I’ve come across the term ‘postnatal depression’ also known as ‘postpartum depression’ so many times, and more during my pregnancy than ever. Skimming through various info snippets here and there on all the pregnancy and maternity websites that I found myself glued to on most nights during my third trimester! Never really giving it much thought, being more focused and worried about how I was going to get through labour before anything else. And I know I’m not the only one, I feel like most first time mums end up doing this and I don’t blame us! The idea of pushing a little human out of you has been my biggest fear in life, until I actually went through it! I literally had this idea in my naive little head that getting that little human out will be the most difficult thing, and then actually looking after this little human would be a breeze…
Yeah, try NO Dina.
Don’t get me wrong, Labour is one of the most difficult things you will ever endure, BUT those first few weeks of your baby’s life are one million and one times more difficult than anything you’ll ever imagine. Well, it was for me anyway.
I spent ZERO time thinking and preparing about what life AFTER birth would be like and spent ALL my time reading up on labour tips, focusing on exercise to make sure I don’t put on ‘too’ much baby weight & acting on all the old wives tales you hear to help you with various things during pregnancy. Looking back, I wish someone would have told me to start preparing myself on how to take care of a newborn, maybe taught me a thing or two like changing a nappy! Yep, I didn’t know how to change a nappy and the first time I had to, I almost FREAKED OUT. For some of you reading this you might think that’s kind of pathetic, BUT I’ve never changed a baby’s nappy before, ever.
Let’s face it though there’s probably no REAL preparation for taking care of a newborn, other than to just GET ON WITH IT and let that natural motherly instinct take over, but I wish I had at least psyched myself up for it.
Although I don’t feel like I actually experienced postnatal depression which is a very serious condition, I feel like I was very close to it, baby blues perhaps. It’s difficult to try and explain it but having a baby was such a shock to the system. My system, Sid’s system, even the cats’ system!
I found myself bursting into tears for most parts of the day for what seems like no reason. Every couple of hours or so and it would happen mainly when feeding baby. I ‘d look down at her and just be in shock coming to the realisation that I was responsible for this little human, yet she seemed so tiny and fragile, how would I ever know how to take care of her? Sometimes I’d cry just because Sid would ask me how I was feeling and I’d cry without a doubt every time baby cried. Baby’s first bath I cried because she cried, baby smiled in her sleep I even cried! I don’t know what I was feeling, I just know it wasn’t a happy feeling but not a sad one either. Maybe that’s just what shock feels like, a huge surge of overwhelmingness? It got to a point where Sid was questioning my happiness, why wasn’t I happy, we’ve just had our baby?! To which I’d reassure him that I was happy but the truth is I didn’t know if I was happy, and every time I was asked what was wrong I’d say that I simply didn’t know. Because I didn’t.
The first week to ten days was the most difficult and I began to feel suddenly very lonely, although I had my family over for a few days and I was with Sid after, it was the loneliest I’ve ever felt. I tried as best I could to surpress my feelings and be ‘strong’, worried I’d be judged as not capable, or over possessive, or crazy even but it was so difficult to hold it in. Resulting to a crazy mood swinging lunatic Dina. I soon began to appreciate my mother and all mothers, that’s for sure. I can’t even begin to imagine how any single mothers are able to cope with one child let alone two or more. You women are truely the definition of heroes!
“Sitting hurts, add an ‘h’ after the S in ‘sitting’ and that hurts too!”
Of course the physical pain and effects of labour don’t help your emotional state either. You come home with the little human feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck fifty times over, completely and utterly exhausted and yet you have no time to recover because now, you are a MUM. That still sounds so alien to me. Everyone tells you to sit down and relax while they hold baby for a bit, but you can’t sit, sitting hurts, add an ‘h’ after the S in ‘sitting’ and that hurts too! Although at least the time you get to spend in the loo is a form of ‘escapism’ now. It’s crazy, I never thought I’d end up saying that washing the dishes, house work and feeding the cats has now become ‘me time.’ I guess on the positive side, you’re time management skills are being trained to a T! And then of course there are those inevitable changes your body faces during pregnancy and what you’re left with after. Although my stomach went down pretty quick and my weight is pretty much what I am normally at this time of year, it’s still not the same. You feel, wobbly and your chest area is now as big as your great grannys was at the best of times.
Sometimes I get this weird feeling even now, close to six weeks later. It’s a strange feeling of disgust. Disgust at my body, disgust at the sight of boobs all day everyday because of the feeding situation. And then I get disgusted at random things like the fact I’ve just been sitting in the same spot for hours, nursing and changing, It’s a very strange mood to be in.
