I have to remind myself it is not a relapse.

The school holidays are almost here with us, and for most parents, this poses a challenge as far as parenting is concerned. As a Postpartum Depression (PPD) survivor and work-at-home mom, this presents a unique set of challenges. I have shared my story previously on how I struggled in the early days of motherhood here, how anger held me back from been able to bond with my son in this post as well as starting therapy and the lessons I have taken with me from that.

Recently, I had a moment that scared me and brought to surface fears I have harbored at the back of my mind for a long while. See, here is the thing with PPD (and I want to believe, depression in general): once you are on the road to recovery, there will always be those sneaky thoughts in your head, waiting on you… waiting on your progress.

And when you have a bad day (because the bad days will come), the thoughts become more intense, the voices louder. Asking you, “What makes you think you were out of the red zone?” Loud voices that seek to drown every form of reason, all the while asking “what made you think you made it?” Voices that scream, “it is a relapse! You are inching further away from your recovery, and into the black hole that postpartum depression is.”

Read More: Why I believe four years is the best age thus far

It is often a confusing phase because one minute it is a good day, and you keep reminding yourself, complete with the flexing  emoji: “I got this, I have made steps forward, nothing’s going to pull me down.” Then seemingly out of nowhere, BAM! something happens and it brings you crushing down, all the way to “I can’t do this again. I am a total failure and a wreck to think I got this covered”. These were the very thoughts I had when, in a moment of uncontrolled anger last week, I lashed out at my son. It is hard admitting this, because to a great extent, it is shining a spotlight on one’s failures.

Right after lashing out at him, he ran downstairs, curled into fetal position and slept amid heavy sobs. I was crushed on the inside, because deep down, it brought all those ugly memories from his first years when all I did was run on fumes. I felt like I had let myself, and him down. We were making such good progress, but here we are, again. Then the voices started screaming, “It is a damn relapse!!” I started to wonder whether I had really made it through, whether I had really been ‘cured’, because that’s what those condescending voices wanted me to think.

On such days, I collapse into a heap of hot tears, messy hair and toxic self-talk. Days when I think I cannot deal with motherhood any longer, 5 years on. I have moments when the horror film of depression is on replay…

Read More: Perfect Imperfection

But here’s what I am learning: The postpartum journey is incredibly different for moms across the world. Some moms, after receiving help, are able to work out and resolve their issues quickly. For some however, it takes time to work through the intertwined aspects of their postpartum journey, and that is okay. The most important thing to note is that even after therapy and recovery, the possibility of a relapse is real. Specific triggers make it easy to slide back to the throes of depression, and as such, it is important to know what these triggers are. In many cases, new stressors (new pregnancy, moving homes, changing jobs, a divorce, a terminal illness among others) trigger depressive episodes.

Even in this phase, it is okay to be, and to ask for help.

Image Credits

Postpartum Depression: My Story

Growing up as a little girl, I envisioned the Cinderella wedding, complete with bows, pink and Prince Charming. Then the babies would follow, and it would be blissful, and we would grow old and live happily thereafter. Only, that this is not what unraveled. I remember vividly the moment I found out I was expecting. A flurry of emotions that are hard to capture in words flooded every fiber of my being. I was ecstatic at the thought of bringing a little human into this world. I was scared too of what seemed like (and actually turned out to be) such a gargantuan task. Many days I was anxious of the journey ahead, and for a good reason.

Before conception, I had just started working at my new job and was so excited for the potential it showed. I had a great social life, loved traveling, hanging out with my friends, and was the typical party animal. Life at 22 was great…until I saw the two lines that changed my life forever. “No, I am not ready for this.” “How would the sudden shift change my life’s trajectory?” These thoughts plagued my mind with such relentless zeal. The struggle of whether to walk this journey or change it kept me at the same spot for days on end.

Read More: Night Terrors: Why my son kept waking up at night

I recall, with such clarity, the scary nightmares I’d get around this time. Grotesque bloody mess on my hand, unending baby cries all night and a terrifying aura that enveloped me during these moments in my sleep. I’d wake up in a huff, panting, sweaty and disoriented. Eventually, I opted to keep the baby. A threatened abortion threw me off balance in the 5th month, and in retrospect, was one of the subtle reasons I slowly gravitated towards depression (as I would later come to realize).

