In an emotional post to Instagram, Zoe Marshall, wife of Kiwi NRL star Benji Marshall, has revealed the heartbreaking struggle she's endured in the first few months of motherhood.
Zoe and Benji welcomed their much longed-for first child, Fox, in March this year. Their rocky road to pregnancy was well-documented, with Zoe suffering from crippling endometriosis.
Zoe confessed that at times she didn't know if their baby dream was ever going to be a reality. In a last-ditch attempt to conceive naturally, she went on a controversial extreme detox regime, and they were overjoyed to find out that they were expecting a child only six weeks after beginning the treatment.
Zoe shared much of her pregnancy journey online. She is extremely open about her ups and downs and has continued to share her life online since the birth of Fox. But her latest post is one of her most revealing yet.
"Beautiful family photo," she captioned the image above. "But also a struggle. Today is RUOK day. I have to be honest. Today I am. In fact the last few weeks I've been feeling good. Finally. The two months prior were brutal. Suffering extreme post natal depletion."
The term post-natal depletion was coined by Dr. Oscar Serrallach. It refers to the extreme toll pregnancy can take on a woman's body. While it is a different to post-natal depression, some of the resulting symptoms can be the same; a constant feeling of tiredness which can impact a mother's emotional wellbeing and lead to feelings of sadness and not being able to cope.
For Zoe "it played out in low immunity, constant flu symptoms, exhaustion, moodiness, sadness and overwhelm."
"I didn't take one day off mumming (how can you?) or working," she wrote. "I don't know if that's good or bad. But I tried to keep it together. I tried to smile through it all."
"I had only time for my baby and work," she continued. "Everything else fell away. Not talking to anyone about it. Only sharing with you guys glimpses of me not coping. Maybe I overshared at times. I can't believe how happy I finally feel. I guess this is the "normal" me. It's just been so long since I've felt like me. Like the cloud has lifted.
"Don't get me wrong, I was happy at work, so happy with my husband and baby but everything felt so so hard. 110 times harder than it should. Was it post natal depression? I don't know. I do know as a woman and mother I put way to much pressure on myself. Women are great at that. Not allowing themselves enough fun, space, time.
"I'm sad at the pressure I've put on myself. Now I can see clearly, It has given me time to re-evaluate my life. Important. The point is, I am OK. Please check in on those around you today and every day if you think it's needed . Ask RUOK? We as a race are very good at hiding when we aren't."
Zoe was flooded with messages of support from her followers, thanking her for sharing her struggle and sharing their own experiences.
"Thank you for sharing," wrote one. "You have plenty of good people around you. I am glad you haven't suffered in silence. That's what I did for years. It stopped on Monday morning and I feel a weight has lifted off my shoulders."
" I commend you for your honesty," wrote another. "The world needs more of it!"
This isn't the first time Zoe has shared her struggles with motherhood. The TV presenter and blogger took to Instagram a month after Fox's birth, seeking advice on what to do after she'd been crying alone for an hour.
Benji had been away playing with his team the Wests Tigers and she was alone with Fox.
"Week 2 and 3 was so hard for me...I hadn't left the house in days," she wrote. "I couldn't catch up with life. Couldn't bare to see visitors. I wasn't myself and wasn't managing. Why didn't parents talk about this phase? I felt so alone. Isolated."
"It's a hard hard time," she continued. "As glorious as having a little miracle is we need to acknowledge the transition into parenthood and how challenging that can be."
And it's that realness that is resonating so much with other mums out there.
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