My son turned five in January this year. 5 good years. 5 solid years.
To say I am excited about it is an understatement. I remember how, in 2011, when I realized I was pregnant, I could not envision how I would bring this child up. I struggled with seeing beyond a year a month, especially in the days that followed after a threatened miscarriage. When it dawned on me that I would be a single parent, I slowly reeled into what I now realize was antenatal depression.
Antenatal depression, while perhaps not as widely known as Postpartum depression (PPD), is a form of depression that occurs during pregnancy. It is characterized by symptoms such as persistent worry about the pregnancy and safety of the baby, sudden mood shifts, and withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities as well as extreme difficulty in concentrating. For some moms, this form of depression is also accompanied by engaging in risky behavior as well as intrusive thoughts of selfharm. Left unchecked, antenatal depression is often a precursor for postpartum depression [source].
And that is exactly what happened in my case, only I was not aware. Struggling with impending single motherhood, losing my job in my last trimester and everything in between left me gasping for breath. I recall vividly, walking in town one evening, so overwhelmed by the thoughts of pregnancy and the new role I was about to take on. I was saving every cent I could get to take care of this baby. Before I lost my job, it entailed frequent travelling, and to some extent, that was weighing down on me owing to the additional costs of the same.
Too overwhelmed, I started crying smirk in the middle of the city. It was not the pretty classy crying; no, I am talking about the ugly mucus-all-over-the-place type of crying. I crossed the roads in a haze, not sure I wanted to be pregnant anymore. I should have known there was something wrong… but even then, I felt resigned to whatever curveballs came my way. And come they did when PPD hit.
After he was born, I struggled with intrusive thoughts. I struggled with bonding with him. It is said that moments with a newborn are blissful, magical even. I did not see it. Sleep-deprived, utterly exhausted and wondering just why I couldn’t bring myself to enjoying motherhood, these experiences threw me deep into Postpartum Depression.
As he grew up, and the milestones came and went, I struggled with the thoughts that my PPD would scar him for life. I feared he may never be able to love me as mom. Thoughts of been unable to bond with him continually haunted me. I never thought we’d make it to 5, but here we are. I recovered from PPD, I am able to bond with my son now, perhaps the best we have all his life. I am at a place where I appreciate been a mom. I am grateful for 5. Here is to 5 more, 15 more, 25 more…!
Why do I write this? To share with a mom struggling with PPD that there is hope. It may not get better in a day (Took me a couple of years to get to this place), but someday it will. I got help, I went for therapy, and I am here to tell you that you can pull through. That there’s hope, there’s help and it matters that you are holding on.