Age at interview: 30
Background: Cecilia has a daughter aged 4. She is a single parent and comes from an Italian background. Cecilia lives in a large city in Australia and works in program administration.
Cecilia's relationship with her daughter's father broke down when he left for his home country when their baby was a few weeks old. Following this, Cecilia experienced depression but is unsure if she can label this 'postnatal depression', instead seeing it as 'entwined' with her relationship breakdown. She found it helpful to consult with a psychologist, and find space to reflect on her experiences.
More about Cecilia
Cecilia comes from a large, close family. She was travelling and working overseas when she met the father of her daughter.
When Cecilia became pregnant she decided to move home to Australia to have her baby. Her ex-partner visited once during her pregnancy and again for the birth. Cecilia said her feelings of isolation began when she realised her ex-partner was not 'emotionally present' throughout the pregnancy. She described feeling 'incredibly vulnerable' when doctors were making decisions about the birth and her wellbeing. This was particularly because there were no beds available at the family birthing unit where she was booked to give birth at when she arrived, and she was transferred to a regular labour ward.
Cecilia felt that her 'self-agency and control' were taken from her during her labour and the birth, and was 'angry' that she wasn't de-briefed by the health professionals involved. However, she did appreciate the chance to talk with the family birthing centre midwives afterwards.
Cecilia said her experience of early parenthood was 'very much entwined' with the breakdown of her relationship. Her ex-partner left for his home country when their daughter was two weeks old, and a week later contacted Cecilia to tell her the relationship was over. This came 'out of the blue' for Cecilia and she spent 'months trying to piece the story together'. Eventually she made the difficult discovery that her ex-partner had another child a few months younger than her daughter.
Two attempts at reconciliation followed during which Cecilia and her daughter visited her ex-partner's country. Realising that the relationship was 'really toxic', and her partner had been 'emotionally abusive', Cecilia ended the relationship and returned to Australia with her daughter. As well as a sense of 'betrayal', she described carrying feelings of 'shame' and 'guilt' about what happened.
Due to financial pressure, and need for emotional and practical support, Cecilia and her daughter moved back with her parents. She acknowledged that she needed the 'amazing' support she received from her family, however as a single mother living with her parents, Cecilia said she felt confused about her identity. After some time, she found separate accommodation and a job and decided to assert her 'own authority' as her daughter's mother.
Following her relationship breakdown and becoming a single parent Cecilia experienced a 'devastation' of her sense of confidence and identity, and felt 'paralysed'. She sees the depression she experienced after her daughter's birth within 'a whole life context' including her relationship breakdown, and is unsure whether she can label it 'postnatal depression'. She described feeling 'grief and loss' for the early part of her daughter's life, because she didn't experience a 'happy' pregnancy with a 'loving partner', and doesn't have many memories of her daughter as a newborn due to, she thinks, stress and trauma.
Cecilia found it useful to consult a psychologist and to find 'space' to 'think and reflect' on her experiences. She has a 'sense of peace' about her 'journey' now and feels she has 'learnings' to share with others.