SGivens960Wide_N002_Cprint8x12All my life, I wanted to be a mother. I laughingly tell people I’ve had three fiancés, but only one husband! So, by the time I’d found the man who would eventually be the father of my children, my biological clock was well and truly ticking.

After three long and challenging years of attempting to achieve conception, we sought medical advice and ended up signing up for IVF.

Miracle of miracles – the month we were due to start this process was the month I fell pregnant. Imagine my joy! A great pregnancy, a smooth labour and our beloved son was born.

But all was not well. At two weeks, he had surgery, and then failed to thrive. My mother came from interstate to help, but she became ill and ended up in hospital. Our son took a long time to learn how to sleep, and with all these stressful things going on, I was exhausted.

When diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, though I didn’t really think this was true, I did agree to be admitted to a Mother and Baby Unit that specialised in helping women with PND. On admission, we were told the average stay was four weeks – and I was there four months. As it turned out, my case was severe and the road to recovery was long.

Despite being reassured that ‘all women recover from PND’, I was convinced I was going to make medical history! I truly thought I would never return to the ‘me’ I used to know.

I spent my first Mothers’ Day in the Clinic and could see no joy in anything, including my lovely boy, day in and day out. I told my husband to divorce me – and even suggested he take our son and have a happy life without me. I dreaded each sleepless night, and felt even more anxious each morning, worried about how on earth I’d ever get through the next twelve to sixteen hours. There was nothing that interested me – I truly felt my life should end so that people who loved me could get on with theirs.

Clearly, my life didn’t end and I did recover. More than two decades later, I’m still married to the same man, and our son has grown into a kind, clever, funny and lovely young man.

I learned that patience with myself and whatever unpleasant situation I might be in is paramount. Tenacity is critical. And when I didn’t feel these things myself, I needed to lean on those around me and draw on their strength.

Most importantly, I learned that to be the best mother to my son, the best wife for my husband … in fact, to be the best friend, daughter, businesswoman … the most important thing for me to do was to be kind to myself. I learned to value myself as much as I valued my loved ones. I needed to make me a priority, to take time for caring for myself.

I learned that none of this is ‘selfish’ – it’s simply the only way to be the best version of me for those around me.

Sandi, Australia