Thursday, January 29, 2015

Postpartum blues and how I overcame it.

About three months ago, on the auspicious day of Dhanteras, I was blessed with a baby boy. The journey the 9 months of pregnancy was an absolute joy and I was totally excited about this new addition to my life and family.

Little did I know that things would not be as merry as I thought. I was told I would have a normal delivery, but because the baby passed meconium inside the womb, am emergency c-section had to be done. I had done all my research on normal and had hardly any clue what to expect in a surgery, and I had never ever been admitted to the hospital ever before this, in the 25 years of my life. So this came as quite a shock and was the most traumatic event of my life.

By God's grace the baby was born healthy. I did have blood loss during the surgery and hence had low hemoglobin levels and weakness, in addition to the pain & discomfort due to the operation.

Everyone was thrilled at the arrival of the baby. Some because they were now great-grandparents, some because it was a boy (Its India after all), some because he was born on an auspicious day and some simply because they already loved this li'l munchkin. Everyone was elated, except me.
I hated myself from day 1. I just could not get myself to be thrilled and completely filled with joy the way any new mother is supposed to be. I passed fake smiles to everyone; when asked how do I feel I would start counting a list of my discomforts.

I would actually be relieved when the nurse would take the baby away for bathing, changing nappies etc. I thought it was the hospital environment that was causing the blues & things would get better once I was back home. On the 8th day we got discharge and I was home, but instead of getting better things got worse.

It annoyed me that people just asked about the baby & not me. I who could not sleep with the lights on was suddenly afraid of darkness, who enjoyed solitude could not bear being left alone in the room. I saw myself in the mirror and could not recognize myself. My eyes reflected back a hollow emptiness. I knew something was wrong with me.

I searched for the symptoms of postpartum anxiety & depression and seemed to have the worst symptoms. It said that the blues are common & go away on its own after a couple of weeks. If they don't, you might need professional help.

Things got worse. I started having horrid thoughts of my baby getting injured or something happening to him. I even used to day dream and imagine my life before his arrival, how comfortable and great everything was. I feel ashamed and I only know how much I hate and loathe myself for these thoughts that I had no control on and whatever I do could not push out of my mind.

I prayed to God, I tried to divert my mind by keeping myself busy. I talked to my loved ones - mom, dad, husband, relatives. They sympathized with me, told me that a woman's heart gets weak post delivery and it will be okay. In a few days my mom saw that nothing was getting better, she saw me cry and be upset all the time. She asked me if I wanted to visit a doctor (she herself is a depression patient). I wanted to fight it, I definitely did not want to take any kind of pains. Because studying psychology in college and looking at my mom, I know that once you are on pills, it is a lifetime thing. I did not want to be a living zombie. I thought of ending my life too, but then who would care for my baby? Also, the surgery experience had a left a phobia of pain and death in my head. 

Along with all this I got fever, urine infection, nasty cough, sore nipples and stuff. This definitely did not help my mental situation. Overall, I was one damn frustrated lady. And the whole Indian thing of not going out till 40 days kept me from venturing outside too.

 I had a couple of friends and acquaintances who were new mom themselves and were thoroughly enjoying it. I felt so jealous. I read other new mom experiences online. I was surprised, even relieved to see that I am not the only one who had such pathetic thoughts for their child. There were other woman who were suffering just like me and who confessed openly. They also said that it eventually went away. For some it was when their baby smiled or caught their finger, for others it was after many months even years.

For me it was the day I left my baby at home and went out. Two instances actually. The first one was on our anniversary (baby was a little over 1 month old). I had left him with my mom and me and my husband went to a nearby lounge to chill for a bit. I thought I would be happy to be away from him for sometime. For the first 30 minutes it was good. But then I started feeling weird. You may call it withdrawal symptoms. I called my mom to check on him, he was playing all was fine. So we stayed. Then after another 45 minutes my mom called to say he is crying a lot and I should come back. My heart starting beating very fast and we rushed home. I was so glad to see my baby. This, was a first for me. 

The blues went away completely when on another instance I left him for 4 hours when I had to go attend my best friend's wedding. I did not want to take him because it would be way too noisy for his delicate ears. The minute I reached the venue, I could not stop thinking about him all the time I was there. What must he be doing, is he crying, is he searching for his mother, is he sad? I called my mom who was babysitting him again every half hour. Finally, I apologized to my friend and left. 

I hugged my baby the minute I got home. I told him I loved him. I knew that he is a piece of my heart and soul I simply cannot do without. I thanked God for helping me overcome the blues. He's a happy and healthy 3 months now and babbles and coos and smiles and laughs and I just simply cannot get enough of him.

If you've had postpartum troubles too, do share your experience with me, I would love to hear and talk to you. And please do not judge me for what happened, if you did not go through it, you will never understand it.

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