“I went through severe postpartum depression”: inside the life of Paula, single mother of one

Being a single mother can be a real life test. Between childbirth, postpartum depression and loneliness, Paula gives us, with modesty and courage, her powerful testimony about the first two years of her son’s life.

I got pregnant in 2020 and had only been with the father for a month. I offered to invest as he wanted and as much as he wanted, my limit was that I didn’t want us to live together. He said she didn’t want to know and we broke up. I never gave him any more news, as he asked. However, I keep his phone number – with his consent – ​​in case the child wants to contact him one day.

A solitary and confined pregnancy

So I experienced my pregnancy alone, during childbirth. Luckily I had a great roommate, who listened to me a lot and supported me. Then I moved to be closer to my family.

The first months were terrible for me, with the curfew, the confinements, no one could come to visit me or replace me for a few hours. I live in a small village near my father and my brothers and sisters all live within an hour’s drive, but I don’t have a driving license.

I was lucky enough to be put in touch with the healthcare workers at PMI and they were amazing. The pediatrician, and especially the pediatric nurse, were very attentive and I was really able to confide in them. After a few months they recognized that I urgently needed help.

Postpartum depression

They contacted the nursery so that I could have a place urgently. They also made an appointment for me at the maternal and child ward of the Chambéry hospital, where I could be followed once a month by a psychiatrist for sessions with my child. He said it was important for him to be there so that he understood that I am not well, but that I am doing what is necessary to get better.

The follow-up ended when the child was two years old, and last summer I resumed another follow-up, but this time in hypnosis, and it did me a lot of good. I think (well, I know!) that we can’t do it alone, that we need to surround ourselves with a strong team, with resource people, be they family, friends and healthcare workers.

The PMI childcare worker who often offered me appointments concluded the interview by saying: ” If you need to know you’re a good mom, you have my number! »

I put my son in daycare from the age of six months, one day a week. At first he went half a day, then more and more and finally, around the age of one and a half, they had room to wear him every day. He freed me from a great burden! Being alone and unemployed, I paid little: 0.40 euros an hour.

I was lucky enough to have many unemployment rights and was therefore able to remain without working for two and a half years despite having a decent income. I then spent seven months at the RSA before finding a job I really liked.

Return to work

I would not have been able to work in the first two years of my son’s life. I went through severe postpartum depression. How alone I felt! Despite family, friends, my boyfriend – who I met when my son was one year old – I felt completely abandoned. And it still happens to me sometimes, of course.

The greatest pain is knowing that I have no one who can replace me when I no longer have the strength or patience. Luckily, I also have a single mom friend who lives near me and who knows what I’m going through.

He regularly offers to look after my son from time to time, one night during the week, so that I can recharge my batteries. When my boyfriend arrives and has enough energy, he manages to spend the night. My son gets up every night to come to my bed, then he climbs on me, pushes me, etc.

Being a single mother and having to manage everything

Daily life is heavy to carry. As soon as my child has problems or the teacher tells me that he has difficulty doing this or that, my first reaction is to wonder what I did wrong. Since I am his only parent, the problem must come from me. What pressure!

And then, as soon as I have a moment less well, that the morale is not good, my son feels it directly and does not let me go. This doesn’t help matters, because in those moments I need rest, calm and space. Also, I feel guilty for stressing him out. So I explain to him, I tell him that everyone has bad periods, that I do everything I can to feel better, that it’s up to me to take care of myself because I’m the adult…

Since returning to work, I’ve struggled to get back into the groove. He is very clingy as we see each other less – he goes to daycare every night – and I have difficulty managing him on all levels. I have a new job where I want to challenge myself, in a role of responsibility, my son, his school, his friends, his ailments, our diet, home maintenance, shopping, etc. And my father who is getting old and who I have to help with a lot of things…

Find your village and its “resource people”

What weighs on me the most right now is finding solutions for children. So far, a friend takes him two evenings a week: the nursery closes at 6.30pm and I finish at 7pm, plus time to get home.

His best friend’s parents took my son one evening a week, but they asked me to find another solution, because it was too much for them… So I was able to ask to temporarily finish an hour early on Thursday. But it can’t last and I have to review everything and recalculate the costs of the different possibilities.

I get behind everything and everyone, so I have no energy for anything. Hypnosis helps me a lot to refocus on my needs and is a great crutch to find my balance.

Even today, when the holidays come and he will be home with me more often, I get stressed. I know I won’t have patience and that the best quality moments will be when I have time to myself. Not necessarily to rest anyway, but to spend time when I feel good, when I do things that recharge my batteries.

I think being a single mom means having to juggle all the roles and tasks, while having this inner voice that blames us that no one at home can silence. Strength is found in solidarity and we must find resource people who will do us good and lift us up when we need it. And then you have to accept the fact that you can’t be a perfect mother.

Other articles on
After giving birth

  • Halle Bailey reveals she suffers from ‘very severe postpartum depression’

  • What to expect during the famous 3rd day in the maternity ward?

  • Postpartum depression: a drug could reduce the risk, according to a study

  • In this city, prenatal consultations are offered to fathers, a good idea for greater inclusiveness

  • Suicide is now the leading cause of maternal mortality in France, and it is serious

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Source: Madmoizelle

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