My battle with postpartum depression

By MARY KAMANU | Thursday, Apr 23rd 2020 at 12:11
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This is depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue. It can occur soon after delivery and can even last up to a year or longer.

Each time I come across a topic concerning postpartum depression, it makes me so emotional, almost feeling like tearing up. 28th October 2018 Midnight is the day I gave birth to my little girl. Two days prior, I walked myself into my hospital of choice accompanied by my husband and a friend, and I was booked in the hospital, and the doctor told me I would spend the night in the hospital. The doctors did lots of examinations on me. They monitored me, and unfortunately, they noted some complications, and I had to be transferred to a more equipped hospital facility to undergo a surgical delivery. A discharge sheet and a transfer letter was handed to us, and off we went.

Upon reaching the hospital, I had to undergo some more examinations before I could be booked in for the surgery. I was in so much pain, tired, and, at the same time, scared, but I had to be strong for my unborn baby. The anxiety was so much for me, especially being a first-time mother. A few hours later, my name was called and was taken for surgery. I was given epidural anesthesia aimed at blocking the nerve impulses from the lower spinal segments. This results in decreased sensation in the lower half of the body. After a few hours, the doctors were done with the procedure, and I was handed over my baby. I was happy that both the baby and I were safe. I was later transferred to my ward, where one is supposed to stay for a minimum of three days before being discharged to go home. Usually, for most mothers, it takes three days for a mother to start producing milk. Unfortunately, that was never the case for me, day two, and there was no milk being produced. That same day I noted that my baby's eyes had this yellowish color, which was not there when she was born. I became worried and thought to myself, could this be jaundice? But again, I am a first-time mum. I am just paranoid; the baby is fine. I concluded to myself. On the third day, I was happy that finally, we were going home. It was a routine that every morning, doctors would make rounds in the wards to check on the babies. That morning my worst fears were confirmed. My little baby had jaundice, and she had to be taken to the nursery and be put in a phototherapy machine so as to reduce the bilirubin levels. The news made me so devastated. I called my husband and gave him the news; I could hardly hold myself together. I felt confused; I was never prepared for this.

I spent most of my time in the neonatal, I could hardly sleep during the night, and when I tried to sleep, I could feel my heart beating so fast, and my whole body would start to swell I was scared that if slept I could never wake up again. I didn't know who to talk to or how I could explain the way I was feeling I remember calling one of the doctors and explained to her what was going on with me, she checked my blood pressure, and they were normal. How else could I explain what was happening to me? My husband and brother-in-law were the only I had who would visit in the hospital. My mum heard I had undergone a C-section she traveled all the way from upcountry to come to pay me a visit. I started feeling more sick as the days went by. I was having severe headaches, and my vision had become blurry. I could hardly see, the heartbeats were becoming too much. I decided to open up to one of the patients; we were in the same ward. I said to her, "Woi aki Mimi naskia vibaya sana tafadhali enda ita Daktari - I am not feeling good kingly go call the doctor for me." She held my hand and told me to try and be strong that she would hold on me and take me to the nurse's desk. I obliged and stood up, but I never made it to the nurses' desk. I fell down and started having convulsions. After a few hours, I gained consciousness, but I could not remember anything. My whole body was swollen, especially my face. I remember one of the doctors asking me if that's usually how I looked. The only thing I could remember amidst all that was my baby. On top of me not having milk to breastfeed my baby, I had to deal with my body feeling all sick. My husband had to take me to see the baby in the neonatal in a wheelchair. I could not walk. A week later, my baby had improved, and it was time to go home, I was not okay, but my mum kept telling me that the hospital environment was not okay that I had to go home and get better from there.

My mum kept me company for a few days, but unfortunately, she had to go back to the village. I remember crying so hard and begging her not to leave. I asked her how she could leave me in such a condition I have no helper; my husband has to go to work he can't stay with me at home, what will happen to me. She felt sorry for me and stayed for a week.

Finally, she left, and it was just my husband and me. My baby would cry so much during the day and during the night. The crying was becoming too much for me; the headaches became worse; I even went for a CT-Scan to check if I was hokey. The worst had not happened. I started having hallucinations during the night. My husband would wake me up and tell me to pick the baby that shes crying only for me to see myself holding another baby, and I would tell him, let me finish breastfeeding the other one then will pick her up he didn't know what was happening. He would then ask me which the other baby was? That's when I would come back to my senses.

I remember telling one of my friends who had visited at the time that I kept thinking I had given birth to twins. But she kept assuring me that if I had twins, my scan would have shown. I decided to believe her, but the hallucinations were so real that I would wish to think otherwise. I was not well; I needed answers to what was happening to me. I was a totally different person; I could barely recognize myself. I kept asking myself what it meant being a mother, was I ever going to get my old self back. Someone just needed to come to my rescue else I would lose my sanity. I went online and looked for information about PPD, the causes, and how to overcome it. Firstly, my husband and I decided to get a helper who would help me with chores around the house. This was of so much help to me since my only focus became now on the baby and myself. I later found out on ways to increase milk production, and the most effective way was by taking Motilium tablets, which helps to increase the production of milk. For me having people to talk to and someone to help around the house was my medicine to fight PPD.

It is sad that most women suffer postpartum depression without even knowing it. It is proven that most women who suffer PPD are likely to suffer other kinds of depression later in the future. But with lots of care and the right treatment, it's easy to fight and overcome it.

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