Age at interview: 39
Background: Kate and her husband have a son aged 6 and daughter aged 2. They live in a large city. Kate works part-time and is from an Anglo-Australian background.
Kate has a family history of depression and experienced depression in her 20s. Kate was concerned that depression 'might return' when she started her family but it didn't. She described motherhood as challenging but found exercise helpful, as well as her husband's support, participation in mothers' group, and her supportive GP.
More about Kate
Kate experienced a period of depression in her 20s. She was treated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and antidepressants. Kate met her husband in her late 20s. As he was older, they decided to start a family earlier than Kate would have liked. She said she was 'conscious' she might become depressed after having children, but felt supported by her husband and GP who were aware of her history.
Kate said that she 'loved' being pregnant although she was 'bad-tempered'. To remain fit and prepare for the birth, she swam and did prenatal yoga. She said her son's birth was 'fantastic' and she felt like a 'she-woman' afterwards. At the same time, she felt 'terrified' because her baby seemed 'extremely vulnerable'.
Kate's son was unsettled as a baby and it took him many years to sleep through the night. Kate and her husband decided that as her husband was the wage-earner, it was important that he slept. Although her husband was supportive, Kate still found dealing with her son's wakefulness stressful.
Kate said she tried to be a 'perfect mum', but missed her old life, especially work. Adjusting to being a stay-at-home parent was challenging as she found it 'quite boring'. She said she was lucky to have a supportive mothers' group. However, when her son was 3, Kate was still struggling with these feelings. She sought help from her GP who had treated her for depression previously. He let her 'talk and cry' and told her she wasn't depressed but suggested counselling and making time for herself.
At the time, Kate said she would have 'happily taken' antidepressants. Later she realised she wasn't depressed, but rather adjusting to the 'shock of having children'. She also saw a naturopath and swam regularly to give herself some 'headspace', which she found helpful. She felt it was important to go back to work, but balancing work and home life was also challenging.
It took longer for Kate to become pregnant the second time and she suffered several miscarriages. At 38 weeks, while attending a high school reunion interstate, Kate's waters broke. Her labour had to be induced and was 'horrible'. Her husband and son had to travel to be with her. This was disruptive and Kate said her family were 'cross' with her.
On returning home, Kate's daughter was diagnosed with viral meningitis and treated in hospital. Kate wondered if her daughter had contracted her illness in the 'under-resourced' country hospital she was born in. Emotionally this was a very challenging time for Kate. Balancing the needs of a four-year-old and a baby presented additional challenges and, like her son, Kate's daughter didn't sleep well.
Having two children has taught Kate that challenges and difficult feelings will pass. She feels that she and her husband are re-discovering one another as their children grow older. Kate's advice to others is to 'use your instinct' and remember that as you 'help your children through the world, they're helping you through as well'.