Save for that, my pregnancy was fluid for the most part. Towards the end of the third trimester, I lost my job, and with that, went reeling faster into a depressive state. Single parenthood beckoned, jobless and utterly clueless on how to bring a child into this world. Little did I know that financial constraints are one of the risk factors associated with Postpartum Depression (PPD). Early January of 2012, I got a healthy bouncing baby boy through normal delivery. Here’s the thing: I was certain there was going to be pain, just how much I did not know.

The trauma of labor and child delivery would leave in my mind harrowing memories which made it even harder to cope with my new status. The first two weeks were a haze of sleep deprivation, colic, yellow-mustard like diapers and a whole lot of exhaustion. This is not what I had signed up for. Where were all the perfect happiness moms were supposed to experience in the wake of their baby’s arrival? When would I experience the magic charm of motherhood? I despaired. Not only couldn’t I bond with my son, I slowly started growing resentful. I resented my son and motherhood and all of society’s norms and nuances for the same. I didn’t realize it then but I was slowly teetering on the edge of losing myself in motherhood – and along with it, my sanity.

Read More: Every June

The resentment increased three-fold before morphing into anger. This was quite unlike the ‘normal’ anger – it was fiery, it was intense and it was irrational. Anything and everything was cause for such ire. There’s a pile of laundry to be done, food to be cooked, diapers to be changed and satellite TV having issues. All these left me so angry, it scared me. My turning point came one day in my son’s 5th month. Having had an unsettled night, and struggling in the haze of another hopeless morning, I was at my most vulnerable.

The incessant crying did not help much, and the next thing I knew, I had slapped his fragile body. For a few seconds, time stood still as my mind raced to grasp the reality of what I had just done. I was undone, broken, disappointed and angry at myself for not been able to be a good mom. After this particular incident, I started toying with the idea of suicide. In my head, I kept wondering what the point of life was if I could not take care of my son and meet his emotional needs. The worst thing about these intrusive thoughts was, I wanted out, but just did not seem to muster enough strength to do it.

Over the next few days, I sought online to find out why I possibly hated my son and couldn’t bond with him. A whole new world opened up to me, providing relief and more trepidation in equal measure. There was such a thing as Postpartum Depression. Statistics show 1 in 7 moms are at risk of Postpartum depression. Was I the 1 in 7? I ingested this information with gusto, because it empowered me to know I could be better. Some of the symptoms of Postpartum Depression include anger, irritability, intrusive thoughts, appetite changes and insomnia. Reading through this was encouraging, in part because I somewhat had an idea of what I was going through.

At the time, I could not get medical help, largely because I was still jobless. And so I found myself a virtual circle of warrior moms on Postpartum Progress – moms who had been through PPD and conquered it. I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. A couple of friends stood with me during this time, offering a shoulder to lean on those difficult days. I would not be here had my family not supported me. These are the pillars that held me together.

Watch: Interview with Family Media on Postpartum Depression

In July 2015, I took to writing this blog and go public about my struggles with Postpartum Depression as an outlet. This, alongside journaling, proved very therapeutic. One year later, I finally did manage to get therapy that was immensely helpful. Looking back at my journey, and how difficult it was for both of us, I made up my mind to create awareness of Postpartum Depression. Most moms are suffering like I did, in silence, not sure whether their struggles are ‘valid’.

Through my online awareness campaign, I would love to have everyone know that PPD is a mental health disorder like any other, and for which there is help available. That they are not alone in the quest for normalcy as they adjust to the changes, and above all, that they matter. One of the most fulfilling things is having moms reach out for help without feeling stigmatized, and been able to direct them to professionals for medical assistance. I am hopeful for a country where there is less stigma surrounding mental health disorders. We can change this narrative, one post, one tweet, one conversation at a time.

This post first appeared on Standard’s uReport platform here.

Tantrums, and how to deal

As I wrote in my last post which you can read here, there are tons of lessons I continue to pick from my therapy sessions. I am grateful I have been able to pull through the haze that Postpartum Depression is. I realize that the road to recovery is long and winding, and there are many things to learn and many more to unlearn. I did mention that for me, anger and intrusive thoughts were the most intense struggles when I was deep in PPD. I have blogged about this extensively too…and so for that reason, the two entities have been at the forefront of my therapy sessions.

This is the second installment of takeaway lessons from session II when my therapist and I sought to unearth the real issues masked by anger. In the last post, I touched on dealing with my expectations, letting the child be and the anger curve. In today’s post, I will look at 3 more pointers that continue to help me on the road to PPD recovery. Hopefully, this will help another mom as well.

