Ramblings on motherhood, toys and straws

These holidays have been an emotional rollercoaster for me and mine. The school holidays began with a bang. My heart was bursting with gratitude and just the sheer amazement that we made it this far. Here, my not-so little boy, all grown, graduating from kindergarten to Primary school (wrote about it here). It was a big moment, I still look back and I’m like whoa, see God. (You may never understand the magnitude of this milestone if you never had to struggle with depression that made you question your ability and worth as a mom. I have blogged about this here and here and here as well).

So, anyhow, graduation came to an end and the very next week he was admitted to hospital, and discharged after almost a week. Mom and baby were ecstatic to have him in great health. Then mom got the infection and off I was to hospital. Took a couple of days off, and was better. Right after that, kid had a stomach bug and it was back to hospital. To say this was a rough ride is to put it mildly. I was really scared, and my thoughts were going crazy. (PS: Has any of you moms ever made the silent prayer that says, I’d rather be sick than my child gets unwell… then you actually get sick and are unable to cater for the child’s needs? I’m like – this is twisted irony 🙂 )

Read More: 7 Gross things moms do (admit it, you have done one of these!)

Fast forward to now, we are both in great health and are thankful for that. And we are back to bouncing off walls and off each other. Don’t go just yet, I am going somewhere with this post… So, J has an affinity for drinking straws, the disposable ones. A weird affinity that sometimes irks me because, I just don’t understand why anyone ought to take their yoghurt in a cup using a straw – but maybe therein lies the wonder and amazement of a child’s life.

Now, drinking with the straws is no big deal per se. It’s what follows once that happens which gets on my nerves. The not-so-empty cup is left on the table, and the straw leaning over. It’s easy to drop the cup by simply having the swish of my cardigan touch the end of the straw. For whatever reason, this is one of those pet peeves I have always had.

How does it relate to the hospital visits? The few days we were at hospital got me thinking how we as parents take so much for granted. We have this misguided illusion of immortality. There is all the time in the world, we think to ourselves. Until sickness jolts us back to reality. The other day I looked at him playing on the floor, strewn with all his toys, LEGO blocks, and my pens and pencils. On the table, the yoghurt cup and straw he had just used. For a split second I wanted to scold him and ask him to clean up.

Read More: Lessons from my son’s bag of toys

Then it struck me, when he was sick, I prayed and hoped that he would get back his health because at the time, I certainly preferred a messy house to a sick child. And here he was, playing, all energetic – yet I was inwardly grumbling at the sight of the messy floor. It struck me that one day, when this rambunctious little boy is all grown, there may never be a messy floor again.

I realized that a time will come, when there will be the last straw – quite literally. When he is taller than mommy, and has a deep voice to go with it, I may never need to tell him to discard the straw and drop the cup in the sink, because he will not be so little anymore. A time will come when there will not be the pattering of little feet up the staircase, a time when the warmth of morning cuddles and wet cheek kisses will be few and in-between.

This struck me because the inquisitive and wondrous stage we are in will not last forever. The genuine sparkle of his brown eyes when he makes a discovery may not be so obvious in a few years to come. I am making an intentional decision to enjoy this stage, to enjoy the endless stories even when I’d rather be scrolling down the gram, to enjoy the balloon games and blowing bubbles while they last – not forgetting the cartoons on JimJam. As I write this, my work desk is filled with toys, and you guessed right – a cup of yoghurt.

 

Lifting the lid on postpartum depression

It is always an honor to be featured on someone else’s blog because it means one thing: more people are reading (and learning, hopefully) about Postpartum depression (PPD). I will never tire of talking about this form of depression, in part because i know how much mental health sucks. I am grateful for the different platforms I have been featured on (see this page). Today’s post was one featured by Kalekye Kasina, an award-winning journalist with a passion for health matters, which is how I got to share my story with her.

I met Kalekye at a volunteer meet-up organized by Carol Ng’anga, founder of the HELD organization  – an organization that offers help for those affected by cancer as well as creates awareness on the same. I am always amazed at the resilience and sheer determination to forge forward by Carol and her team. So, anyway, the volunteer meet-up yielded friendships, and this post is one of the fruits of the same. Thank you Kalekye for highlighting postpartum depression and the reason moms need to get help.

