Postnatal depression and I
It was almost instant. The glum feeling. Feeling low. Helpless. Guilt.
The birth of my baby had left me a different person. I was teary over every little thing. Post birth, I kept taking my frustration out on my husband. I would moan at him because he wouldn’t wake for the night feeds. I would moan because he would not be awake when I needed him to be. He was shattered. He was exhausted. I knew this, still I carried on being as horrible as I could be. I felt like I needed to argue. I felt like pushing all his buttons. And then the overwhelming feeling of guilt would take over and so I would cry some more.
At first I put this odd behaviour down to hormones and exhaustion. I just wanted to be out of that extremely hot hospital. I wanted to walk. I wanted to pick my baby up as and when I wanted to — but I couldn’t due to the caesarean. I couldn’t feed my child, I couldn’t hold him, I couldn’t bend to change him — every little thing that was supposed to be ‘normal’ was difficult.
Then we came home. Finally!! I was out of the overheated ward and into my own bed. And I slept. I slept such a deep sleep that I did not hear my baby cry. To this day, this feeling of guilt has not left me. Who doesn’t hear their own baby cry? What kind of mother has her baby in her arms — yet has the whole family outside her bedroom door screaming out her name as the baby has been crying ruthlessly for half an hour. Both my husband and I were so shattered — with no sleep for five days straight — that we could not hear anything! This happened twice. I left my baby to cry while I slept peacefully.
I know it wasn’t my fault. I know, it happened unintentionally. I know my body was battered. I know all this, yet this feeling doesn’t shift. My heart feels so heavy and my eyes always well up. I still apologise to my baby for those days, almost six months on.
With no time to recover, and the sleepless nights continuing; I felt these feelings of sadness growing deeper and deeper within me. Sometimes my baby would cry, and I would just watch him — thinking what has happened to my life. Other times, I would leave him with my husband and just walk away to somewhere it was quieter. Many times, I would cry with him, unaware of how much more I could cope with this. And with each of these moments, I would feel so much guilt that I felt this way. Surely, no mother behaves this way with their child? Surely, all mothers instantaneously pick up their child when they cry and soothe them? So why am I behaving like this?
Everything came as a shock. I had the most troublesome pregnancy. From constant running into hospitals due to fears of miscarriages, to being kept in to check why the baby kept stopping his movements. From swollen ankles, leading to being injected daily to prevent clotting, to vomiting and fainting constantly. The caesarean was also so unexpected. We only went in to check out my swollen ankle, and they found the baby to be in a breech position — so they kept us in! It was the day after my wedding anniversary — and we planned to go for lunch after our appointment. We ended up staying in hospital, as they wanted to operate the next day. So I had to fast. No eating for twelve hours prior to the surgery. My husband, may Allah be pleased with him, fasted with me. The next day came and they told us emergency cases had arrived so they couldn’t operate. So I ate, stayed another night, and began fasting again. The same thing happened for three days until we lost our patience and they finally operated. My fear of needles was tested at its peak. I was injected left, right and centre. Cannulas were inserted wrong and had to be redone, thrice! Injections were inserted into my spine. Post surgery, again, I had to be injected every day for two weeks to stop my blood from clotting. My stitches were beginning to come undone from the strain of picking my baby up from his cot. It was all a nightmare! Not what I expected at all.
All this took a toll on my body. Big time. All I did was cry. I just wanted everything to stop and be ‘normal’. I see mothers smiling all the time, having a blast with their baby. Why not me? I see mothers having a smooth, happy pregnancy. Why not me?
And then it was finally written on paper. Post natal depression.
“It’s ok”, they said. “It’ll pass on its own. Just meet with other mothers, and don’t feel guilty. Try to sleep as much as you can and get help where you can”.
Seriously? Was this the advice they were giving me? It is far more easier said than done. I’ve not had the chance to meet other mothers. My husband has been meaning to show me where these meeting places were, but he has been busy with work it became difficult. I wasn’t familiar with the area as I moved in recently and so meeting others became a dream that never happened. Sleep, well, that became the unknown. My husband works five days, so I’d feel bad to ask him to do the night shifts. When the weekends came, he’d often be so shattered that he couldn’t wake up. Alhamdulillaah, at times, he would and those days were easier to handle. The feeling of guilt was stalking me wherever I went. It wasn’t so easy to shift. I felt guilty to leave my baby with someone else so I could sleep. I mean, he is my baby and it is my duty to take care of him, no one else’s. So why should I pass on my responsibility? Surely, no loving mother would do such a thing? What if I do and my baby begins to think someone else is his mother? All these weird thoughts began to take over my mind.
Praying was always what helped me when I felt sad. But even praying became difficult. He would constantly cry or wake really quickly. So I’d pray my fard and rush back to him. I feel like my kuhsoo is no longer there. I feel like I pray just to complete my fard — rather than cleansing my soul. I feel shattered to sometimes pray my sunnah — even if I have the chance! Tilawaah has even become difficult. Talking to Allah always helped, but I felt I never had that ‘alone’ time with Him. I try talking to my husband, but as much as he tries to understand, I know he doesn’t. I can see his frustration. I can see how hard it is for him too. I try explaining something and he wouldn’t understand. So I get frustrated because he isn’t getting me. Most times he doesn’t know what to say, so he’ll just say it’s ok and I’m ok. But it is not ok and I am not ok. We’re far from being fine. I feel like I am losing my sanity sometimes and I don’t recognise who I am anymore.
So I’m just waiting. I carry on the best I could and alhamdulillaah it is getting better with time.
I still have these bouts of sadness. I am still very much overwhelmed. I am incredibly shattered and the tears haven’t stopped rolling, even as I type this — but they are far more less than the first few months. I just hope with time, it’ll keep getting better. I will get better.
I request a mention in your supplications — if you will. I would be immensely grateful. I ask you to make du’a for my husband, who is having to deal with what comes his way and that Allah rewards and increases him in his understanding, love and comfort. I ask you to make du’a for my baby — that Allah grants him good health and imaan, and aids him to grow up to be the best he could be — worshipping Him and following the beautiful steps taken by the Prophet (upon him be peace). I ask that you pray I am given the tawfeeq to increase my imaan and become a better mother, to treat my boys better and shake of this thing lingering over me. And lastly, and most importantly, I ask you to pray for those who are walking in my shoes. Who feel they have nowhere to go and feel closed in. May He ‘azza wa jal Protect and Safeguard them, Love and Honour them, Guide and Comfort them and be there for them when they feel broken. Ameen.
Originally published at inspiritedminds.org.uk on December 23, 2015.