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How Postpartum Depression Changed My Experience of Motherhood
After my first delivery, it took me a year to get out of the “baby blues”. Feelings of sadness and anxiety were so extreme; I found myself weeping at social gatherings. You would be lost in my thoughts and felt emotionally insecure. My inability to calm my crying baby and get her to latch made me feel like I wasn’t fit to be a mother. My daughter was skinny, and I constantly blamed myself for not doing enough. I felt a lot of pressure to exclusively breastfeed her, and I wish someone would have said to me “It’s okay. Struggling to nurse is very common. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mother. It’s also okay to supplement with formula if that’s what your baby needs.” Every instinct in me told me my baby needed top-ups, but everyone scared me by telling me about the negative effects of formula milk.
Never once did I feel I wanted to end my life, but I battled with body image issues, and the struggle to feed my child left me exhausted. Delivery takes a toll on a woman’s body, and soon enough, I stopped feeling beautiful and felt like less of a woman. Thank god for my husband, who was my emotional anchor as he patiently dealt with my sadness and rage.
Looking back, what I wish I did differently was to seek help when I needed it the most. As a friend rightly said, it felt like you weren’t living up to the “good mum” ideal if you took help from your family to handle your baby even for a bit. Seeking help starts with talking to friends and family and trying to get more sleep. Lack of sleep leaves you confused, and soon your depression spirals out of control.
With the birth of my second daughter, I feel like I have been truly healed. Being more prepared this time, I found myself more composed. I now understand the importance of being kind and gentle to myself and not to overwhelm myself intentionally. We are taking care of tiny humans who require all our time and energy. Motherhood isn’t about being perfect. It’s about accepting yourself, your children, and enjoying the everyday moments. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t always as we expected it to be.