Read the featured post by clicking on this link.

Happy reading! And remember, you are not alone in this. Do get in touch using the contact page if you need any clarifications or would like to speak to a professional.

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Guest Post – Why I Think I Died In 2016

In this post, I made a call out for guest posts by moms who wanted to share their stories on Postpartum Depression (PPD). Today’s post is by Vicki K, a phenomenal lady who I met during the Mommy Conversations, a forum held by Amira Africa (and wrote about it here). Vicki is a mom to a handsome champ, and has struggled with PPD. She is on the road to recovery, and in this candid post, she shares her journey and the isolation that comes with been depressed as a new mom.

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In recent times, I have come to appreciate how amazing life is. Why, you ask?  Because as I look back at my past years I know, my lowest moment in life was in 2016. If there is a year I would have fit perfectly well as an actress on the series walking dead. 2016 is the year I ask myself severally:

“Why was I so uptight for most of the year? Why couldn’t I relate with anyone during this period? Why couldn’t anyone understand me? Why did I feel so utterly alone despite been surrounded by so much love?”

All this was because I had Postpartum depression (PPD). I knew all along I was suffering from PPD, and even did a Twitter thread on the same at some point. Knowing I was depressed, however, did not solve the problem. It could not. I shut it down most of the time all by myself, waiting for it to pass.

I was waiting, waiting for anyone to notice, waiting for a sign that my life is worth it.

I was waiting to be told I matter. I thought all this would solve my PPD.

 

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as these. I guess I was looking at it the wrong way for a whole year. I need not explain what PPD is as there is a lot of information on this website (Read a basic intro in plain and simple English here, the symptoms, stages and treatment options available for moms with PPD).Depression is depressing. Your mind is at play here and whatever you do, it’s is still right there with you. It keeps lying to you, “You do not matter, and you are not worth it. You are the only mom suffering. You are a bad mom, and your child does not deserve you.” And it goes on and on, the unrelenting negative thoughts.

My walking dead experience was filled with tormenting words my brain lied to me on a daily basis. Sometimes, I would just stare at nothingness, waiting for the days to pass. When I smiled, it was rarely genuine. I don’t remember being truly happy, unless I was far from my son which was not often. I always felt like I was on lock down. It was as if society had told me “No, you are not supposed to follow your dreams, you have to take care of your child or no one else well.” It started to become a reality. My mind was playing tricks on me all the time and winning.

Read More: My Postpartum Depression Made Me Wear a Mask

The worst part of all this, was that my son always faced the wrath that came with my PPD. He did not deserve it. All he was being was an infant – messy, loud, and demanding like all other infants are. He just wanted my attention. When my triggers surfaced, he never had it easy. Shouting and abandonment were part of it. In many situations where he needed love most, I just was never there enough. Do not get me wrong, I had a supportive family and close friends and I’m eternally grateful for their presence. Whatever I wanted I could have. I did not even have to stress on food, baby clothes, feeding utensils, and even diapers. I even had a 24-hour support system. (This is for the people who tell depressed individuals, ‘ooh, you should be grateful you have a child, so many couples want a child but cannot have them’. ‘You have everything, stop being ungrateful.’, ‘You are very selfish.’-the list goes on and on. This is a reminder, it isn’t that we are not grateful, or do not know all things. We do, we are struggling).

So, why then was I depressed most of the time? I always felt like I did not deserve it all, as if it was not fair for women to bear the entire burden all by themselves. (This, in itself declared that I’m a feminist) It didn’t’ make any sense to me, why couldn’t babies just take care of themselves and be quiet? Does my life even matter? On my hardest days with PPD, I would sleep hoping to die, hoping not to wake up. I did have suicidal thoughts, but I did not have the guts. I did not care whether I was going to heaven, hell or transition into something else in my next life, even a stone. Then morning would come repeatedly.

What was my turning point in all this?

I had many turning points that have made me who I am now. At one point, I had a huge fight with my cousin all because of cockroaches. Yes, cockroaches. The memory is still vivid. This was my first ever word fight and hopefully my last. I realized later maybe I was placing too much pressure on her and I’m the one on the wrong or maybe she is just having a hard time too. Secondly, after an event I had attended in September 2016, I decided to reach out on a blog where the writer was among the panelists, when my PPD got out of control. Getting help and having someone who related to what I was going through was amazing. I followed a platform on PPD and realizing I was not alone, again, gave me comfort.

