Postnatal Depression is real and new mothers often fail to recognise it and reach out for help. If you are a new mother or going to be one or know someone who is, share this article of mine on the topic. Yes, once again on Mums Write. Don’t forget to show some love by liking the article (only if you like it) 🙂
Dear daughter o’mine,
You laugh a lot, with gay abandon, accompanied by snorts. Don’t let anyone tell you it is unladylike.
You climb on your dad, roll on the floor and play with cars. Don’t let them tell you should have been a boy.
You run, scream, jump and talk non stop, trying to burn the seemingly inexhaustible energy I am still wondering the source of. Don’t let their disapproving stares bother you.
You play with your dolls, cooking for and feeding them. You even put them to bed. Don’t let them tell you that is how girls play.
You like ribbons and pony tails but couldn’t care less about princesses and unicorns. You sleep with a teddy bear. You like trucks, aeroplanes and skateboards. Digging in the dirt and climbing trees are some of your favourite past times. Don’t let them teach you to choose between any of those.
Don’t let anyone define who you are or what you should be. Wear blacks, reds and blues if you like and be who you want to be.
You are just a child, free and wild. And that is how it should be.
So, I submitted an article to Mums Write and actually got accepted. If you are a parent or are going to be one, this might be some useful information. If you aren’t a parent, then share this with others who are.
I’ve been thinking a lot and philosophizing every aspect and detail of my life. I’ve been trying to figure out what is going wrong when really everything seems to be okey dokey. You know what I mean. Life cannot be perfect when there is a heap of dirty dishes in the sink, two loads of laundry waiting to be done and a hyper active child wanting to play with every darn thing she can lay her hands on. Need I say more? The house looks like a war scene on good days and absolutely apocalyptic on others. I’m still trying not to do it all, all the time. So okey dokey works well for me right now.
I am someone who likes having a fair amount of control. Like planning-executing, staying on top of my to-do list and in general feeling like I’m doing most of what I want to. And more often than not, things don’t go as planned. And I feel like I’m not up to it. I hold myself to some sort of standard and when I don’t live up to it I feel like I’ve let myself down. Which then leads to downward spiral of things and me.
In a lot of ways, I feel like staying at home is holding me back. I didn’t want to put it in words, for fear of it feeling like I’m accusing the child, because of whom I’m staying at home. But it isn’t. Neither of them is true. I’m staying at home not because of the child but because of my indecision. And all this overthinking has led me to finally unravel that staying at home doesn’t have to hold me back from doing anything. But it is. To put it in better words, I’m letting it.
I have stopped feeling passionate about writing or anything else that I used to be pretty ‘gung ho’ about. I have been thinking of getting serious about writing and didn’t want to put my heart out there, fearing what people would think of me as a writer (hah!) if I unravel my vulnerable self. I finally realized that it has been too darn long and not writing about what I really want to write about has doused the flame in me. I’m now scared of failure, scared of trying new things because I’m scared of failure, scared of changes because I’m scared of the unknown. And I’m done with being scared. No really, I don’t want to be scared anymore.
Staying at home didn’t mean I had to live an unhealthy lifestyle. It didn’t mean I had to just pass my time doing nothing, just because I could. It didn’t mean I had to stop dreaming. It didn’t mean I had to give up my hobbies. It didn’t mean I had to stop living my life, trying to make my child’s life perfect.
While I was at it, I asked myself what I would do if I wasn’t afraid of anything. What new thing would I try? Where would I go? How would it feel? And I was surprised at the possibilities that were right in front of me, that I had closed my eyes to.
So are you feeling down today? Have you been feeling down for sometime now? Why? Have you thought about it? If not I highly recommend doing what software folks call a “root- cause analysis”, which is self explanatory.