“I sleep, I sleep for hours, I sleep until I can sleep no more” Said no mother ever.
You suddenly go from being fully free, (and I mean it, you don’t realise how much freedom and time you have in your previous life) to having this little human as your ultimate priority. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING you do revolves around little human. When you will pee, when to brush your teeth, when to eat, when to get dressed, shower, talk to your friends, wash your hands, mositurise your face, and most importantly, when you will SLEEP.
Aaah sleep, how you are the stranger to me now. My dreams are now a similar description to this:
| Dina in a big bright white room. In the middle of the room is a queen sized bed with crisp clean bright white bedding. Dina looks down to a snuggly view of fluffly winter slippers and lovely checkered jim jams. Dina walks over to queen size bed, there’s a bedside table with a hot cup of chocolate that Dina picks up and sips… aaaah. Dina then gets into queen size bed, pulls the duvet over her, closes her eyes and Dina sleeps.
Dina sleeps. Dina sleeps for hours. Dina sleeps until she can sleep no more. |
I’ve dreamt this dream about ten times since my baby arrived.
Everything you do, even what used to be the tiniest of tasks suddenly become huge tasks, and if done successfuly they become your daily or weekly achievements. It seems impossible that you will ever beable to establish a routine, retain your sanity and never mind trying to get back into work or getting back into shape. Imagine, giving yourself a mental high five JUST because you managed to moisturise your face that day! Then there’s the taking the baby out task, oh gosh it’s so difficult to go out with a baby. I still can’t imagine taking her anywhere that requires a car journey by myself. The whole ‘carseat’ situation frightens me, infants never quite look comfortable in them and so I would freak out if I wasn’t sitting at the back checking on her every minute. And even though I know it’ so important to try and get some ‘me time’ I’m still to go anywhere without my little human yet, I don’t think I even want to right now. Currently in ‘possessive, attached, panicked, my baby-my way and overly worried about everything’ kind of phase.
Visitors, they’re lovely. They want to come and see the little human and congratulate you, celebrate with you. Unfortunately the last thing on a new mums mind is visitors. You can barely brush your teeth let alone try and look half decent to greet people. Then there’s the worry of dealing with other people handling the little human, kissing the little human, sharing all of their wordly germs with your little human, doing things their way especially if the visitor is older and has already had kids, lots of kids. The pressure of having to listen to everyones advice that’s coming of course from a good place but really you don’t want to know. Every mum will do things her way at the end of the day, right?
I’m a lot better now, thank god. I realised what I needed was my family around me, mum especially. Sid’s support is just as important, but sometimes a girl just needs her mum. So I went and stayed in Cardiff for about ten days and it was almost like a crash course into motherhood with the support of my mum, family & the distractions of a noisy household. Distraction for me was perfect, it left me no time to sit and over think things, or feel lonely and sorry for myself. I stayed long enough to want go back home and just ‘get on with it’, being a mum that is.
I think it’s fundamental to have a support network around you, physically but more importantly emotionally. If it’s just you and your partner it’s important to communicate your feelings and it’s so important for your partner to be aware of the ‘baby blues’ even if they don’t ‘get it’. It doesn’t matter, they just need to be there and listen to when you need to sob your heart out over ‘nothing’ and for when you get those crazy overwhelming realisations. Understand that what this new mother is going through is far from ‘silly’ she is not ‘complaining’ and don’t underestimate how dangerous it can be to let her continue in sadness. It’s so easy to become trapped and end up in a downward spiral into this strange, unknown unexplainable darkness
BUT it does get better. When you ‘overthink’ on the positive rather than the shocking changes you’re facing. When you start becoming a nappy changin pro, when you become a burping pro, when you get a little rewarding smile from your little human, when you somehow manage four hours of uninterrupted sleep, when you figure out a comfortable nursing position, when you manage to brush your teeth more than once that day, when your partner tells you you’re superwoman, when you start having fun dressing up your little human, when you cuddle your little human, and when you get random bursting feelings of pure love for your little human, you start to enjoy motherhood. More importantly, you enjoy your little human.
Children are such a huge , huge blessing from God and they really do bring a whole new meaning to the purpose of your life.
And when you do manage to escape those ‘post baby blues’, you will never be able to imagine life without, your little human.
“Lucky is the woman, whose first child is a daughter”
Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)1594