Read More: I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret

At one point, I decided to reread the Harry Potter book Series. For two months, this was my go to book. I would itch to finish one book at a time. Fascinatingly, this time round, I read it with a different viewpoint to the extent I always noticed when the characters were depressed – how ironical. When you are going through something, you tend to notice others experiencing the same situation. This is for my friends who came before 2016 and wondered why I became excessively quiet in that year.  No, I am not yet fully recovered after PPD yet but life is a journey. So, as I continue to put my trust in the One who is not done with me yet, I begin to understand, I begin to find peace even when my now son who is approaching terrific two wants to ‘eat me alive’. I now speak more positivity into my life than I did in 2016. I believe now that nothing lasts forever and God’s timing is ideal.

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Thank you Vicki for sharing your story. It does take courage to open about one’s struggle, but I am realizing just how much one mom’s story is a voice for the many moms who may not be able to speak out. Vicki is passionate about wildlife conservation, and you can catch up with her on her blog here

The Mom I Want To Be – Part I

We have had a couple of rough sleepless nights in this past week, thanks to an extremely high fever that saw mommy and son wake up at odd hours. At some point, I had to reduce the layers of cloths the champ had in order to keep the fever in check, plus of course, medication to reduce it – I always keep some medicine for the fever because it has a tendency to strike at the weirdest hours. We later attributed the fever to a stomach upset, from which the champ has since recovered.

The erratic nights made me a walking zombie in the days that followed. I kept dozing off at my work desk, and with this cold, it is not hard to see how I’d just take a few minutes and snooze away. Listening to his soft breathing last night had me thinking about a lot. It brought to memory how I really struggled with sleep deprivation in my son’s first months of life. It was crazy – I have mentioned before in this post, that first week after we were discharged, he slept for an average of 15 minutes. 15-freaking-minutes! It drove me nuts, literally.

Read More: I had uncontrollable anger with my Postpartum Depression

I knew we wouldn’t get much sleep with a newborn, but I just didn’t imagine it to that extent. I had not known just how much lack of sleep could turn me into a moron. I started to become extremely irritable. I would snap at the slightest provocation, which in this case could be something as significant as a sink full of dishes. Thinking about doing laundry was enough to turn me into a teary mess. I had many anger outbursts, angry because this is not what motherhood was meant to be like. I mean, where was all the bliss? I wasn’t enjoying it. I was a sleep-deprived mom at the brink of losing my sanity – and I felt so helpless.

Needless to say, after this recent bout of fever, we have resumed a normal sleeping pattern, which for my son, is 12 straight hours. Mulling over this had me thinking, whether I could manage another round of crazy sleep deprivation with Number Two. It is not something I am actively planning presently, but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread come upon me. I have a rambunctious five year old-going-fifteen, and it occurred to me just how much I have forgotten about the infancy stages.

Read More: Changes – Change is beautiful

My Postpartum Depression means I have a hazy recollection of my son’s first years. Sometimes I look at photos saved in my phone from 2011, and save for the familiarity of faces and places, I cannot quite tell what I felt. I was going through the motions, like a robot. I have what I like to call missed memories – I remember posting on Facebook about his first two teeth, but that’s just about it. These milestones were covered in a haze of depressive days. I have no idea what I felt when he first called me mom, what his first steps were like, what his weaning experience was all about. It is all very hazy.

I keep thinking to myself, I would want a different experience for my second when the time comes. I want to be the mother I always envisioned prepartum. I want to be the mother I envisioned myself as in my early 20’s – doting, caring and certainly not struggling with depression. I want to be a better mother than I am. I am well aware that postpartum depression (PPD) affects moms well into their second and third pregnancies as much as it affects first time moms. As a matter of fact, moms who have had PPD in their first pregnancy are at a higher risk of the same in subsequent pregnancies. It is a glaring fact, and I am only too aware of it.

Read More: #postpartumdepression – The conversation on Victoria’s Lounge

“Are you scared of having another child?”

