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.

Takeaway Lessons from Session II

In the second installment of this series of posts (Read the first one here)reflecting my experience during my therapy sessions, I share some of the key pointers my therapist shared with me, and how they are interspersed with my postpartum depression journey. During the second session, my therapist opted to help me deal with my anger, especially towards my son as this was the most prevalent symptoms of my PPD journey. I have written more about this here and here. The second reason for this was so that as the sessions went by, I’d be able to track my progress and journal the same for posterity sake.

Over the many days I struggled with anger, I had started to notice a pattern which I aptly called the ‘anger curve’ – a term I coined because that is what it felt like. The curve typically had 4 key sections: ‘warning signs’, momentum, peak and the dip. The part of the curve that I called the ‘warning signs’ was just that: the cloud before the storm. For Jay, it was typically jumping up and down like a Maasai moran, rolling on the ground and often a cascade of shrill screams. He also had this upward quirk of his mouth that just made me know, and anticipate an emotional storm in every sense of the word.

Read More: Angst

The curve gained momentum because the intensity of all the warning signs aforementioned just escalated. These included sharper screams, vigorous rolling and faster jumps. Occasionally, there were spits (Yes I know, spit-in-my-face and for a moment, I’d often reconsider whose child this was) and punches. At the peak of the curve was that moment when all these theatrics simply melted into a raging unstoppable toddler, and a mom for whom the inability to calm her son simply created the perfect setting for a meltdown. At the end of the curve was a remorseful and apologetic toddler, all spent, exhausted and weepy. At the end of the same curve was a guilt-filled teary mom.

My therapist listened to me keenly, and when I was done offered a number of pointers that’d help me deal with the anger towards my son, then have us look at the source of the intense anger in the next session.

  • The first thing she said was that it was important to realize that while childhood memories as far back as 5 months (when my anger episodes were far more frequent, irrational and uncontrolled) may not be stored on a child’s brain, now I had the chance to create fresh memories. Simply put, kids, for the most part, do not remember details of their past up until about 3 years, after which, their brain starts to retain events.
  • Secondly, as pertains the ‘anger curve’, she mentioned the fact that I needed to find a slot where I could step in and halt the progress. Ideally, it is best to do this at the onset, what I called the ‘warning signs’. When all the jumping and rolling sets in, she advised me to take him to a place where he’d be able to do that without injuring himself in a bid to create a lag within the curve. This also serves to distract him from the issue at hand.

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It also provides me with a chance to breathe in, count to 10 and let some of the tension dissipate. Getting this breather prevents irrational reaction, and allows a moment of clarity for a better response.

Read More: What is Postpartum Depression?

  • Sometimes, stepping in works; it should. But it does not always work, which is why she advised me to try as much as I could to set ground rules when he was calm and exuberant. This also helps him view the rules as something positive, and not always mentioned when things went downhill.
  • The third thing which she said, and which hit me like a ton of bricks, was the fact that I needed to manage my expectations. “You expect a 4 year toddler to behave like you, that is the problem Samoina.” Whew, I looked back on all the meltdowns I could recall vividly and saw her point. I expected non-messy potty training sessions. I expected him to sit through social functions and stay clean (hellooo, he is an energetic boy- expect cuts, bruises, climbs and torn jeans!) And what this did is that it simply created a viable environment for a proper tantrum. Let your child be a child within reasonable boundaries, she said. ** This I had to write in my journal, profoundly deep**

In the next post, I will share the other three pointers that have helped me thus far in dealing with my anger towards my child during and after PPD, as well as document the help I continue to get from the therapy sessions. If anyone is interested, I attend psychotherapy sessions at Royal Fountain Counseling Services.

Just a few more things:

  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 J
  3. You may also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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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.

Read More: Wait Your Turn

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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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.

Feeling like a mom

This seems like an odd title seeing as my son is going on to 5 years in a few short months, but it really is what was, still is going through my head. Really, I feel like a mom. Why, you ask? I’d say that Postpartum Depression (PPD) stole some of my life’s most precious moments with my son. For the longest time, I detested the whole motherhood experience, disliked the fact that I had a little human being looking up to me, and just didn’t feel normal, where ‘normal’ is what new moms are expected to feel…

Then, I wondered how to make the most of those lonely nights, up in the wee hours of the morning, sobbing into my pillow because I did not know what to do…

Now, I embrace the moments, whether they mean nursing after a toddler with flu, or getting wet sloppy morning kisses before dropping in at school.

Then, I asked myself if the dark fog hanging above my head would ever clear, and if it would, whether I would ever get those moments back again, if ever…

Now, I know I will never get those moments back again, the missed memories (which often feel like a few pixels snipped off a photo unexpectedly), the milestones I seemed to have glided right through unconsciously. But, this one thing I know: now is all I have, and I am going to make now count. I will make new memories, I am making the moments count.

