Name: Melissa
Age at interview: 39
Gender: Female

Background: Melissa lives in a large city with her husband, a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. She is a business owner and is from an Anglo-Australian background.

About Melissa

Melissa found caring for her second baby exhausting due to his silent reflux, colic and subsequent unsettledness. When she found herself withdrawing and experiencing anger and resentment she saw her GP who diagnosed postnatal depression. Medication (sertraline (ZOLOFT)), a brief hospital stay, counselling, and support from family and friends helped Melissa recover.

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More about Melissa

Melissa and her husband underwent IVF after two years of trying to conceive. Although they were prepared for IVF to take some time, they became pregnant on the first cycle. Melissa's pregnancy was 'fantastic', with 'no morning sickness'. She had an elective caesarean due to her baby's large size.

At home, Melissa's milk didn't 'come in' so she switched to formula. Her daughter was also very unsettled, and Melissa said she and her husband would both be 'up all night' trying to get their baby to sleep. At four weeks, their daughter was diagnosed with silent reflux and prescribed medication.

After the medication took effect, Melissa said they had 'the perfect baby'. Although Melissa said she felt judged at mothers' group for having an elective caesarean and bottle-feeding, she 'loved being a mum' and 'absolutely knew' they would have another child.

Melissa and her husband conceived again on the first cycle of IVF, and Melissa had a second caesarean. Although her milk came in this time, she kept getting blocked ducts and mastitis. A lactation specialist recommended Melissa formula feed, as learning how to breastfeed for the first time while dealing with a toddler would be 'very busy'.

Melissa's son was also diagnosed with silent reflux, but was 'exceptionally colicky' so things did not improve after he started reflux medication. Melissa said the lack of sleep was 'horrendous' as she couldn't sleep during her son's naps because she had to care for her daughter.

Melissa described starting to feel 'robotic', and blaming her son for 'everything'. One night she called the maternal and child health helpline and the nurse suggested she might be experiencing postnatal depression (PND). Melissa hadn't realised her anger and resentment might be signs of depression, but the nurse explained to her that 'feelings you don't normally experience' could indicate PND.

Melissa saw her GP who diagnosed her with postnatal depression, prescribed her sertraline (ZOLOFT) and referred her to a clinical psychologist. Melissa was grateful to have someone to talk to as she was worried about overburdening her already 'very supportive' husband.

When her son was four months, Melissa spent five days in a Mother and Baby Unit where she caught up on sleep and learned baby settling techniques. Her husband also received support. Melissa said she left 'feeling great' and started to 'feel connected' to her son. Things were 'completely different' after this. Her daughter went to childcare for an extra day to alleviate the pressure on Melissa, and she received extra support from her maternal and child health nurse as well as her 'fantastic' family and friends.

Melissa continued to see her psychologist until recently. She has not yet stopped taking medication but thinks she will try when her daughter starts school. Melissa says she is now 'in a really good place.' Her advice to others is 'don't be ashamed to ask for help… because if you don't look after yourself, you can't look after your child.'