It is a question I have been asked in a couple of media interviews, and my honest answer is, yes I am scared about a second one, scared at the thought of PPD all over again. But even in the face of this scare, I am well aware of the need to put up solid support systems before and after. I know that my family is present, that they are aware I struggled with PPD and are very supportive. I know I have contacts who I can call at 2am if need be. I am more conscious of what my triggers are, and cognizant of what red flags to be on the lookout for. There is the constant reminder that I was never a bad mom for suffering a mental health condition that affected my ability to love on, and bond with my son. From where I stand now, I am better placed, not because I am immune to PPD, but because I am informed and empowered.

Reminder: Postpartum Depression does not discriminate; it affects moms regardless of religion, social class, age, level of education and order of pregnancy. This is why it is important to raise awareness, get the society to know that there is such a thing as PPD, but most importantly, the fact that help is available. Please feel free to get in touch with me using the Contact page on the top menu if you need someone to talk to or are wondering where to start. I have a Facebook page where I share on PPD, and you can follow on Twitter too.

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Changes

The only permanent thing in life is, change.

The first time I read this statement, I found it ironical, because changes are transient, yet the element of things changing is one of life’s permanent fixtures. The thing about change is that it upsets our norm, it gets us out of our comfort zones and projects us into the unknown. This is scary, but my friend Carol always tells me scary is good.

We are creatures of habit, who fall in love with routine and familiar places, familiar people and familiar territory. Anything that threatens to upset this balance is frowned upon, and certainly rubs us the wrong way. But, as I am realizing, there in the scare of change lies the opportunity to grow afresh. It is a chance to grow as an individual as well.

The past few weeks have been an incredible number of days, for many reasons, which I will not divulge on here, at least not now. It is a phase of transition that will upset our normal routine, for the better, thankfully. I am scared, I am uncertain, I am unsure – but what I know is that this is an answered prayer.

Read More: I remember

Looking back and realizing, depression, Postpartum depression included, takes away the ability to see life in all its fullness. It makes us doubt who we really are, how dare you dream that big? How dare you believe you deserve *that*? Who are you to ask as much of life? So what do we do, we stay masked, hidden behind a façade of IG posts and flowery FB updates while struggling to come to terms. It is dawning on me that, actually, who am I not to ask so much of life? Who am I not to dream big? Who am I not to be all that?

And so, in this, I am swimming with the waves of change, not against them, taking every ebb and flow in stride, because change is scary, but change is also good. I am incredibly grateful for the support system I have had in the past couple of days, the amazing friends who kept in touch and checked up on how we are holding up after that depressive episode, and to W for been an amazing pillar in our lives lately.

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Still…

I have typed and deleted, typed and deleted the first portion of this post severally, even courted the thought of ignoring it altogether. Why, because it feels like a continuous from last week’s post on parenting struggles here. Struggling, still.

Do the struggles ever end? Is it okay to admit that this is hard and that, I am struggling now? To admit that single parenting is not a walk in the park? To admit that I have these crazy thoughts which I cannot type here? To admit that I fear motherhood is not blissful for me? That on days like this, teh struggles feel like waves crushing on the rocks, again and again? To admit that just when I think the cloud is lifting I am hit by another one that reminds me of…still, struggling?

Then, I am asking myself, what is the point of helping other moms if I myself cannot help me? What is the point of reaching out on the PPD-Kenya pages  if I am a broken mess right now? Doesn’t that take away from the very message I am trying to pass across, to let moms know that they are not alone while I feel incredibly lonely in this phase of parenting? How do I reassure the woman within that it actually gets better with raising a child? How much more do I repeat the words I share with other moms and make them a reality right now? Until I get to a place where I believe it?

I cringe when I think of dealing with tantrums (because whoever said tantrums are for terrible twos did not think of it, but issa lie!). We are going from “it is a fine day to enjoy motherhood’ to pulling my hair and wondering why this child just won’t listen. Complete with the high-pitched screams, throwing things down and dramatic cries. It is intense, and it is frustrating. It is hard, and it is vulnerable to admit it is hard. Sometimes it is fraught with fears and regrets of a past, because nothing screams louder of ‘incapable mom’ than a child who pushes the limit to your breaking point.

