeping for quite a while and this was the perfect opportunity for Alex to have a little chat with Charlotte.
“I know Amy has not been easy but I am worried about you. You cry for no reason and always seem to lack energy and be tired all the time. How are you feeling?”
“Alex, I do not know what is wrong with me. You are right I am crying all the time, and then lacking energy and being tired a lot and it is not just having Amy. I think there is more to this. I hate to say this but I recognise the signs from when Holly was pregnant. She was really down until she went to the doctors and was told something, which to be honest I fear”.
Alex was confused for a while but then something clicked in his brain and he realised what Charlotte was suggesting, “oh my sweetie are you suffering from what I think you are? Do you think you may have postnatal depression?”
Charlotte could only nod before the thought made her burst into tears. Alex was powerless to do anything more than comfort her but did make Charlotte promise him that she would get an appointment with her doctor as soon as she could.
It was a few days later but Charlotte was getting ready with Alex to attend an appointment with her doctor and as soon as she started to tell him how she was feeling, the questions were asked, during the past month, have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed and hopeless and whether during the past month, have you often taken little or no pleasure in doing things that would normally make you happy?
Charlotte could only say ‘yes’ to both questions and then the doctor read her notes properly and said “I can see what has brought on the postnatal depression, it is partly grief over the death of your son, Andrew and that is a very difficult thing to cope with at the best of times but you have baby Amy too so I totally get why you are feeling how you do”.
Charlotte and Alex were slightly relieved and Alex asked the questions, Charlotte was thinking.
“Will Charlotte recover from this?”
“Yes she will, as long as she takes our advice. Getting as much rest and relaxation as possible is a start, which I understand is difficult with a newborn. Charlotte should take regular exercise, do not go long periods of time without eating, eat a healthy and balanced diet, avoid alcohol, as this will make you feel worse.
I can see you have a supportive partner so talk to him if you have any worries and also contact a local or national support group if you feel low. Most of all do not try to be super mum, so do not try to overdo new challenges for the first year of Amy’s birth and another most of all do not despair and blame yourself, postnatal depression can happen to anyone so it is not you or baby”.
Charlotte was scared but relieved at the same time, at least she knew now why she felt so awful and she definitely knew that she had a supportive partner in Alex. Alex knew that all he could do was offer his support.
“How long will the postnatal depression last?” asked Alex.
“It depends on how the medication and advice is taken. It could be a few months or at worse a couple of years and it is rare that postnatal depression comes on so rapidly as Charlotte has experienced but mixed in with grief then you have a toxic concoction but the good thing is you have sought help early on in your symptoms so you could easily feel better in two weeks, this put Alex’s mind at ease a little before turning to Charlotte and commenting “we will get you through this”.
Amy had been a good little baby and had slept through the consultation and only stirred when the appointment was nearly over. Unfortunately Amy stirring meant she was hungry but Charlotte could be forgiving of that, since it was the first time in ages that Amy had slept for quite a while.
Charlotte should not be but she was a little embarrassed asking the question she had next but spoke to the doctor anyway.
“I am really sorry but is there somewhere private I can take Amy? She is asking for a feed so is looking for mummy’s breast.
Charlotte was shown to an unused office, which she could use. Alex did not accompany Charlotte, it was her time to bond with Amy so he did not want to interrupt or be in the way.
Amy had eventually fallen back to sleep after her feed so Charlotte returned to the doctors room but there was not much else that could be said so they bid their farewells before Charlotte, Alex and Amy left.
“You were so brave admitting that you had a problem and I really admire that. I do not know if I could cope with how you are feeling and I know you are not up to it yet but I think you should go on a girlie trip with Holly, maybe a spa weekend”.
Charlotte agreed that it was a good idea but then reminded Alex of something which he seemed to have forgotten.
“That is a lovely idea Alex but you know for the moment that I cannot do that. I cannot leave Amy for a weekend with you for the moment, not whilst she is breast-feeding but I will keep it in mind”.
“Maybe we could invite Holly for dinner here, that would cheer you up”.
Charlotte knew that Alex only meant well but he was being too caring to her and in some ways that was just as bad as being neglected.
“I will see how I feel in a few weeks when I get some energy back”, this seemed to content Alex for the moment, as he addressed the subject no more.
Charlotte and Alex arrived home so Charlotte set Amy to bed before she could contemplate trying to relax.
Of course putting Amy to bed was not just that task. Charlotte bathed her, changed her nappy, put on some clean sleeping clothes and sung a little lullaby to Amy. She was then finally asleep so Charlotte crept downstairs because she knew for a while that any slight movement might well wake Amy.
Charlotte was almost relieved to be able to sit on the settee with Alex, whilst she tried to clear her mind. It would have been a time like this, when she was relaxing that she would pour herself a glass of red wine but that was not allowed so Charlotte made do with an Elderflower cordial and relaxed with that. It was nice to be able to snuggle up to Alex. It seemed like a long time she had managed to share a quiet and special moment with Alex and she really liked it.
“I love you Charlotte”, it was such a simple statement but made Charlotte remember how much Alex loved her and how much she loved him. The kiss they shared made Charlotte feel all warm and fuzzy and it had been the first time in ages that she had felt like that and sighed with contentment. She loved the thought of being a mother but missed those days when she was young, free and single. Charlotte was determined that she was going to dismiss any negative thoughts. They would not help how she was feeling and she was so determined to get better because she had never imagined she would ever feel like this.
Charlotte had not replied to Alex but there was something still in his mind that he wanted to ask her and he hoped it was not too soon to bring the subject up again.
“I know you have been through a lot of late but you know that we have been a rock for each other and I know I have asked you this before but things that could not be planned have got in the way. I was wondering if you still wanted to marry me?”
Charlotte giggled “you know I still want to marry you, stupid. You have given me love that I never imagined I would find. You have been and are now my rock, without you I really could not have coped with or got through what I have been through without you by my side and when I said yes the first time I meant it so yes of course I still want to spend the rest of my life with you”. Charlotte finished her speech by kissing Alex on the nose, which made him giggle too.
Alex was so proud of his baby. Charlotte was right that she had been through a lot and maybe a weaker man might have cut his losses and walked away but Alex loved Charlotte so much that he was prepared to go to heaven and back to make his Charlotte eternally happy.
Alex could only cuddle Charlotte in reply so finally rose and got a couple of glasses of wine, champagne would have been better but they did not have that so wine would be just as good.
Alex handed a glass to Charlotte before saying “to us”.
“To us” replied Charlotte happier than ever before. This was definitely another happy moment to remember when she felt low again but Charlotte was determined to be forever happy.