Post-partum depression – I had never heard of it until I came across the term in the book What To Expect. I read the accounts of some women in online fora. It sounded very alien because being an optimist, I had never really known what depression felt like. And bang comes this when my boy was born. My first disappointment was that he had no semblance of me. Next, there were lactation issues. My milk wasn’t coming in and I can’t explain why but I was against giving formula. So I held out against the nursing staff. The doctor told me it was going to get better in a couple of days but my son lost 770 grams in one week which was a lot. He would cry round the clock. Everyone around me said that I was not feeding him well and he was wailing in hunger. But I refused to buy the argument while deep down .I knew there was some truth in it. When I could no longer ignore the symptoms I started him on formula, very very reluctantly. No one understood what I went through in that first week.
I was the mother, I had borne him amidst many trying circumstances, I had chosen to keep him, I had invested so much love and care already but here he was refusing to suckle, letting me down in front of everyone. That’s what I felt. I felt let down. I felt it was unfair that while I was a mother who would do anything for the child’s welfare like every mother, I was incapacitated from performing the prime duty of my existence. I hoped I would be blessed soon, that I just had to persevere and not give up.
In two weeks time, my supply kicked in and things got visibly better. But he was still only 2 weeks old and getting shut at home constantly feeding or cleaning up potty was nerve-wracking. Until the last day of delivery, I would be out with my husband till 12 or 1 in the night. But here I was locked in a room feeling miserable and horrid all day. None of my clothes fit me, so .I make did with my husband’s shirts and some skirts. I was looking so shabby and unkempt. There was often no time to bathe or do my hair. My hair was unkempt for days on end while just two weeks previously I was this woman who cannot sleep without scribbling my legs clean and moisturizing them. Being locked up in a room in make shift clothes that would enable me to feed at a moments notice, with a wailing baby who refused to be pacified and flummoxed me with his obstinacy was Depression for me. The only bit of reading I did was the updates on the mothering forum. Forcibly kept away from my books and newspaper was Depression. Not going out is Depression. Not having a good night’s sleep is Depression. Not watching a movie is Depression. Not doing any of the things like and doing everything I abhor is Depression. Adding to this was the highly annoying unsolicited advice from all corners. I felt better about the whole thing only when my cousin told me of her own similar experience. The Motherlove pills she sent me from the US is simply the best thing that happened to me!
Living with my husband was thousand times better than with my mom. She worked so hard for me but she didn’t understand. She was taken aback when I said I was depressed. She vehemently rejected any such possibility saying that one can’t be anything but happy on the arrival of a child. But my husband understood and being what he is, he made every effort to make me smile and laugh. We tried to do “fun” things when the baby was sleeping in his cradle and now I loved my initiation into motherhood.
Post Partum Depression could very well be a new age syndrome since it’s only in the last 20-30 years that women have a life of their own beyond the confines of home. We travel, we read, we write, we go to the movies, go out with friends and do a whole lot of other things that complete our existence. We feel empty and imprisoned if not given the time and space to open our wings. Being cooped up is not for us. But that doesn’t mean one has to take the other extreme of no marriage, no motherhood and no home making. Either ways feels incomplete. There is a reason why our anatomy and biology is in one particular way. We should appreciate that while also taking care of the soul of our being.