Then, I never understood how someone could possibly embrace motherhood so well, blinded by depression and all the self-intrusive thoughts, I smiled for photos, but I was hollow inside.

Now, I know too well that imperfection is part of motherhood. I understand that what you see is not always what you get for moms; they could well be struggling with it all (This is why I make sure to check up on all my friends who are new moms)

Then, I couldn’t have imagined why I had to go through depression, and especially feeling alone, why it had to be at a time when my career was taking an upward trajectory, and whether I was even ready…

Now, I want to make my voice heard, to speak for moms with PPD, some of who may never understand the different motions they may be going through. Now, I see purpose in it, I see beauty for ashes.

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My favorite humans 🙂 <3

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Been a working mom, and the struggle to balance it all

I have been crazy busy in the past few days, and been off the blog in moments like these made me feel nostalgic about the 30 day writing challenge I had a while back. There’s something about such a challenge that keeps you on toes, always racking your brain about resourceful, insightful, and hopefully, inspiring content. I am hoping to replicate the challenge with a new twist sometime soon.

In the past few weeks, the workload on my end has been, erm, quite the workload. I am a WAHM. I live online when I am not sipping tea or playing with Jayden, and that’s where I work. Typically, I am required to churn 5000 words in a day scrap that, in about 9 hours (from about 9AM to 6PM) with breaks to snack and, you guessed it, take tea. Once I get home, that is time for my son and I, to have dinner, for me to bath him and find out how his day was at school (the other day he said to me that he wonders why lunch portions at school are small sized, I smiled to myself because I knew this appetite thang had a lineage hehehe), read him bedtime stories and end the day with Bible lessons just before he slept.

Always striving to get that good balance I penned about here, possible, but very elusive, and you have to be intentional about it. Then it struck me like a thunderbolt – it is easy to quantify work output versus the hours put in, i.e, I am required to write 5000 words on average, that is a set, definitive number. But how do you quantify work put in in motherhood? How do you ascertain that you are doing enough for your child? Spending enough time with them? Playing enough with them? Bonding enough with them? How do you define these parameters in the first place?

My son turns is two months shy of turning four, and is there is something I have learnt, even though my journey was peppered with Postpartum Depression (PPD). You can never quite quantify these parameters. Spending time with my son, sometimes the best I can do, especially when he has had a really bad meltdown (like the day a shoe flew in this post ), is hold him as he breaks into sobs. OR soothe him so he is able to have a good night’s sleep. How do you quantify these seemingly mundane but crucial moments?

Or when, after a long day and exhaustion has kicked in, all i can do is listen to him sing his favorite nursery school rhymes? What of days when a cold means sniffles and sneezes, and the best we can do is create LEGO blocks to wind down the evening? Do these moments count, despite their ‘slowness’? Are they definitive in motherhood when you can’t put a figure to their value?

I am learning that defining these moments is difficult. Putting an affixed value to them is tricky, because sometimes, the essence of a given moment is lying awake listening to him breathe, gently, against the refreshing sounds of worship music. Sometimes it is the humble admittance that I made a mistake, and tell my son I am sorry. Sometimes, it is in huddling under our favorite Maasai blanket to watch toons at 7:30PM. Many days it is sharing the same cup of tea because Jayden is also latching onto the tea addiction (smiles 🙂 )

These ‘small’ moments build up to something bigger – a closer bond, a deeper mother-child friendship, memories to look back at, moments to savor when he finally ‘flies out of the nest’ (Gosh, this looks so far-fetched). It may not be easy to quantify the value of these moments like it is to put a tag to my 9 hours and number of words, but deep down, I am learning that these moments do matter. <3

Featured Image Photo Credits: Text100

Letter to my son – Chronicles of a PPD survivor

Dear Son,

I write this letter to you from a reflective point of view, from the eyes of a mom who has suffered Postpartum Depression (PPD) and is on the road to healing. See, I did not look at my options before you were born, and chose to walk down the lane written ‘depression’. No. I found myself there. I should have seen where the cascade of events was leading me, to a dark hole where I couldn’t pull myself together and haul myself out of it. I should have known that some moms get depressed once their babies are born, but I didn’t. I learnt much later, after I had plunged head first into the gripping darkness that PPD is. But this letter is not about recovery per se. It is a letter of apology.

I am sorry that you had to be the prototype of my take at motherhood, an experience that has been fraught with challenges and chides (mostly from folk who have no idea what PPD is), with tears and torn hearts, with smiles here and there, and a couple of photos to capture your milestones. I am sorry that nothing could have prepared me for the struggle with PPD. I am sorry for my inability to comfort you as you cried your lungs out in the dead of the night on your first week of life; many times I cried with you out of utter frustration.