It is the fear of doing something that you will regret. It is the fear of going overboard and coming to a place where motherhood will never feel the same way. It is the same fear I had, of walking away and never coming back. Single moms who have raised boys on your own, does this phase ever come to an end? I am struggling, still.

Burn Out

It has been a while since I posted anything on here, not because I didn’t want to, or didn’t have anything to say… Truth is, I have been struggling these past four weeks. For whatever reason, it has been an incredibly hard season with parenting. I have stumbled, waddled, and fought through these past couple of weeks. And you know what is so scary about it? The fact that I could feel myself losing a grip on me; it is that all-so familiar feeling when things are about to spin out of control.

Having suffered Postpartum Depression before, this is one of the scariest things as far as my mental health is concerned. There is always that lingering thought at the back of my mind, “could it be depression, again? What am I not doing right? What am I missing? OR perhaps I have let go of my self-care toolbox and I am paying a mighty price for it…”

It is almost cliché, parenting does not come with a manual, you learn on the go – always learning. And yes, I know I have written that 5 was the best year yet… and it was. Until this depressive episode knocked me off my feet. (NOTE: Not depression, depressive episode, it is temporary, it will lift off, it is lifting off). The realization that my son is growing up way faster than I am probably adjusting hit home hard. And with it comes the independence, the ability to structure thoughts and articulate himself, and of course, the need to push boundaries and limits.

Read More: Why I kept my Postpartum Depression A Secret

And these, admittedly got to me. These parenting struggles. ( I am a single mom, and we recently moved away from home to live on our own. Needless to say, while it seemed like my son had settled well in school and in our new neighborhood, the upsetting of family structure as he knew it started to unravel in a myriad of ways, among them epic meltdowns and legend tantrums. I am talking punch-you-back-because-you-are-not-getting-me-this-snack-and-so-i-will throw-food-in-the-bin – doesn’t help kid takes tae-kwondo classes at school…)

A good part of me could not reconcile the lessons I learned during my therapy sessions with what I was going through. For many reasons, this child seemed not to take any correction from me, and at the time, no one could step in seeing as we were in a new hood. And I started to feel that all-so familiar sense of overwhelm, the one that starts to gather small clouds of haze in true depressive-style.

There were all the red flags: I stopped going for my morning walks, I stopped journaling, early mornings became a thing of the past and the food cravings hit hard and proper. I have struggled with emotional eating before, so the moment I fall back, off early morning runs, off conscious eating, I know I am teetering on the edges of a depressive episode. Add to these the pressures of working from home and I was a proper mess.

Read More: Planning to visit a new mom? Here are 8 things to remember

I am slowly coming out of this depressive episode. I am finding myself, first as an individual, then as a mother – because you cannot pour from an empty cup. I am looking at my selfcare toolbox once again. It is a work in progress. I am easing off pressure with work. I am looking at options on how to get help with parenting – grateful to have a support system around me. I am grateful the people I never thought would come through, and understand this phase I am in, showed up for me. I am doing something about it, and that is what matters.

Why am I sharing this? I am doing this to remind myself that a depressive episode is not a relapse and to keep in mind that I am not a bad mother. This is to remind myself that it is okay not to be okay, but it is not okay to build a home there. That kicking PPD in the butt does not mean I will not struggle with parenting some days. And to let moms know, it is okay to ask for help. It matters.

Image credits

 

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.

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This is why I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret

“Awwww, he is so chubby and adorable, look at him…”

I often got this when my son was still an infant, never mind that he is now a grown champ who prefers bouncing off walls and seats to, well, sitting still for 5 microseconds, (comes with the age I guess. We are at five now). These words, while very well-meaning, were like an empty reverberating echo in my mind.

‘Couldn’t they see I was struggling with motherhood? Couldn’t they see the hollow posts I put in my coded Facebook updates? Perhaps if they looked closely, they could see the hollowness in my sleep-deprived eyes…’

Maybe they couldn’t see it. Even if they did, maybe they couldn’t understand what I was going through. That was it!

They may never understand why bonding was so incredibly hard, why the proverbial blissful motherhood feelings seemed to elude me, why many of my nights were spent muffling my tears in the already soaked pillow.