  • Tantrums are a normal part of childhood. Let me write that again for emphasis purposes, and so that you can also read it again: TANTRUMS ARE A NORMAL PART OF CHILDHOOD. The moment you understand that, you are better placed to respond, not react (I am preaching to myself too) By definition, a tantrum refers to a sudden emotional meltdown in kids and is typically associated with whines, tears, screaming, defiance and stubbornness.

Read More: #SnapshotsforSanity

One minute your little one is enjoying cartoon, the next they are screaming their lungs out because the cartoon didn’t do something/cartoon ended/ cartoon slept.. you get the drift. According to this study, at the heart of the tantrums is your child’s inability to express themselves coherently. It is worsened by the fact that the child understands a lot more of what they hear, yet their language is still so limited. Pause and think about how frustrating it is. It is this inability to express their feelings that births tantrums. They are in fact, very very normal. Write it down and post it above your bed if you must. You are not poor at parenting; your little one is just growing as they should.

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Tantrums can be very frustrating

  • The next thing therefore would be, just how do you handle a tantrum?> What do you do in the midst of ear-piercing screams complete with body contortions? Instinctively, the first response would be to join in the scream fest, telling the little child to stop it. It is a very frustrating moment, yet, instead of looking at tantrums as an apocalypse (even though your house may seem like it just happened), you can start to see tantrums as opportune moments for discipline and education.

It is very tempting to storm out of the house to escape a tantrum, but this has the opposite of the intended effect – your child ends up feeling abandoned ( I am guilty as charged of this one. I would lock him up in my bedroom and leave him to his devices – long lessons I tell you). My therapist let me know that the magnitude of the tantrum emotions can actually be scary for a child, hence the need for them to know that you are around.

Read More: Shouting at my son and 4 tips that helped me

Secondly, keep calm and know that your child is growing normally (there should be a meme for this, no?). I realized, deep in PPD that the more I shouted in response to tantrums, the wilder my son became, and so we met at the infamous intersection of emotional meltdown and anger – not a pretty sight, so much so that my mom once asked me, who between the two of us was the child seeing as I was shouting just as much :O.

My therapist advised I needed to learn to approach him in a gentle spirit (hard as it is, it does quell the raging emotional storm to some extent), and embrace him (my eyes almost popped out y’all. Embrace a tantrum-er when I was boiling inside?) While this may not work immediately, it sure does make for a better reaction than yelling.

  • That said, she did mention it was imperative not to yield to unreasonable demands by a screaming child. This is oh-so difficult especially in public spaces (I’m referring to that child who lays prostate in the mall because mom didn’t get skittles :D), but agreeing to their demands teaches him/her that a fit is the way to get things done in future, and who are we really helping in that case?
  • Once the tantrum has subsided, she advised me to take time to talk it out with him, something I almost never used to do! I’d just shut off till the next day (It has been a mighty long road, heh!) Hug and talk to him, acknowledging his frustrations, but making it clear throwing a fit is not the way to express himself.

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  • Lastly, avoid situations that trigger a tantrum. Simply put, tantrums are more likely when your child is a) tired b) sleep-deprived c) hungry. Carry a snack if you are on the go and allow your child to rest before starting your errands (when possible). In addition, know that your child is growing and starting to get a little independent. It helps to give choices from time to time. For instance, “Would you like to watch cartoon first or change your clothes (after school?)” It gives them a sense of control and gives you better feedback.

When all else fails, wine!, be easy on yourself and try it out again tomorrow.

NOTE: I do realize that for moms suffering from Postpartum Depression, tantrums may seem insurmountable. It is easy to feel defeated, suffocated even by what is considered normal child milestones. Do not feel ashamed to ask for help. Take one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time. This too shall pass. There is hope.

What are some of the ways you have dealt with tantrums before? How do you handle the whirlwind emotions that you may feel? Let’s chat in the comment box below.

Just a few reminders:

  1. If you think you suffer from PPD, or know someone who does, do not be afraid to ask for help. PPD is a mental health condition, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Please email me at ppdisland@gmail.com for details or if you need someone to talk to.
  2. I finally decided to take the plunge and do my #littlething as far as reaching out and creating PPD awareness online is concerned. If you are on Twitter, please take a minute and check out @PPDKenya as well as #PPDKenya and if it is not too much to ask, share on your networks. Many thanks.
  3. You may also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

First of many

In my last post, I mentioned on the fact that I had started going for therapy sessions following my Postpartum Depression whose experiences I have shared a lot on here. This is the first of installment of several that I will post, sharing what I have learnt, looking back at the journey that has been as well as charting the way forward.