I am sorry for thinking that, at one point, suicide would offer some reprieve, a break of sorts from all this mental torture. I am sorry for thinking that maybe life would have been better for you if I wasn’t your mom, because now I see beauty for ashes. Now I see the blessing that you brought into my life; you saved me from wasting myself away in debauchery, from sinking in life’s pits in my inebriated state, you saved me from me. I apologize for regretting having you, however you came, because you are already here. You were never a bad child; I just couldn’t cope with the depression, on those days I slapped you, on those days I kicked you for peeing on the floor even when you weren’t potty trained. For those days your tantrums had me lost in fits of anger, and I hurled a shoe at you, for those mornings I walked away to prevent myself from doing something I’d regret.

I am not making excuses for letting some of the most precious moments of our lives slip through my hands, glistened by my tears. No, I am simply apologizing for having taken you through all this, for having subjected you to all the beatings, for the unrelenting anger that PPD caused to morph into a daily experience. For the lost moments, the experiences I will never be able to relive with you my dear son.

But. But now, I am picking up the pieces on the journey to recovery. It is a slow winding road, but a journey I have taken baby steps in. I am learning to unlearn what PPD had made the norm, simply because I cannot undo that which PPD supplanted for the quintessential mom-child bonding experience. I am learning to tell you ‘I am sorry’ when I lose it, when I go overboard in addressing your fits and tantrums. I am not the perfect mom, but I will seek grace in my imperfection. Seek grace to be able to draw the line between love and discipline. To draw the line between when I need to hug you and when I need to walk away and let you calm down first so we can have a platform to reconcile.

Some days I forget to ask for grace, some days I pray for grace and still lose it, then feel guilty about it; realizing I let you down, again. I let myself down, again. The journey to recovery is not as easy as I thought it would be, but it matters that I have taken a few steps. I am sorry my son, I really am.

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Photo credits: Patricia Esteve

Love,

Mom.

Featured Image Photo Credits: Glued To My Crafts

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Silence

Before I indulge you in my thoughts on silence, let me admit that I am still reeling from the excitement of my 30 day challenge which started here, and culminated here. It was not so much to create hype, like it was to reach out to moms, to meet them in their fleeting thoughts of inadequacy, and throw in a little dry humour. This was a gentle reminder that anything I put my mind to, is in fact achievable, possible, do-able. I will revel in the lessons therein for many days to come.

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My son is a ball of kinetic energy (no asking where that came from), and has an amazing appetite to match his gusto for life. I never had any idea how this would impact my parenting, but I am learning, and re-learning. Oh how my frayed mind sometimes wishes there was a manual, a PDF guide, a downloadable torrent… the slightest inkling to this thing called motherhood and bringing up boys. Since my son was born, I have taken time to appreciate the value of self care and spending time alone, in silence.

This sounds selfish, certainly, but looking back, sometimes it gets a little overbearing when you have a tiny mammal coiling up around your dusty legs when all you want to do is hang those legs and sip some wine. You learn to appreciate your own time, especially when you are a SAHM/WAHM (Stay/Work At Home Mom) and have your pals asking you what in the world you do all day, and why you cannot afford to steal some time for yourself.

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LOL, feels Legit. Any SAHMs relate? Meme Generator

I am learning to look for those silent and small moments scattered through out the day when my lil’ man decides to pop champagne open and click Begin on his Tantrums series. After my morning devotion, these moments are my next favorite in the quest for the Double S – Silence and Sanity. When I cannot catch these moments, I find myself experiencing a severe bout of verbal diarrhea, I cannot concentrate on simple tasks, and I almost always retreat to my cocoon and shut the world out.

These moments of silence are as varied as they are ephemeral. They can be anywhere, anytime. They do not necessarily mean that the world is in a state of quiescence; rather, my inner world is still, tranquil. These moments have grown to be very precious, and I put in effort to get them. In a world that is increasingly operating at a frenzied pace, these transient moments are a breath of fresh air.  These moments help me put things in perspective, analyze what I am really feeling in that moment versus the truth that I know. The truth is that even in my imperfection as a mom struggling to quieten my soul, grace will meet me there.

It is silent now.

Day 30 – End of my 30 day writing challenge

This is Day 30 of the 30 writing challenge, which can only mean one thing. It is overrrrr! Wooop. I am so excited to have done this challenge, not so much for the numbers, but for me, for moms who follow this blog! Let’s just say, if you want to imagine what I am like today, this video shows it best 😀 In this post, I am going to give my insights into what the challenge was like, somewhat a recap, show highlights over the 30 days as well as appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read.