I have no idea when the terrible twos are supposed to begin. Baby A is 4 months short of being 3 years old and handling her is proving to be more difficult than I had thought. She is generally an easy child. She understands what I say and follows most of my instructions. Things started changing a couple of weeks back when she started becoming more wilful. She started resisting my instructions and doing things I have asked her to please not do. Now, it has reached a point where I am finding it extremely hard to not scream my head off at her and lose it completely. Something that I end up doing at times.
Today as she kicked and kicked and kicked her high chair before I served her lunch, despite me asking her not too do so. I had to separate myself from the situation to cool my head enough to be able to see it dispassionately. I had already screamed at her and gave two time outs since morning. I didn’t want it to become a norm that she gets used to. The morning had already taken a toll on me. Now that I am calm enough to think about it, I feel that she too must have been frayed at the edges.
It is very easy to let temper take hold of you and do something that you can later blame on it. But the damage would be done and there would be no way to take back what you have already said or done. I am a staunch believer of seeing things from all angles to arrive at a solution/conclusion as to how to handle the situation or the people involved in it. So I took my own advice and left the room. I’m sure I confused her little mind by not saying anything and disappearing from sight. I just sat there in the living room, watching the sky from the window, breathing deeply and just thinking things out, while she thought I was punishing her and started her crying routine. But I wasn’t done gathering myself.
When I dissected the situation, I understood that it wasn’t her that was sending me off the edge. She did trigger my reaction, however it wasn’t the cause. There are a lot of things going on in my life that aren’t how I want them to be and it upsets me. And I have been doing useless things that would take my mind off those things (one of which is internet). And whenever Baby A does something that I think she shouldn’t, it makes me lose it. And her constant amma* this, amma that accompanied by whining doesn’t help either.
Pretty brilliant, eh? Something that seems like you have no control over, just after a few minutes seems so completely, logically workable. It is not her fault that she is strong-willed. In fact I want her to be strong-willed, in the right way, so that she doesn’t get bogged down later in life. I don’t want her to learn to blindly follow what someone in authority says. So it isn’t fair to ask her to blindly relent to my wishes. It is her right to know why she is being asked to do something, so it is only fair to explain it to her. It isn’t easy. It will never be easy. But it is the right thing to do. I should know better than to exploit my authority as a parent. And to do that, I should first get the irritants out of my life. Those that aren’t letting me see things straight.
Thank you little child, for teaching me something wonderful, something worth learning and something important to remember throughout my life.
I will make changes in my life through this coming week, that I believe would help restoring the health of my mind and body. And it starts with “Disconnect and Detox”
I plan to disconnect with internet and social media for a week (to begin with) and detox both physically and mentally. Alongside I also want to cultivate some new habits and break the old ones. Of course, I will be back to tell you how it went.
So wish me luck. And see you around later.
PS: And mums, don’t beat yourself up if you do lose it once in a while. Scream if you must at that time, but always ALWAYS apologize and talk about it when when the both of you are calmer and saner. I bet I will lose it again at-least once in the coming week. It is going to be alright.
*amma is mom/mum is Kannada
These days I get worked up that nothing is going on in my life. Nothing that makes me move my physical and mental muscles. So much so that I stop doing whatever is needed for the smooth flow of daily life. Mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning etc.
And then at 3am in the morning, I see the peacefully snuggled little body beside me and feel fortunate and thankful for having what I do. Despite the sleepless nights, despite the shouting and despite all that I had to give up. This, I realize time and again, is so worth it. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Actually, I would probably do the sleep training thing a little differently, I guess.
Every child is different. Their needs are different. And so is every mother’s. There is no ‘one solution for all’.
Breastfeeding is an emotional attachment for both, mother and the baby. I am not saying that you cannot have an emotional attachment if you don’t or can’t breastfeed. But once you start feeding, you realize that it is a completely different experience. It is so different, that I have nothing else to compare it to. It belongs right there in the league of baby experiences like baby movements inside the belly and giving birth. They just cannot be described and cannot be compared to anything else. Not even to each other.
