Tim and I met in 2005, we were both in college. He just returned from his medical internship in Johannesburg and I was in my senior year of HRM. We met in a club in Utrecht, The Netherlands and it was love at first sight. We fell in love and six years later he proposed to me in Zambia at the amazing Victoria Waterfalls. We decided to get married in South-Africa, our second home. We had a small but lovely wedding in the western cape between the wine fields. We knew we wanted a family from the get-go, but also had a massive bucket list of travel destinations (India, Vietnam, Botswana, Mozambique, Indonesia) and once we checked a lot off from that list, we felt ready. In 2012 we started trying and in 2014 our first daughter, Livia was born.
In 2017 our second daughter, Emmi was born, and she is our last baby.
My birth with Livia was traumatic. After 22 hours of labor and two hours of pushing she came into the world. I was exhausted and wanted to be left alone. I was so overwhelmed by what just happened to me. Then the midwife disappeared, and I had an episiotomy and needed to be stitched up. That happened an hour later, so the adrenaline of the birth was gone, and I felt everything. The entire birth was very traumatic for ma and I did EMDR (trauma therapy) to put it all behind me.
Due to the trauma from my birth with Livia, the birth of my second daughter was a scheduled C-section, which was a revelation to me! I went into the OR and 20 minutes later I had a baby on my chest. I felt so much better than the first time and I could actually enjoy my baby.
Almost six years ago, following the birth of Livia, I was in the middle of my postnatal depression. I was in a sink hole so deep, I didn’t think I would ever recover. I got sucked into my depression more and more and I felt so alone. I wondered: am I the only mom who feels this way after giving birth? The answer turned out to be: NO! After I made the first steps towards recovery I started talking to a therapist. After a couple of sessions, my head cleared up again. I saw that I was not alone in all of this. I learned that many mothers are not on cloud nine after child birth.
I wanted to share that feeling with other mothers. If I felt so lonely and isolated. I thought to myself, there are probably a lot more mothers sitting at home with their brand new baby also feeling like this. I decided to write a blog about my postpartum depression, for these other mums who were also not feeling well after giving birth. So they would feel less alone and find some support. This blog went viral and before I knew it, it was on various Dutch media outlets. I received an incredible amount of responses. To this day, I am deeply grateful that I dared to take this step at the time because I was so frightened to post this blog at the time. This is how it all started. And how the path to my work with mothers with PPD slowly but steadily unfolded.
Now I am a therapist for Moms who are not feeling well after giving birth or go through postpartum depression. I am also an author and published my first book “Toen kreeg ik weer lucht” (Then I could breathe again) in Dutch in the past many months I have been working on finalizing my first English book called “This Is Postpartum” – which launches June 16th, 2020!
It is hardcore managing my work, home, and my family in the midst of a pandemic. After school closures on March 15th, 2020, I suddenly had to homeschool my kids… which is something I never aspired to do and honestly not very good in! I did it and made the best out of it but because our oldest daughter is gifted, none of the homework assignments were challenging her enough and she was quite bored at home!
My husband is a surgeon and works long hours. I try my best to balance work with my kids at home more, the household and a never ending to do list, but it can be very overwhelming at times! It is hard and at the same time incredibly rewarding. My work doesn’t feel like a job at all and I love what I do so I’m very lucky in that respect.
I work when my youngest is asleep and I work a lot at night when they are both asleep as well. On some days it is stressful because you simply don’t know what time they will wake up and if you can get everything done. I am also allowing a lot more things like TV and screen time than I used to, but I can accept that, and I know it will not be like this forever and that makes it doable. The extra quality time with my kids has actually also been very enjoyable for me as well. Yes, they drive me crazy sometimes, but knowing they are here, and I can hug them as much as I want and see how they blossom in life is so valuable for me. I am so proud of my girls and I appreciate the time we have together so much more.
I also appreciate the time when I’m alone more by the way. I consciously take time each day to meditate in between the chaos to keep my sanity – and meditation and practicing mindfulness have been great tools for me the past years since becoming a Mom!
Because my husband is a surgeon and worked crazy hours the last couple of months, I was worried for him and if he would get infected. Luckily, he has so far stayed in the clear and has not been exposed. I try to keep our relationship fun to plan a date night at home once a week. We order our favorite take out and put our phones away. I also try to start and end each day with affection. That really helps.
I have a lot of work to complete during the lockdown in order to finish my upcoming book, “This Is Postpartum”. I was set to travel to New York this June, together with my husband (without kids!) for my US book launch, but unfortunately that trip had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. I am extremely disappointed that I cannot launch my book in person at this time, but the situation has also offered me new (virtual) opportunities to promote my work and reach more Moms online through other outlets like podcasts and interviews with media outlets. If anything, I feel that sharing my story and talking openly about how to fight postnatal stress is even more important now given the difficult situations which the pandemic has presented to parents around the world.
Tilda’s Book, This Is Postpartum, is available for purchase at the following locations: