Being pregnant and giving birth to a child seems like the most beautiful experience in the world. And while it is, there are a few downside and hurdles that come with the same. Depression after having a baby or postpartum blues is something that is often experienced by women at the end of their pregnancy and the beginning of their baby’s life.
This not only ruins the mother’s life but also affects the relationship of the mother with her child. Bouts of insomnia and anxiety become an everyday thing when post pregnancy depression hits a woman. This persistent low mood does not make you a bad mother, but just a human one. Read the following account to understand more.
My Wife And Post Pregnancy Depression
I affectionately caressed Chloe’s cheeks as the child smiled in her sleep. My wife, Jean had left me with this precious gift: something to remember her by but also to keep racking my brains for an answer! An answer which I could not stop pondering upon but one that would also keep evading me.
Memories keep rushing into my head all the time, memories of the wonderful initial years and of course the horrors of her last few days when she was struck with depression after having a baby. I kept thinking about the past because making new memories was not an option now.
How I wish I could use a mouse to delete all the bad memories and unwanted images, but I do know I am not a computer but a flesh and blood human being, with feelings and emotions, joys and sorrows, hope and despair, but above all, a memory to last till eternity.
We had started dating in college and since our first date, I knew that I wanted Jean to be my significant other for the rest of my life. We found true love and marriage followed, our cozy nest became our entire world. We needed no one and no one seemed to need us either!
An occasional visit to and by both sets of parents was our only link to the outside world. Of course, we both had our teaching jobs which gave us our bread and butter but also a fulfilling lifestyle. She was an AP History professor for seniors at the local high school and I taught Algebra to freshmen.
How can I forget our first meeting in the University building corridor, her shy smile as a common friend introduced us! And then past and present coalesce as those two years rushed by, without a moment of doubt about our affection which grew into love even before we realized it! But things changed when it was time for the baby to come along. What is baby blues in a woman? I know first hand.
She was hit with depression after having a baby
When did our lives change? Can I find an exact moment, a specific event when I noticed a change, something to worry about? Jean was pregnant, I was a caring and good house husband in those days, waiting on her hand and foot, cooking, cleaning—I did it all! Her faraway look, her brushing away my affectionate hand on her shoulder, my loving embrace no longer welcome – I pushed it aside as I was sure that mind depression after birth that would wane with time.
Baby Chloe came into our world and I was on cloud nine but Jean … she was barely bothered about this little bundle! The doctor called me aside and explained ‘postpartum depression after birth’ to me. It seemed mumbo-jumbo to me at the time but I kept nodding my head as if I understood it all! I did learn that postpartum depression in women was common but did not want to accept that Jean was actually coping with depression. Yet, to be on the safe side, I requested her mom to move in with us and she reluctantly agreed.
As we were packing to leave for home from the hospital, Jean was in the washroom for way too long and I heard some commotion from downstairs. More interested in leaving for home, I called out to Jean, knocked at the door and finally pushed it open.
The empty bathroom flabbergasted me but by then there were a dozen people in the room—all jabbering in Latin it seemed to my confused mind! Jean had jumped from the window, with not a word to any of us! I looked at the wailing little baby she had given birth to—held her close and vowed to myself that I would be more than a mother to her!
Related Reading: I was so depressed I tried to commit suicide
I came home to an empty house full of memories
We came home—home seemed a misnomer, for it was Jean who had converted this brick and cement structure into our house, the safe haven that it used to be. Every inch of this place had memories: Near the kitchen counter she stood that day when she announced her pregnancy, across was the chair where I kissed her the first time in this house and the window where she waved out to me when I was leaving for St. Louis. We truly had the ultimate happy marriage.
I could go on and on about how my dearly beloved was taken from me because of depression after pregnancy! The worst thing is that we did not see it coming. We expected her to wrap her arms around Chloe, plant a kiss on her forehead and love her. I pulled myself together, I wanted positive vibrations around for my dear baby.
All this was five years ago and today I am proud of the way I have managed, pulled myself out of my sorrow, worked to provide a loving home for my baby, be both Mom and Dad to this little, innocent, helpless bundle of joy.
In the beginning it was hard because when I missed my wife, I seemed to sometimes blame Chloe for it. But I would quickly snap out of those negative thoughts that I had been harboring. My wife’s severe postpartum depression was not my sweet baby’s fault.
I’m trying my best for our baby
She became my reason for living, she became my anchor in reality, she pulled me out of any trace of dejection by her cherubic smile, she was both parent and child for me. Of course I missed Jean, I flogged myself for not realizing the seriousness of her post pregnancy depression. I envisaged various scenes of what could have been, ways to help a depressed wife etc. Our two mothers did their best to give me the physical help I needed to bring up a newborn baby.
Our Fight Against Severe Postpartum Depression
One thing I have come to realize is that my wife’s postpartum depression after birth was not just her fight, but has now become mine too. Being single and alone as a man, and raising a child on top of that has not been easy but has been a learning experience. Losing Jean did shatter my whole world but I am doing my best to be in a better place today for my dear daughter.
Today is Chloe’s fifth birthday and I can’t hold back my tears, a luxury I allow myself only when my little darling is fast asleep. The tears for what could have been, the tears for Jean and her unspoken pain of severe postpartum depression that none of us saw coming. But, as usual I brush away my tears, put the blanket on my sweet daughter, Chloe switch off the light and get into bed, for ‘Tomorrow is a new day’.
(As told to Indira Nityanandam)
This is a type of depression that is commonly seen in new mothers within the first year of after delivery of the baby. Most symptoms show immediately after childbirth. It is often caused by a sudden change in hormones after delivery, combined with stress, sleep deprivation and anxiety.
By enabling a decent and loving bonding process with the baby, post pregnancy depression can be avoided. Moreover, having a strong support system of family and a husband can help the same.
The hormone imbalance that comes after delivery should not last for more than 8 weeks.