Before anything, I must express my gratitude for one dear friend of mine who made it possible for me, and hooked me with one of the warmest souls I have ever met, Rhoda. Rhoda is a trained counselor and psychologist with a heart for moms, and this made her a perfect fit. Both my friend and Rhoda are gifts in my life, and for that, I am very grateful.

Read More: To Those I Hurt…

We (my son and I) arrived on the first appointment some 15 minutes before time, because even kids must learn the importance of keeping time. I noted, to my delight, that Rhoda’s office is nestled in a tranquil neighborhood, away from the manic driving and honking that Nairobi matatus (public buses) are best known for. The calm soothes the soul. It is as if the gentle breeze blows away one’s worries from the balcony.

Rhoda made my son and I feel comfortable first as we sunk into her stylish floral sofa, not your typical office I guess, huh? The blinds let in just enough light: not too glaring to illuminate my issues (LOL) and not too dim to wonder where the melaninaire I am is 🙂 Then she introduced herself, her academic background and stated clearly she upholds ethical values for client confidentiality purposes. After the paper work, the session was off to a great start.

Read More: Feeling like a mom

At the onset, it was simply for me to introduce myself, why I thought therapy would work for us, my key relationships – family, my son, my partner (or the lack thereof) and God. My response was jumbled really, most of which I have blogged about on here, especially as regards my relationship with my son and Postpartum Depression.

She listened, careful not to interrupt, but with a keenness that made me comfortable to open up to her as my son ran around. She asked questions that allowed me to express myself better or to clarify something she may have missed. Her affable self was a delight to spend time with. After I was done talking (and honey, I talk and talk and talk…), she gave me a mini-break to collect her thoughts and give me some ‘homework’.

This was the interesting take-home from that session. Some of the factors that did contribute to my Postpartum depression were childhood scars, issues that I had let pile up unknowingly and unattended to up until the birth of my son. Part of the week’s task was to journal on all these things in greater detail and find what insights I would come up with. To say this was mind-blowing would be understating it.

I took a Friday afternoon off, went to one of the open public spaces in Karen and poured everything on paper. I looked back at the little girl I was, the proud moments at school, the dreams I had growing up, the relationships I had, graduating at just 20 and plunging headfirst into motherhood. My paper was tear-stained, but I did not care. It felt like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. The insights gave me a sense of direction; I saw that most of life as it unwraps in adulthood is an undeniable product of childhood.

I look forward to what is in store for me and my little boy on this journey. I have a feeling it is pretty exciting, especially that we get to kick Postpartum Depression in the butt!

 

 

The other day, while shopping for groceries at the market, I overheard two moms converse and it got me thinking (I know they must have been moms because of the nature of conversation). It went something like:

Mom A: So the August holidays are here *insert shrug*

Mom B: Oh, I do not need a reminder. They are coming home for a couple of weeks.

Mom A: They eat so much, and are generally a pain in the house…

Mom B: You can say that again… I can’t wait for the weeks to whizz by so they get back to school…

Mom A: Me too *insert facial expression to complete the statement*

Then the topic changed to something else, but I was stuck at this conversation for many days to come. I asked myself, why is it so easy to want the kids to stay in school as opposed to spending time with them once they are home, which incidentally, is very few months. Consider this: Kids, on average, start Kindergarten at about 3 years. They will be in school till they are 18. During this period, ¾ of the year is spent in school with just 3 months for holiday. For the 15 years the child is in school – from Kindergarten to High school- , they will only be home for 45 months. For a whopping 135 months, they will be away from home.

Read More: Feeling Like A Mom

For those 45 months, we need to remember all the visits to grandma’s, uncles, aunts, school trips, church programs… are not accounted for. The point is, a critical look at the amount of time the kids are actually home reveals so much more. Yet even in this limited time, the general notion is that kids are bothersome, they are a handful, they are annoying, they spike the budget (hello moms with boys!), they interrupt our daily schedules…

That conversation challenged me to take an introspective look and see what my attitude as regards my son’s holiday is. I am not painting a perfect-got-it-all-together front. I know I am guilty as charged in letting these very statements come out of my mouth, and sometimes whispered in the heat of the tantrum. But, this holiday, I want it to be different.

