Thursday, March 06, 2008

Post-partum depression

Now that it's long over, I can talk about it. Statistics show that about forty to seventy percent of women giving birth will suffer from a mild form of postpartum moodiness called "the baby blues". Some women are knowledgeable and understand it; some don't realize.

Around the same time last year when my son was a little over 2 months old, I think I felt my mood swings for the first time. I had no idea why I was feeling so down and low for days on end when everything was going great. My son and I were at my parent's from the day he was born until he turned 4 months old. With a great support system - mom being around all the time, a maid to take care of the newborn's laundry and another lady coming in two times a day to cook for us, everything was just perfect. All I had to do was take care of myself and the baby. We had a lot of people coming in and going on and off since the time LG was born until he was 5 weeks old which was a great help to run usual errands and attending to emergencies like getting tablets
for the baby in the middle of the night.

Then, everyone left and it was just mom and I from the fifth week onwards. There was a vacuum. In retrospect, I think this was the most difficult period from the second month until fourth month when mom took seriously ill and again in the sixth month when I was pretty much on my own. Strangely enough, these periods also coincided with being LG quite difficult - he was a colicky baby during this second and third month which meant incessant crying and non-stop feeding. Sleep deprivation, physical tiredness and the drudgery of doing the same thing day after day had started taking its toll on me. And for the first time when I was up on my feet with no work to do but the monotonous routine of taking care of the baby hit me real hard. Even after I quit my job, I worked from home on a few freelancing assignments until delivery that kept me busy. Now suddenly I found myself low on self esteem, confidence and a general sadness all through the day no matter what I tried to do differently. The initial excitement of the arrival of the baby had gone by now. With just mom and I at
home and no more adult company, it was all too silent. My tempers flared too often at the smallest of things like when the doorbell /phone rang at odd hours or the TV volume was loud enough to wake the baby who I had just put to sleep after trying for 2 hours; this lead to a lot of stress. I just grew tired of trying to feed him endlessly to make him stop the crying; I knew there was sufficient to feed the baby but people around me kept saying all the time there wasn't enough though his weight gain showed otherwise. I wanted to feed him and not switch over to formula so I tried everything from hand pumping, sterilizing and then feeding him until I got hurt because of the repeated feeds. It was overwhelming to hear people say they've reared ids and it's not a never-done-job before to feel so exhausted and pressurized. This further upset me making me feel it was just me who wasn't being a good mother. The Seniol would visit us for a weekend every month. With everything working well, I thought it must be something else and that's when I found out about PPD and started reading. Once I knew it was the hormones, I stopped blaming myself less and started being positive.

Things started getting better as I went out in evenings for a walk with the baby in sling to get some fresh air, took a break and went to visit my grand parents', started learning how to cook new dishes, some soothing music every morning, saw how blessed I was to have mom around all the time and kept reminding myself that this too shall pass. I felt better in a few week's time. There were short spans right through the first nine months when I would feel depressed. I can distinctly remember a day when I told my mom over the phone that the day was so long and tough that I just felt like jumping off the window. But never in these months' since LG was born have I had even one fleeting moment of hurting him ever.

Parenting is just another career with ups and downs. You never score a 10 on 10. My husband often reminds me that it is a 24 hour job which is more demanding than any 9 to 6 job. There are easy periods and then difficult ones. If we can put with a crazy manager so can we with a child who is cranky at times! And we just get better and better as days pass. Experience, they say and I cherish it now.