May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month and reading stories of so many fellow mom bloggers on Instagram, took me back to my initial days of motherhood and how I hated everything about being a mother, except my darling baby of course!
It all started with my birth story –
I was admitted to the hospital 2 days before my elder son was born (17 days before my due date), because of a small scare. All was OK thankfully but I had to stay the night for observation. My water broke around 12am, just as my husband got back home and I settled for the night. I had slight pains and sitting or lying down was very uncomfortable and I could only stand or walk. The nurses in the ward were the least helpful and refused to even check me or help me in any way, and kept telling me “you will be in labour for hours now as this is your first child”! I remember walking in the dark corridor of the ward all by myself for the ENTIRE night till 6am (when they had to rush me to the delivery suite as I was 7cm already – they checked me only when I started yelling, btw). I was exhausted to say the least!
It wasn’t over then –
Post-delivery, the nurses and the lactation consultants kept pushing me to breastfeed my baby, without looking into my medical history of hypothyroidism and PCOS (which delays milk production). As a result of which, my son developed severe jaundice, and a high hemoglobin, due to dehydration. My 5 day old baby was pricked 16 times in a matter of 2 days! I felt nothing but guilt that my baby was going through hell because of me. After a horrifying day spent at the NICU and after finally meeting a wonderful lactation consultant, we got home with renewed excitement and hope.
That was shortlived too –
As per Hindu customs, newborns are named on the 6th day of birth as per an alphabet given by the priest according to the child’s horoscope. In my son’s case, due to some astrological complications, we could not hold his naming ceremony till his 56th day, which meant that we both could not get out of the house for 56 days after birth!
As a result –
I developed anxiety when I was alone in the dark with or without my son (think, middle of the night feeds) and hated being in my room alone. I had multiple breastfeeding issues, which meant I could not feed my baby anywhere and everywhere, let alone in a public place! But I did not give up on feeding him, so I would rarely go out and we pretty much stayed home for the first year of his life. My husband was going through a HUGE change in his life, as well. After all, parenting was new to him too! I am glad for my elder sister and my mum who helped me bounce back. It was only when he started eating solids, started walking and when going out became easier, did I start enjoying my time with him and started being happier.
I learnt from my mistakes –
With my second son, I refused to go down the Post Partum Depression path. I made sure I did everything as per my body and mind. I insisted the nurses take me seriously while I was in labor. I insisted that my son be allowed formula milk in the hospital, if I felt the need – after all, I was the mother! Most importantly, we always had my elder son around, so I did not have much of a chance to be lonely, while I was busy with him.
So many factors can decide how a new mum feels in those initial days – the labour and delivery, breastfeeding ease or struggles, the sleepless nights, fear of doing it all wrong, the loneliness, the hormones and so much more! It is up to friends and family to reach out to them and shower them with some TLC and mainly to LISTEN to them and their struggles. As mums, we have to be there for other mums. Only we can understand that pregnancy and child birth are one of the most difficult times for a woman – physically, mentally and emotionally, and the last thing you need is anyone to judge you.
Once we realise that we do need help, half the battle is won.
Did you suffer from PPD? What helped you come out of it? Share your experience in the comments below.