Read More: 3 Reasons I Was An Angry Mom

I want this holiday to be one during which we will learn the essence of each other, and not just for my little to remember the mom who was constantly working her butt off but had no time to play with him….

I want this holiday to be one during which we will bond in new ways; over coloring books, or pancake recipes or mounds of wet mud…

I want this holiday to be one during which we will put into practice what we have picked up during our therapy sessions in the month of August…

I want this to be the last holiday I ever look at through the lenses of ‘what a bothersome period the holidays are going to be’.

It is off to a good start.

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 Adult coloring x child coloring

I once forgot these 2 things raising my then-infant…

Motherhood is synonymous with perfect imperfection, and for good reason. There are many scenarios that paint this picture perfectly well, and I guess the older the kids grow, the more the incidences, many of which you look back at with hilarity. There are two things that stand out when I think of infancy and the simple things that seemed to elude my mommy brain. It is not the kind of stuff that readily comes to mind for new moms, and only after some time does it hit you!

  1. I forgot to wipe in between my son’s toes…eek!

I knowwww, gross! But it actually happened severally until his granny noticed it. I wrote about bath time nostalgia here, and this is certainly one of the things that I muse about, 4 years on. See, for the first two weeks, cucu (grandma) bathed him. And why was that? Because I was too scared he’d slip right through my hands. He was such a tiny baby, and for that period I couldn’t, for the life of me, tell whether his cries were hunger-induced or otherwise.

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So to avoid all this, cucu did the bathing. When I eventually got the hang of it, I would bath him speedy-speedy, dry and dress. On cold days, I’d make sure the heater was on. And so, for some reason, in the process of drying his tiny body, I’d skim through his toes and proceed to dress him warmly. One of those random hot days I was scrutinizing him and noticed he had the whitish stuff in between his toes, eeeeww.

I was shocked, I mean, how could I forget that? Perhaps it was because his feet were so small, and in the quest to dress him quickly, it never crossed my mind to dry his toes. Suffice to say, I never ever forget to do so, to-date. What I find interesting is that my friend, who is a new mom herself, once asked me why her baby’s toes had some whitish stuff. Only then did I realize, this probably happens to new moms a lot more than I thought.

  1. I forgot to buy my son’s nail cutter.

LOL, this looks so mundane, but I remember getting home that Tuesday evening with my bundle of joy, my train of thoughts constantly getting derailed by this new reality. I unpacked my hospital bag and pretty much just sat down to get the hang of breastfeeding. Only then did I notice baby had these peculiarly sharp finger nails which he’d constantly scratch his face with. Now, yall know how delicate baby skin is, so the scratches are not a pretty sight.

Read More: Love is…

I went to his cot where the baby stuff was, searching for a baby nail cutter to no avail. I definitely could not use my regular nail cutter on his nails, so the only solution was to make him wear mittens to prevent him from scratching his face.

This is for my pregnant friends and new moms: Get that tiny baby nail cutter in your shopping list, and do not forget to wipe baby’s feet thoroughly.

PS: I think I am slowly piecing the memories of my son’s infancy with these recent posts. Given that most of the experience was lost in the haze of depression, the slow recollection is so much welcome. And, if I can be honest, I do miss this infancy stage (well, save for the lack of sleep and pooplosions!). Oh well….

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Bath time nostalgia!

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Image source

Recently, I have been having all these fuzzy baby thoughts. (See my recent posts here). Perhaps it is because it seems like all my friends are welcoming their bundles of joy, or maybe the fact that only now, am I enjoying motherhood. See, I am a Postpartum Depression (PPD) survivor, which means this monster took away my most precious moments, leaving me dazed as the fog descended on me heavily. Even then, there were precious moments that I cherished and looked forward to: bath time.

I remember how, on arrival from hospital, I admitted to mommy that I was scared about bath time: what products I would use, how I’d bath him, what I’d do when the temperatures plummeted to single-digit values… and the list went on. First things first, mommy said. Choose the right product – a baby specific product. Secondly, bath time is key for baby’s proper development and third, there is such a thing as half-bathing when it is cold (Anyone else hoping the sun comes out to play soon?!)

Read More: Potty Training routines

Suffice to say, mommy did bath my son those first few weeks. He was so tiny and looked so fragile, I was afraid he’d slip from my hands. When it was cold, my son got a half-bath from his granny. It always amazed me how fast mom was. She’d place the water in a basin and set it ready, all the while singing and playing with him. She’d then undress him in turns. First it was his upper body where she’d start by wiping his eyes then his face.

