How my Kindle got me through the loneliness of life with a new baby

Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK
Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK 

My first baby was born in 2005, before we all had smartphones and back when paper books still towered on my bedside table.

I remember in those early days of new motherhood, the most pressing question was how I'd endure those endless nights in a darkened room with my baby feeding and nothing to do but look at the shadows cast on the walls by the dim night light near the floor.

I would eye my books longingly, while knowing it was impossible to get a tiny baby to latch and to hold him properly with book in hand, not to mention not having a suitable light source to read by. If I had any hope of getting him back to sleep, a bright light was not on the agenda.

The second time around was different. By that time in 2007, I'd been a Facebook member for three months and felt more connected with the outside world. Plus he was such an easy baby, who fed quickly then slept just as easily.

Fast forward five years to our third baby. By then I had a backlit Kindle and before my third c-section, I loaded it up with books; about ten of them. Little did I know that Kindle would become my lifeline.

I had a rough recovery. I was in more pain, and this baby screamed more and slept far less. I had two other children to feel guilty about.

I had postpartum depression.

While I loved my new baby, I couldn't get out of bed in the mornings. Everything felt impossible, like I was walking through clay.

The nights would loom large and I'd often start crying come 6pm when the pain set in, the darkness fell and I knew what was ahead - being awake most of the night while the house slept.

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Trying to stop the crying before one of my other children woke. Feeling the lowest I'd ever felt and fantasising about just disappearing. I look back on those thoughts now and how I believed that slipping away would be the best thing for everyone. I didn't recognise how low I was and I was one of those people who hid it well from those around me.

One night while looking for a wrap in the nappy bag I came across the forgotten Kindle. I was too tired to read, desperate for sleep, but I knew I had a long feed ahead with my newborn and I was terrified of suffocating him if I fell asleep, so I popped it on the table beside my feeding chair.

I picked it up once I had my son latched properly, its comforting glow not bright enough to make my son alert, and I entered a new universe. Reading became my obsession, my reason for getting through the nights.

I travelled to fanciful and bleak lands through Kurt Vonnegut, read The Great Gatsby for the first time. I found joy in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and fell head over heels in love with the works of Carlos Ruiz Zafón. 

I pounced on the then newly-released Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas and was transported to the time of John F. Kennedy in Stephen King's 11.22.63.

Reading quite literally saved me. I drew parallels between my current suffering and that of the characters in the books. Buoyed by amazing stories, I grew slightly stronger. Strong enough to recognise the state I was in and ask for help.

It was later that year that my favourite book of the last 20 years was published; The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I devoured while feeding my then seven-month-old in the night.

Being immersed in stories and feeling the ups and downs of characters sparked my awareness that something was going terribly wrong with my own mental health.

Books were a huge part of my recovery and with a new baby to care for, the Kindle gave me immediate access to them.

That baby is now five, and I still pick up my Kindle every night and appreciate what it gave me. I consider it a must-have for any primary carer of a new baby.

If you're struggling or want to talk please contact PANDA.