By Joyce Wachira
Was I A Failure? Tell Me. I was ready for motherhood, with a meticulous personality; everything was in place, so I thought. Three months before delivery, Hospital booked, doctors booked, Nanny trained, house stocked with all supplies needed. I can’t forget to mention the status of the baby room; everything was tiptop. At Seven (7) months gestation, within me, I was a little anxious about the birthing experience, I do not like pain and I would do anything to avoid it. But I told myself, what I hear many people say, “You will forget the birth pain immediately you see your baby”. I believed I would and tried to shelve anxiety. I had suffered high pressures in pregnancy; the doctor had said my blood pressure was playing games and that at two weeks to my due date if the pressure has not normalized I should get an induction.
This already was a disappointment number 1; I had wanted to experience normal labor. Well, I knew the doctor was my best friend when it comes to my health. I came to terms with the idea of a different labor option. The day arrived, May 6th, during a normal ANC checkup the doctor decides I should be admitted, I felt “arrested”, disappointment number 2, that was not in my head plan. Induction, as I had heard others moms share, was not as painful as I thought initially, the nurses kept adding the fluids but nothing was happening, I read a whole 200-page book on day one. On day two, they made an adjustment to another form of inducement and oh-oh my! The pain, the pain, the pain. I wondered, “why should childbirth be this painful, no wonder mothers choose elective caesarean section(CS)?” This is when I resigned to normal birth and asked the doctor if a cesarean section was her next move, she quickly embraced this idea, it seemed she was thinking about it; disappointment number 3. I am sure she was worried about the blood pressure rising. The theater was ready and in no minutes I was asleep.
Five hours later, I was holding my baby and wondered why mothers go through labor, CS was so easy and painless!!. Little did I know painkillers had been pumped in my body. Hours later the CS cut got painful and uncomfortable. By this time I was getting fatigued by everything around me. Each time the nurses brought the baby for feeding, (the hospital by then was not baby friendly) It was such an uphill task, the nurses would take the baby away if they felt I was not ready to breastfeed, I would complain of a tummy pain and CS cut pain. This happened for three to four days. Baby Come Baby Go.. Well, the joy of the baby distracted me from the pain often and as days went by the pain reduced.
On day six (6) I went home with baby. I tried to breastfeed my baby, baby was not cooperating, and baby cried throughout, it felt like baby took all the space in the house. There was no room that was peaceful. Lactation failed, disappointment number 4. Well, formula arrived and babies life improved. My life wasn’t very good, my breast was swollen, I thought I had a breast condition and a visit to the doctor did not give me any indication what was happening. As days went by I started wondering if the baby bottles would be clean enough and thoroughly sterilized by the nanny, remember this nanny I had trained and trusted her level of cleanliness all along. I decreed and ordered the occupants of my house that baby bottle will be cleaned by myself only. A few weeks later, it was baby clothes, no one was to wash or touch them just in case!
Next were guests, most of the time I would tell guest “baby is asleep”, I did not want anyone with a probable infection or dirty hands to touch my baby and baby items. What is interesting is that no one pointed out anything to me about my obsessive behavior; I did not think or feel that I was obsessed anyway. I had never heard about Postpartum Mental health Disordrers.
I got to a point where I changed Nannies three times in a month for very flimsy reasons, it occurred to me that there was something amiss. I shared with my husband and He was very helpful. We both had no knowledge of what was happening then, but I was able to get back to wellness in weeks. I believe just speaking to him about what I felt helped a great deal.
This is now 15 Years later. 15 years ago Lactation and Postpartum Depression education was new, no one even offered it. As we speak, no education is available on postpartum depression. As years passed by and I realized that a majority of mothers suffer PMDs I decided to give myself skills that would support mothers and babies gain health and wellness. Indeed your greatest passion comes from your experiences. As a Lactation Educator, Counsellor and Postpartum Support worker, I try to raise awareness, educate and support mothers undergoing PMDs. It becomes shocking that every day there is a mother going through this but no one understands of knows about, she may also not know about it.
These mothers are isolated and judged. I am always glad to be a listening year and refer them to professional help. My take is, screening should be done very early in pregnancy, and this will help catch those moms who are at risk. Every ANC should have a mental health care worker engaging the mother.