She’d then proceed to his hair (curly baby hair – someone take me back to those days, now it is all kinks, LOL) using my favorite brand of baby wash, Johnson’s. She’d then finish off by cleaning the diaper area, using some warm water or baby wipes when she was time pressed. I watched her do this seamlessly, and promised myself once I get the hang of it I would make sure I enjoyed it.

It wasn’t long after that when she resumed work and I had to take up bath time all by myself. Part of me always looked forward to bath time, simply because it was calming. Calming for both baby and I. Away from the dreary motions of depression, bath time provided much needed relief from the intrusive thoughts that plagued my mind. For him, it was an opportunity to play in the water. His bath toys always fascinated him and he’d glee, stimulated by the vibrant colors.

Read More: Lost memories

I treasured these moments, because they were always the highlight of the day, smack in the midst of depression. I look back with nostalgia at all the bath time fun, the songs and games. He is grown now, and if there is anything I learned while he was still young, is that you got to make the best of those moments when they are still young and cuddly – and not running around the house butt-naked, trailing tissue paper right behind them! Lay a foundation for proper bonding later on as they cross their milestones.

I cannot overemphasize the need to choose baby products that are gentle on your baby’s skin. Johnson’s baby range of products is gentle and mild for your newborn, so you need not worry about their skin reacting. More importantly, bath time is meant to create new memories that allow baby to develop healthily. I find it amazing that, despite the lost memories thanks to depression, memories of bath time still linger in my mind to-date. Warmth, cuddles, pure love – bath time.

This is what I wish I knew while I was pregnant.

I have done a list on 10 things I would tell my pregnant self, which you can read here, but seemingly, so many of my friends are expecting their bundles of joy. So, I thought, another 10 or so (we will see) will not hurt. This post was birthed by the conversation I had with my pal whose daughter is just 2 months old. She was sharing on some of the shocking things that she experienced while she was expecting, and the least of which is talked about. In retrospect, I realized this was my case too! There were so many things I wished I knew, most of which were never shared. Here goes.

  1. You will be an emotional wreck, a whole lot more than you think.

Whether due to the upsurge of pregnancy hormones, or just the sheer thought of bringing new life to these world, your emotions will be all over the place (Got to love how well Shiko of The Green Calabash puts it in this post). I remember once, crying in a Thika-bound matatu, not the pretty crying. Ugly-sobs-mucus-type of crying. It does get overwhelming sometimes, so grab a box of tissue honey, and rock on.

  1. Things get, ermm… slippery in South Pole.

Pantyliners are your friend. Enough said.

Read More: Baby Shower!

  1. Labor is different for everyone.

This, I think, was one of those topics I steered away from when I was expecting my son. Enough with the horror stories, the grotesque images and everything in between, Granted, child birth is not a high tea party, but then again, moms-to-be need not be pumped with all the crazy happenings. It will help to give insight into what to expect, but in my view, all the horror stories are to be saved for later (probably after delivery). That’s just my 2 cents.

So yes, some will have the ‘she-just-came (and I still had my makeup on)’ narrative, and others, by the time their newborn is put in their hands, will have said unprintables, danced kanungo, gotten rid of every burden in the form of clothing and realized that there’s a level of pain where words and tears do not suffice. All that matters, is to take the journey in stride, however it comes.

  1. It is a whole new season of adjustments with breastfeeding.

Cracked. That Nivea ad doesn’t even do justice to try and imagine what cracked feels like. Now, picture cracked nipples, and a little clueless human being trying to latch. This is HARD. And on many days, you will want to give up, because sore bloody nipples are not anyone’s cup of tea. Good old Vaseline will be your friend, amidst all the shrieks and tears (I dreaded breastfeeding for this very reason on those first days, but it does get better. So, no, there’s nothing wrong with you!)

Read More: The Place of vulnerability

  1. Lochia is a thing.

The glee on my face when I realized I would be off periods for 9 months, could actually be packaged and sold for a pretty penny. But you see, the human body has a way of reminding you who the boss is. And so, immediately after delivery, the nurse tells you that you should expect lochia for the next couple of weeks.

Lochia is the medical term that refers to the vaginal discharge after birth. This discharge contains blood, tissue from the uterine lining and bacteria. Or in other words, it is payback for the 9 months you did not bleed, hah! Some women will experience cramps too, so painkillers will come in handy. And do not forget the maternal maxi pads, you know, the ones that feel like you rolled a gunny bag and placed it in your Mother Unions (which, by now, are like the best things after porridge and sleep) – those ones.

