My brief story of postpartum depression
When I shared my story of the birth journey, some people told me that they also went through rough labour. I think more people (both mums and dads) than you think go through traumatic birth or postpartum depression with official diagnosis or without it. And sometimes sharing the stories help us heal. So here you go, my brief story of postpartum depression.
Perhaps it is no surprise that I developed the symptom of depression after going through a traumatic labour. Not having close friends or family in the UK also made it more difficult for me to cope with the new life with a baby. And of course, massive hormonal changes.
Because of these number of factors, I couldn’t bond with my daughter at all for the first week or so. I thought it was bizarre that this little creature looks so much like me. Wasn’t I supposed to fall in love unconditionally with your child? Wasn’t I supposed to share all those beautiful photos of your child or share how much you love your child on Facebook like other mum friends are doing? None of that happened initially. I felt overwhelmed. I felt like I was in an intensive bootcamp — the infant won’t wait for you no matter how much you want a break. I felt like I was a milk-supplier, a cow, on a treadmill. I missed the days when I was living with my husband alone. I missed the walks we did, just two of us, before we became, well, three of us.
I smiled less as the days went by. I lost appetite, even though I was supposed to be taking extra calories for breastfeeding. I suffered from flashbacks and nightmares of labour when I needed to sleep most. Then there were a few occasions where I developed intrusive thoughts, and it was a time we sought professional help seriously.
Long story short, I ended up with staying at Mother and Baby Unit for a day, but that’s perhaps a story for another time. I suppose putting myself and my daughter in a completely different environment for a however brief period of time helped maternal instinct and hormone to kick in within me. I’ve been quite happy since then, bonding with my daughter well, and enjoying the motherhood.
The most important lesson I learned from this experience is, to be honest with your feeling and speak out. I’m glad we got help at the early stage of the depression. I’m glad there are good support systems for newbie mums like me in Britain. I’m glad this country has less stigma for mental health and more dialogue around it than Japan, from where I came. Midwives, GP, Health Visitor, and Perinatal Mental Health teams offered to help both me and my husband immediately. We are grateful for their continued support. Of course, I cannot thank enough for my husband who has been supportive, as well as my mum who stayed with us for several weeks to help us out.
In the end, I was able to bond with my daughter. If you ask me today if I would like to leave her with someone for a week, my answer is “absolutely no”. I can’t believe that was a tempting offer back then. Nor can I believe I had intrusive thoughts. I do think about the days when I was just with my husband, but I am so looking forward to creating new memories together with our daughter.