Kerryn Baird, whose husband Mike Baird is the NSW Premier, has spoken about the intense shame she felt about not being happy after the birth of the couple’s first daughter.
Kerryn Baird admits many tears were shed behind closed doors as she struggled with postnatal depression. She says she suffered alone as her husband threw himself into his work.
Mrs Baird says simple things like doing the dishes, the washing and having friends over seemed like impossible feats, and she did not understand what was wrong.
“It really did feel like a dark cloud had come over my whole life – so things that I used to enjoy, I didn’t enjoy anymore. Things that should have been very easy to do were very, very hard,” she says.
“It’s very heavy. Everything you do, everything you see just almost has a grey, heavy tinge to it. Physically it’s difficult to do things, it’s difficult to get up.”
Mr Baird admits he had his priorities wrong, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
“I was a complete schmuck. I was terrible for a range of reasons,” he says.
“It was just a dreadful response. And my reaction was just to withdraw and I went back to work because it was safe and I understood it and I didn’t know quite what I was going to get when I came home.
“I think because I was so absorbed in myself, that I let her down and I let my daughter down – I don’t think that’s a particularly proud part of my life but hopefully in talking about it I can encourage other men and women in similar positions to take the time to support each other.”
The couple have three children – Laura, 17, Cate, 15 and Luke, 11.
The Bairds shared their experience at a Gidget Foundation lunch to raise awareness about perinatal anxiety and depression. The foundation is a not-for-profit organisation providing support services for families suffering emotional distress during pregnancy and early parenting.
Realising she had an illness helped the new mum: “It was one of the more euphoric days of my life because I’m like, this has a name, this isn’t me, this can be treated and it’s just an illness like anything else,” Mrs Baird says.
Perinatal depression and anxiety affects one in six mothers but can be treated.