After Baby A’s birth I realized that the her nutrition will solely depend on the quality of milk that my body produces. And that scared me. To add to my worries, Baby A lost a lot of weight in the first week looking a lot thinner. PND (Post natal depression) is a real thing and people visiting to see the baby can’t seem to shut up about how the baby is a lot thinner. It did not help at all. I snapped at anyone who tried to comment on the baby. I felt like I was being attacked and criticized, when I myself was trying to get a grip on reality.
Like most mothers, I too had problems with latching initially. I would grit my teeth through the pain, while she suckled and just hoped I was making enough milk for her. Soon, Baby A championed breast feeding. She started loving it and I started getting bored of it. I had to lie down for more than half an hour for single feed. It was difficult at times, frustrating even. But I knew she needed it. I didn’t really want to introduce formula at this point. Then I got a brilliant idea of pumping. It took a long time before I got to know how to really do it.
I pumped milk for her to drink when we went out. I used Avent manual pump and used it every morning after her first feed. I fed her on one breast and pumped from the other.
Baby A is now 2 and half years and she was completely weaned at around 20 months old. She drinks around 200 ml of full cream milk, but truly I don’t mind if she drinks any less as she is a good eater. It took me more than the time I thought it would take, to wean her completely off breast milk. She easily gave up her day time feeds. She liked eating her semi solids and fruits/veggies. I worked through cutting one milk feed at a time till she was comfortable with solid food.
At night, however, it was a struggle. I would be up all night trying to sway or rock her to sleep because I didn’t want to put her on the breast. I thought and read about it all the time. It was an all consuming thing in my life at that time. I had started feeling like I need my body back, all of it. And as a one year old she was ready for night weaning. Or so I thought. And this is where I went wrong.
I need to record this so I can remember it, the effort that went into it. Also, if like me, you too are this short of pulling your hair out, just know that ‘this too shall pass’. It is just a phase and like me, you too will figure it out in the end.
Be patient, don’t hurry
I had decided, even before Baby A was born, that I will breastfeed her for one full year. Once she was a year old, it took me a while to get it into my mind that soon she would stop breastfeeding. However, it is not a switch that you could just switch off at your time of convenience. It is a bond. The baby uses feed times not only to feed but also for comfort and security.
Be perceptive of your baby’s needs
See for signs that your baby is ready or not to be weaned. I got my signs early on when I started introducing semi solids that she is happy to try new foods during the day. But weaning during day is not equal to weaning during night. Her needs were different at night time. She woke up 5-6 times a night when I refused to feed her. In the end I had to put her to breast to get some sleep myself. She wasn’t ready to give up milk at night time and I didn’t want to introduce bottle as she was old enough to skip the bottle altogether.
I know it is easier said than done, but trust me, it does nothing good to your health or life in any way. If it is not happening despite your patient efforts then let it be. Keep your efforts but don’t think about it all the time.
Initially I tried too hard to make it fast, so I can be completely free of having to breastfeed and so she doesn’t have to depend on me for her sleep. I know it is a bad habit that I made way for, but it was working well for both of us. But later when it was time to stop, or so I thought, she just didn’t get the message. It was useless of me to overthink it. I just held on until the time was right.
Don’t give up trying. Keep your efforts going and at the same time try to talk to the baby during day time that she needs to sleep without milk at night. Try to use a different method to put the baby back to bed without feeding, just as long as you can. When you feel like you are too tired, just give it a break for few days and then try again. She will ultimately get the message.
I had to go cold turkey after a bout of illness during which I nursed her through the night. All the sleeplessness had taken a toll on me and I decided this is it. If this doesn’t work then I’ll try again after a few days. But thankfully it worked. I just said no more milk and put her back in her cot n patted her to sleep. And it worked. She stopped asking after three days.
Don’t fret if it isn’t working out right now. It will happen, when the time is right for the both of you. Just make sure not to take out your frustration on the baby. Happy weaning.