Age at interview: 43
Background: Georgia has two daughters aged 7 and 5 with her husband. She lives in a large city. She is a designer and comes from an Italian-Australian background.
Georgia and her husband wanted to have children, but never imagined early parenthood would be as difficult as it was. Their first child was born via emergency caesarean and breastfeeding was difficult with both daughters who were hospitalised for bronchiolitis or asthma as babies. At 35, when her second daughter was three months old, Georgia was diagnosed with postnatal depression and began seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants (sertraline (ZOLOFT)).
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More about Georgia
Georgia became pregnant with her first child in her mid-30s, following several miscarriages. Although this was 'fantastic news', Georgia said she thought being career-focused might make her adjustment to parenthood difficult.
In late pregnancy, Georgia had signs of pre-eclampsia and had to rest. Her daughter's early arrival at 38 weeks was the first plan that went 'out the window'. Then during a long labour, Georgia's daughter became stuck and Georgia had an emergency caesarean, which had been her 'greatest fear'.
Georgia wanted to breastfeed until she returned to work, but stopped at six months. Nerve damage in her daughter's cheek from the forceps meant Georgia had to express and bottle-feed which was exhausting. Her daughter's hospitalisation with gastroenteritis at six weeks further disrupted feeding.
During this period, Georgia said she was uncomfortable being alone with her baby. She wondered whether her experiences were normal or whether she had 'postnatal', but no-one picked this up. Filling out the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Georgia said she was 'borderline.' However, she 'didn't want to go there' so told herself she was 'finding things easier.'
At eight months, Georgia's daughter was hospitalised for bronchiolitis. Their lives revolved around the hospital before their baby was diagnosed with severe asthma. This period was additionally stressful as Georgia was trying to return to work. When her daughter turned one, her asthma medication started to work and they resumed a somewhat 'normal' life.
Georgia and her husband decided to have another baby, this time by elective caesarean. When their second daughter was five weeks old she was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) because of breathing difficulties. She recovered but was also diagnosed with severe asthma. This experience was frightening, exhausting and emotionally draining.
Determined to breastfeed, Georgia found herself back in the exhausting cycle of expressing and feeding. When she did the EPDS, her score was 'borderline' again. When Georgia's second daughter was three months, a friend became concerned and suggested she 'see someone'. Georgia agreed as said she was withdrawing from friends and family and felt no connection to her baby.
Georgia's GP diagnosed her with postnatal depression (PND) and offered antidepressant medication. Instead, Georgia wanted counselling. The first psychologist she saw didn't feel 'quite right', so she went to another one who she described as 'brilliant'. Georgia took this psychologist's advice to go on medication. She tried two antidepressants before finding one that worked for her. The third antidepressant Georgia tried made a 'huge difference' and gradually she started to feel better.
Georgia thinks her PND resulted from 'her personality', her first child's difficult birth, breastfeeding difficulties, and her children's health problems. Georgia is now aware of the 'warning signs' of PND, and strategies she needs to follow to help herself. This includes time for herself and putting less pressure on herself. When she talks to other career-driven pregnant women, she tries to gently forewarn them that parenthood is very different from work - less like 'labelled boxes' and more like a 'rollercoaster.'