This is where the blog started. I had always yearned to start a blog and chronicle my Postpartum Depression Journey, and healing as it progresses. For whatever reason, I kept postponing setting up the blog. I was my worst critic, and chief procrastinator. I always had a reason, till I realized there are never perfect conditions for anything (well, save for a ripe avocado and a hot meal 😀 ). I had to start, however I could. And so, first post went up to welcome my readers, and give them a feel of what it is like to be on ‘the island’, and a little about me.

After a couple of posts, I figured I wanted to do something that would get me out of my comfort zone, something that would push me further and allow me to reach out to more moms. That is how the 30 day writing challenge was birthed. I was a bit skeptical at the onset. Here’s the thing, you really don’t know that readers hold you accountable till you skip a day in the challenge and someone asks you what happened! So yes, I was concerned about whether I’d be able to hack the challenge. As a counter-measure, I decided to donate Ksh 1000 to MyMindMyFunk for every skipped day of the challenge.

Now, here is the thing, I did not want to pledge 100 bob because that would be easy; 1000 would make me rethink before I say I am too tired/hungry/sleepy/experiencing writer’s block to blog. Suffice to say, I skipped only 1/30 days. If you look keenly, you will notice that Day 19 of the 30 day writing challenge is missing. So, I get to keep my word in support of Sitawa Wafula‘s mental health organization in the coming days.

Were there days I felt like this was too much? Yes. Were there days I asked myself what had I gotten myself into? Yes. Were there days I asked myself whether I was living the truth on my blog, looking for grace even when it is scanty? Many days those ones. But the end goal kept me going (plus this has been a rough month for me as a WAHM, so pesa onge, loosely translated to cash on the low). I have learned many lessons which I will share in one of the posts this month, so look out for that too *does the happy dance*.

Recapping the 30 day writing challenge

Looking at analytic information on my WordPress Dashboard, the most widely read post was actually Day 1 – Lost Identity where I shared my experience on losing my identity as a new mom, the core of who I was in my bubbly persona. Depression has a penchant for throwing you off balance, so much so that you can hardly recognize the woman in the mirror. The ominous feeling of a lost identity and a depressed soul. In healing now, I am relearning this identity; first as a child of God, as an individual, as a mom, as a daughter and as a friend.

Day 10 – Angst was, undoubtedly, one of the hardest posts to write ten days into the challenge. This heartfelt post could be a trigger for some, because in it, I share the darkest moments of my PPD journey – been suicidal, and hating motherhood so intensely. I remember Googling exactly this phrase: ‘Why do I hate my son so much?’ This was a very hard place. Looking back, the journey from this angst to now has allowed me to reach out to other moms, both with PPD and without. Beauty for ashes, now I see the beauty of it all.

Day 15 – When Loneliness Creeps in for new moms was, in the last 30 days, the third most read post. And for good reason. Sometimes I think moms-to-be have this illusion thinking that once baby comes, you get to pick up with your girls right where you left off before you hobbled to the labour ward. This loneliness was a complete shocker for me. Reading through the feedback after posting this affirmed the need for moms to connect more closely after delivery.

During the challenge, I also put together resourceful posts for anyone who would like more information on Postpartum Depression which you can read using the links below:

Day 3 – Postpartum Depression Therapy

Day 14 – #Snapshotsforsanity

Day 17 – 3 Lessons Learnt During Healing after Postpartum Depression

Day 23 – Stages of Postpartum Depression

Then there were those posts that gave glimpses of my life as a mom, the challenges of single parenting (albeit with some subtlety) as well as the rigorous stage that is poop, pee and everything potty training!

Day 2 – Masked.

Day 4 – Good Enough, Or Not.

Day 8 – 10 Things I would Tell My Pregnant Self

Day 12 – Shouting at my son, and 4 tips that helped me.

Day 22 – Of Potty Training Routines and Brushing Teeth

If you would like to have a look at all the posts over the course of the writing challenge, feel free to make your way here. So there, the summary of the amazing journey that the 30 day writing challenge has been. I cannot publish this post without expressing my gratitude for each and every person who took their time to read, to make sense of my words and to immerse themselves in the world of a PPD survivor. Thankful for the support, the encouragement and the criticism. Here is to new beginnings, new opportunities and new connections. Eternally grateful for abounding grace in the now.

Mood \0/
#tbt but Current Mood \0/ Photo By Kiarii Kimani

Featured Image Photo Credits: Daymond John

UPDATE: 13. October.2015

The 30 day writing challenge was on condition that for any skipped days, I get to donate Ksh 1000 to Sitawa’s organization, My Mind My Funk. I like to keep myself accountable, it is integrity even in the small stuff that makes all the difference. Here’s a screenshot to the same effect. So glad to be a part of Sitawa’s projects.

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