Read More: Getting Help

They may never understand what it is like to suffer in such silence, struggling with every passing moment. What words would explain that though I struggled to bond with my son, I cringed at the thought of been his mommy because I felt he deserved better? Because I felt I was a bad mom who would never redeem the lost moments?

These thoughts are the reason I kept my Postpartum Depression a secret.

Because they wouldn’t understand…

Because motherhood comes naturally for moms…

Because ‘you should be grateful you have a healthy baby’…

Because, why can’t you snap out of it…

Simply put, because of the stigma that comes when moms admit they are struggling with depression after a safe delivery. PPD Island was birthed out of the need to stamp out this stigma and create awareness on PPD, one post at a time. So that moms are not ashamed to admit they are struggling with motherhood. So that moms can ask for help without going on a guilt trip. So that our society is aware that Postpartum Depression is real.

Featured Image: Patricia Esteve

Antenatal depression and what you need to know

I was talking to a friend recently, and they mentioned something that gave me the idea to pen this post. She asked, paraphrased,

“Looking back, were you able to tell anything was amiss [when you were pregnant]?”

My thoughts ran back to 2011. All of 2011, for the most part, was a blur – Pregnant, single and very confused. Looking back, now I see the red flags I missed. The constant tearing  (I remember walking downtown and just crying, not the pretty crying – I am talking bloodshot eyes, mucus and lots of tissue-), the sleepless nights I would lay awake wondering what this baby was going to eat (this baby who is now all of 5 years going 15), the drastic mood shifts and everything in between.

Little did I know that these were the early warning signs I was at risk of depression. Then I lost my job in the third trimester and everything just seemingly reeled out of control in my world. The thoughts of been unable to cater for baby’s needs were the catalyst for the Postpartum depression I suffered after his birth. In retrospect, there were all the signs that not everything was fine, but I remember thinking, ‘ah, it shall pass. Maybe it’s the hormones…’

Read More: 8 things to know when you visit a new mom

Today, I would love to share on antenatal depression. Why? Because it is often the precursor to Postpartum depression (PPD). Antenatal depression, just as the name suggests, is depression that occurs during pregnancy. While this is not perhaps as well known as PPD, it still is prevalent. According to PANDAS UK, around 1 in 10 moms will be depressed during their pregnancy. This is a sobering fact because 1 in 7 moms are at risk of PPD.

The causes of antenatal depression are broadly categorized into three: social, emotional and physical causes. Socially, some of the causes include lack of a support framework during pregnancy, an absent partner and generally, the stigma associated with depression. Given that the older generation typically may not have been aware of the different mental illnesses, it is easy to see why all these factors predispose a mom to antenatal depression.

Emotionally, the thought of bringing new life is often overwhelming, whether it is the first child or the fourth one. Add to this the fact that moms who voice their concerns are often told that the drastic mood swings are as a result of hormonal changes (what I thought at the time), and there’s not much that can be done about it.

Read More: Struggling with PPD? Here’s what you may want to avoid

The physical changes that come with pregnancy may predispose some moms to antenatal depression. The drastic changes include engorged breasts, extreme fatigue especially in the last trimester, swollen legs, bladder distress and heartburn among others, place a lot of stress on the body. Getting through the day sometimes get so so exhausting. It is little surprise therefore, that some women fall into antenatal depression.

With these in mind, it is important to look out for the symptoms of antenatal depression. These symptoms are eerily similar to those of PPD. The only difference is the onset that marks each of the perinatal mood disorders.

Symptoms of antenatal depression

  • Guilty feelings
  • Endless bouts of crying (as was my case)
  • Withdrawing from social circles, that is a mom-to-be is no longer interested in been around the people who mean the world to her. This is often accompanied by loss of interest in activities/hobbies they previously enjoyed.
  • A crippling fear of what the future holds, whether one will be able to care for the baby well.
  • Low energy levels
  • Appetite changes (one is either eating too much or too little)
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Fearing to speak out and ask for help
  • Recurrent sleepless nights for some moms

Left unchecked, antenatal depression affects the mom after birth and they go on to suffer from PPD. Therapy is a common method of treatment for moms with antenatal depression. If you have any concerns as a mom-to-be, remember there is no shame in reaching out for help. You are better off wrong (meaning you do not have antenatal depression) than fail to ask for help and suffer under the haze of this form of depression.

 

 

 

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