It's L day for me today… Launch Day. My book, Love Wisdom Motherhood. is heading out into the wider world. And I keep pinching myself when I think about who is launching it for me — our Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
She is one of the fabulous women that I interviewed for my book. What a treat it was to sit down with this most articulate and elegant woman and talk about babies! The GG passionately believes that if a mother isn't well — then the family isn't well. She clearly remembers a time when it all felt too much:
"The Governor-General is 'evangelical' about the care of new mothers. As a young mum in her mid twenties, she found herself unable to get out of bed. At the time she wondered how she was going to cope with it all, how she would manage her little baby, two toddlers, a house, her husband and a job. These are the questions most mothers grapple with. When Quentin Bryce thinks back to those moments, lying in bed, wearing her pink chenille dressing gown, she realises, 'how easily I could have had what was then [referred to as] a breakdown'."
So if you feel like it's all getting too much — you're not the only one! Even the most powerful woman in the land has had her moments and that is why I wanted to write this book. I want to lift that mask of motherhood so many of us feel we have to wear and have an honest conversation about the joys, challenges and heartache that being a mother entails.
The other woman who have generously shared their motherhood experiences are Lisa McCune, Heidi Middleton, Elizabeth Broderick, Wendy Harmer, Collette Dinnigan, Maggie Tabberer, Tina Arena, Quentin Bryce, Nova Peris, Gail Kelly and Darcey Bussell.
I've had my share of heartache but I was totally unprepared for the seismic shift that having a baby does to your life. The seeds of this book began in the weeks after the birth of my heavenly eldest daughter, Allegra.
I remember going to a Mothers' Group — and it wasn't one of the good ones! I had never felt so alone and isolated — as I looked around the room all these mums seemed to have it together — breastfeeding with ease and looking like they knew what they were doing. Boy, did I feel like the odd one out. I just nodded and didn't dare open my mouth, knowing that if I did I would burst into tears. For me, things weren't getting better. They were getting worse. And no, this wasn't the happiest time of my life. I had post-natal depression. I wasn't ready to admit it yet.
However the nights got longer and sleep continued to evade me despite my exhaustion. I felt more and more like I was losing my mind. It was as if a pane of glass was between myself and the rest of the world. I knew I had to talk to someone.
Talking to my husband was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I felt like such a failure. But the darling man that he is, he took me in his arms and told me everything was going to be alright. And for the first time in a long time, I believed him. The next day I got an appointment with my obstetrician, and she organised for me to see a psychiatrist. Although I had a way to go, I knew things would work out. With the help and care of my family, doctors and medication I started to feel like 'me' again. And I could focus on my darling daughter. I realised that I was not a failure. I just had an illness. It didn't mean I was a bad mother, or that I didn't love my daughter.
Please, if you have an inkling you're struggling, or if you're worried about someone close to you. Speak up. Talk to your GP, midwife, friend, or visit Beyond Blue. One in four of us mums will have post-natal depression. That's a big club and you don't need to feel like you're the only one going through it.
So as I frock up today for the launch, don't be deceived by the fancy dress, high heels and extra eyelashes. The main thought running through my mind — I'm worried about how my daughters will behave in front of the Governor-General and I have my fingers crossed they won't be clinging onto my legs crying, or busting to go to the bathroom when I make my grown up speech!