This seems such a morbid topic to talk about on mother’s day I know. But I guess this is as good enough an occasion as any to share mine own brush with this common motherhood illness. Of course these bouts of baby blues did not last long and were never that serious [as what experts usually say] but within those short days I went through them was sheer hell; more so because nobody in my immediate family, including my husband, knew I was going through one every time after I gave birth, and therefore, I never had treatment for them [not that I believed I needed one]. Looking back, I think the cause of those low times was basically economic in nature. When my husband and I got married, he was still unemployed, as he had just graduated. Since I had a difficult first pregnancy [I almost miscarried on the fourth month], I had to quit my job; hence, we were basically dependent on my parents and this did not sit well with me. I suffered continuous anxiety attacks because of this really dismal situation. I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling choked and trapped, and, my heart racing madly, I would toss and turn and lose sleep. But because I really loved my husband and wanted to give him a chance to prove himself, I never made him feel how seriously distressed I was over things. True enough, a few hours after I gave birth to my first-born, the initial happiness I felt was replaced by a gnawing worry: how and where to procure money to sustain her. My mental trouble was compounded by the first of the many problems besetting new parents. After 24 hours of delivery, the baby developed a very high fever so we had to go back to the clinic. As it turned out, the it had been very negligent in not providing the baby post-natal care–she missed antibiotic shots because there was no pediatrician on duty. I did not know that the baby had to be examined right after birth and my obstetrician who owned the clinic never bothered to tell me so. But even before I discovered that the infant was ill, I was already panicking because she was so fussy and would not stop crying. I was so tired and I desperately wanted to sleep. My husband, who did not know anything about being a father yet, was snoring away beside me while I rocked the tiny little girl the whole night through. By morning, I was ready to die from exhaustion. By then I was sick with worry because the baby would not take any nourishment. It was only by undiscovered instinct that it hit me that she was not well. Thankfully, after we went back to the clinic and she was given the shot, she immediately got better and slept more peacefully. The next few days however proved really trying and the strain made me so irritable and high-strung; I started snapping and snarling at everybody in the house. I was cold and distant toward my husband and mentally started blaming him for the situation. There were moments when I felt such hatred towards him. At the back of my mind I knew it was irrational but the control I had over my reason seemed to slip away like sand in my fist. He could not understand what was going on with me and everything dissolved into fights and the emotional strain between us only added to my despondency. But gradually, the baby’s constant need for attention diverted me from my misery and as the days wore into weeks, I started to become settled to motherhood. But four months after I gave birth, I found out I was pregnant again. The discovery shattered my fragile peace and I started going downhill again. I just got back to work and my husband’s job was irregular and low paying. We were renting a house and paying for a nurse to take care of the baby. The stress generated by my demanding job, the baby, and difficult finances all contributed to my emotional roller coaster. And the prospect of having another baby so soon simply robbed me of my peace of mind. I was again depressed and pregnant. A few hours after my second daughter was born, all hell broke loose within me and I was so difficult to live with. I had to put my career on hold again and this time, it was the culprit that pushed me down the dark, airless pit of depression. I was holding on to my sanity by a thread and the love and concern of my parents as well as the devotion of my husband were the balm to my low spirits. And of course, the babies would not give me time to dwell too long on my misery. But miserable I was the whole time. A year later, I gave birth to my third daughter. This time, I was like the devil incarnate. My husband was away at work and could not come home in time for my delivery. My irrational anger was focused solely on this fact and when he did come a day too late, I was beyond reason, clouded by inexplicable rage and faulty judgment. Tired from travel and bewildered by my behavior, I drove him away from the house in the middle of night, threw his clothes out the street and shouted at him never to come back. Then I spent the whole night crying with my newborn. I could not tell who between us cried the loudest.
It has been eight years since I last gave birth. I am now aware [after having read about it] that I was going through post partum depression during those trying period of my initiation to motherhood. How I survived it and hanged on I could not specifically recall. I was lucky I guess that unlike some other mothers out there and despite the lack of treatment, I was able to cope, that the depression never got the better of me. But all the while I was also exerting tremendous yet unconscious effort to maintain a proper perspective. Through sheer willpower, I succeeded. More than that, I had clung tenaciously to the love around me and to the hope living beside the pain and turmoil in my heart.