  1. You may have to re-invent your wardrobe

Those strappy tops you had that held your bosom in place and did not move an inch, forget them. Because, guess what, you need clothes that allow you to whip that boob out comfortably, and on LO’s demands. Invest in button-down blouses, zipped tops and anything else that allows easy access to the lactose zone.

Read More: 7 gross things moms do

  1. You may not be able to bond with your child immediately

This, I have to slip in here a second time. Not all moms will have an instant bond with their child, whether due to the trauma of labor, or depression during pregnancy, or sometimes simply the overwhelming experience that this new chapter represents. And that is okay, to a certain extent.

Baby blues are fairly common, and will often die down on their own. In Postpartum Depression however, these blues only intensify. They have a vice-like grip on any mom, and will often wash up like mighty waves on the shore of your heart. If you do experience this, do not be afraid to get medical attention. There is no shame in asking for help. So chin up! (If you would like to read more on Postpartum depression, click here).

  1. They grow

In spite of the challenges at the onset, the kids grow. A proverb in my local language loosely translates to “Kids do not have stones on their heads” – easy to see why. Then we shall miss the infant stages where they are cute, cuddly and composed, before they get to 5 and you feel like you are handling a blender whose settings have been turned on… without the damn lid! And we shall be back to bringing other life to this world.

Is there anything I have missed on the two entries? Drop by in the comments below.

Grace moments in the mundane

One of the things I struggled with when I had Postpartum depression (PPD) was channeling my frustrations at my baby (sometimes subconsciously, other times consciously, thanks to the monster that depression is). It has been, and still is, a work in progress. I am glad for the progress thus far; it is not something I take for granted. The other day, I had an incident that made me smile, think of it as my pick me up.

After a particularly hard day (with work, power blackouts and just the toll working from home has on any mom), I was not having my best of moments. It didn’t help LO was in a super exuberant mood. Exuberant here means active, energetic, and just about everything that resembles blending food without your lid on! And so somewhere in that mishmash of events, I found myself lashing out, initially just venting out loud before it morphed into talking AT him…

Read More: A letter to my son – Chronicles of a PPD survivor

At some point I literally just had to walk away because I felt my frustrations boiling in me past tipping point. LO came around, and for a moment, I pursed my lips thinking, “Oh boy, not now.” Then he did what I least expected. He stretched forth his hands and gave me the warmest bear hug I have had in the last couple of weeks.

In that very moment, every frustration melted away. For a couple of seconds, I was holding on to the fleeting nature of his kind gesture, soaking in the warmth and embracing the gift of grace at the least expected times. These ‘Small’, and I hesitate to use the word small, moments of grace in the midst of mundane days. I carried this with me for the rest of the week, and to-date. I don’t think there’s a better pick me up than the genuine innocence of a child’s kindness. A constant reminder of the far we have come from scary anger.

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Every June…

Every June, I have a silent anniversary of sorts.

This June was no different.

It doesn’t help much the fact that this blurry anniversary coincides with my birthday.

* * *

I have vivid memories of that day back in June 2011. In the months that had passed, I lived in a bubble of sorts; reality still hadn’t dawned on me. How’d I been drinking Famous Grouse & Malibu all along without knowing it. It never crossed my mind, at least not at 22. I had these lofty dreams, my career was on an upward trajectory, and there were all the signs of a well-heeled lifestyle. The realization that life as I knew it was going to change had me floating in a palpable fog.

I’d had nightmares every so often since I saw those two lines—piercing screams in the dead of the night, a bloodied mess on my hands, an obsessive worry-packed train of thought that seemed to amplify my incapability to transcend life’s hurdles, and the very nagging thought that I probably wouldn’t pull through alive. I was scared. With every new day that drew me closer to one of my life’s most changing turning points, I grieved at the life I had left behind yet couldn’t embrace with gusto what lay ahead.

Read More: Triggers…

It was a yo-yo of sorts. I was going to be a mom—totally unprepared, and completely flustered by life as I knew it. As the days whizzed by, I felt like a puppet in life’s hands; going through the motions, pretending to be unfazed, but really squirming on the inside.

* * *

That Wednesday morning began like any other…

This post first appeared on Postpartum Progress. Read the rest of the post here.