Patrick blamed himself. Emilie had made him responsible for Charlotte in the event of her death. He had suspicions and reservations about her dating an older man. Caleb had seemed pleasant and respectful, but he abandoned Charlotte as the pregnancy progressed. Patrick watched as his baby sister, a week shy of her eighteenth birthday, gave birth to twin girls. He could not stand by as Charlotte struggled to adjust to motherhood. Holding Daciana for the first time changed everything. Patrick fell in love. He gazed into her large eyes and knew he would do anything for her and Luliana. Imagining himself as a father figure, Patrick doted on the girls, learning what each cry meant. He was a natural; they nuzzled against him, grasped at his beard, whatever they needed. Charlotte managed to praise her brother for all he did; exclaiming how her daughters would boast they had the best uncle.
Patrick wondered if her continued low mood was due to Caleb choosing to remain absent. The father had a brief encounter with the twins. A pained look in his eyes as he pressed cold lips to the warm skins of his daughters, inhaling deep that new baby smell. The feeling in Charlotte ran deeper; motherhood was not coming naturally to her. She knew it would be difficult raising them alone, or as it turns out, with Patrick. She imagined loving them, an instant bond, being what they needed. She stroked the soft fabric surrounding their cribs feeling disconnected from them. When they were inside her, she had these mixed thoughts, excited, filled with hope and love. Then darkness; the pain crept, and Charlotte was ready to evict her offspring from her body. She wanted to punish herself for having such thoughts. This resentment and rejection of her children did not leave when they were born. At the hospital, Charlotte was tense as each offered child cried for her; the unexpressed relief when Vicky stepped in to comfort them.
Charlotte sank into the black recesses of her mind; it flooded with thoughts. Words twisted, caught in her throat, suffocating her. Emilie made it look easy, raising the three of them. Charlotte was failing already. A terrible mother. Doubts that she could be good enough for these innocent girls kept her awake. She tossed, bedclothes heaped in the centre, suppressing the urge to scream. Charlotte clutched her chest, her breathing rapid as she tumbled from the bed. Sweat dripped down her back as she paced the halls, trying to calm herself. The control failed, dizziness overwhelmed her, and Charlotte collapsed on the floor. The sadness weighed her down in a cascade of tears.
Support for anyone struggling with low mood or depression after giving birth is available either via the Doctor or through charities. Included with this post is a link to MIND – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/about-maternal-mental-health-problems/