Postpartum depression and challenges

In one of our last posts under the maternity category, we listed baby-related activities including feeding, burping, and sleeping. In reality, the childbirth experience has great many dimensions. There are so many different angles of this experience that it is difficult to explain. It is most certainly like trying to understand what an elephant looks like only by touching parts of it. In this post, I (mom) will be describing a few missing pieces that are tied to a crucial element. Guess what? It is postpartum depression. Yes, it is a real thing. 🙁

Childbearing is one event, childbirth is another story, and having the child outside is a whole another realm. Dear Son decided not to lower his head, so I (mom) had a C-Section. There were a lot of needle poking, drugs, numbness, excitement, exhaustion, etc. involved.

Delivery, whether normal or C-section, is an exhausting physical and emotional experience. It took me close to four months to be back to my physical condition. The time during pregnancy was easier to me than the aftermath of childbirth. The body needs time to heal. It needs time to bring all the chemicals down to a normal level. On the physical side, everyone has their own speed of recovery. Much to my dismay, my body decided to follow a turtle’s pace when it came to recovery.

My two cents regarding recovery would be, if painkillers were needed, I would take them regularly; I would have some kind of reminder set up. Faired up pain reminded me that I forgot to take painkillers, not the best kind of reminder. Keeping track of time in the first few days (after the hospital) could be difficult. Also, taking some sort of fiber supplement would be a good idea when taking painkillers. High dosage of painkillers can cause severe constipation. No mom would like to go through an added pain after childbirth.

I was lethargic. I would skip meals, not sleep when I had a chance. The experience can be emotionally a roller-coaster ride. At one moment it felt like we have everything under control, we knew what we were doing. It’s a tiny baby, how difficult is it going to be? The next moment would be an utter chaos; we had no clue what we were dealing with. Everyone’s advice, which is a good one, was to eat and take rest – whenever possible, even if I didn’t feel like it. Physical weakness added more to the exhaustion. Thus, looking back, I feel that proper nutrition and rest can help regain enough strength to enjoy the journey. Having a social life that involves family and friends can help a lot too.

Breastfeeding was a long journey, full of stress that I decided to take on me. I had this expectation of solely breastfeeding the baby, and the misconception that the failure to do so would mean I am an incapable mom. It felt like a test in which I must secure perfect score. Looking back, it is sometimes so unrealistic and unnecessary that I do not even want to explain the expectation further. Maybe someday I will write more about the breastfeeding experience. However, one piece of information I would like to share now is that during the entire time I breastfed, which is a little over three years, I kept taking those prenatal vitamins – as my doctor recommended it.

It is recommended that breastfeeding moms eat a variety of food. Babies can taste the food through the milk. When the baby grows up, parents have a better luck introducing new food (of course, fingers crossed). I was a bit cautious about not eating too much gassy food for example, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. We noticed that Dear Son faced gas issues when I ate these food items. Despite the postpartum depression, I was cautious in maintaining as much healthy diet as possible.

Dear Husband loves to cook. I did not worry about cooking a few months after Dear Son was born. I was anemic after childbirth. Fatigue is sometimes related to anemia. Dear Husband cooked iron-heavy food for me to help increase my hemoglobin count. I specially remember the beef stew with beef bones in the cold months of December and January. Such good times. 🙂

I was given prescribed lightweight med for depression but I decided not to take them. Since Dear Son was born a bit early and we just moved to a new town, things did not go as planned. In a new city, without any family or friends, with a newborn, it was not the easiest of ride. I felt like the situation was tough on us and the reasons for concerns that were stressing me out were indeed valid reasons. As weeks went by, I started lowering my imaginary bars, accepted failures with a bit more grace, and the pieces of the puzzle started to fall in place. There were more room for flexibility and I didn’t have to know all the answer for all the scenarios.

My In-laws and parents were able to manage to come months later given that Dear Son came early. With them, I had lot more room for sharing my experience (read, concern), which eased the depression a lot. I do feel, having family and/or friends can make a huge difference during this time, assuming that we are in contact with them to share our experience – much of which, in the first few weeks are rather concerns for first time parents. As we became skillful with our childrearing skills, my confidence on our ability to bring up a happy and healthy baby grew. These skills take time to develop. In the age of instant gratification, time is a novelty. I learned to be patient, or should I say, I am still learning. 🙂

So long for now. Live long and have patience. 🙂

Settle in El Paso



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