What it feels like to have PPD.

Trizah was washing her baby’s clothes when she felt a sharp pain in her tummy. She knew it was time. The baby was knocking on her cervix, ready to get out of the amniotic world to the real world.

It would be her first time to bring forth new life so she had been excited all the nine months. Better still, the news of her pregnancy had even strengthened the marriage between her and her husband Gideon.

Trizah’s neighbour noticed the wince of pain that she showed when hanging her clothes. She guessed it was already time too.

“Should we get going?” She asked animatedly and even got more excited when Trizah nodded her head.

Winnie rushed to the house quickly picked her phone and made the call that Gideon had been waiting for eagerly. His wife had told him she would give birth any time then.

He was grateful this happened on a Saturday afternoon, when he was not at the bank. The call made him leave his friends disappointed, he had promised to pay the first round but they had only taken the first sip before the call came. He was glad again that he had not been inebriated yet.

The contractions were getting closer and stronger as he drove her to the hospital. The doctors and nurses were quick to serve her but their reactions when they gave a quick check on her tummy made both Trizah and Gideon panic.

“Theatre, quick!” One of the doctors said.

Trizah and Gideon frantically asked questions about what was going on.

“Your baby is in a breech position. It will be very risky to deliver it normally. You will have to undergo a Caesarean Section Delivery.” A kind nurse explained with lots of assurances that all would go well. So Gideon waited outside the theatre room as his wife delivered the baby girl.

He imagined seeing her emerging through the operation doors, holding their little angel , smiling at him as she was being wheeled to the ward but he was met with a completely different scenario.

It was a feeling that Trizah could not comprehend. It started immediately after the operation. The doctors wowed on her daughter’s beauty but all Trizah wanted to do was sleep. She refused to hold her little baby. “Later!” She said. When she saw her husband, she closed her eyes in feigned sleep, not wanting to speak to him.

“Sometimes after an operation, the patient might feel very tired. Just give her time and all shall be well.” Trizah heard the doctor telling her husband.

It was a new experience that Trizah had not expected. It was not as blissful as she had expected. Instead of the delightful feeling she had anticipated, all Trizah felt was pain.

First, was the pain on her scar, she could not even wake herself from bed. Going to the toilet was a nightmare for her. Then there was the excrutiating pain on her nipples everytime the baby sucked on them.

This she told the doctors and nurses.

“It gets better with time.” All of them said.

Trizah could not explain the other pain because it wasn’t easy to interprete it to someone. She just felt a pain, an emotional pain that made her feel bad for herself and her baby.

During the four days she was in hospital, Trizah loathed when people came to visit her. She just wished there was a way she could tell them off. As for her husband Gideon, Trizah knew she had to pull every fibre in her to match his glee .

“I have to go now hun,” He said as he kissed her forehead and the infant’s who was hungrily suckling on her left breast. “I can’t wait for my girls to be discharged tomorrow.” He said as he walked away.

Suddenly, tears were gushing out of Trizah’s eyes. Gideon was appalled. He ran back to his wife.

“Did I say something to upset you babe?”

Trizah was as startled as her husband. She did not undertsand herself either. One minute she wanted her husband far away from him, the next she did not want him to leave her side. She opened her arms to him and cried on his shoulders and only let go of him when the baby cooed for attention.

The next day, Trizah and her baby arrived home. They were welcomed by close friends and relatives, all enthused at the new born. She thought the inexplicable feeling would go away when she got home but it still lingered there.

Her mother-in-law had prepared some scrumptious looking meal. Trizah had no appetite but she smiled at all the efforts they made to make her feel comfortable yet in her mind she wondered how nice it would be if they took the baby and all left her in the quietude of her house.

Then she snapped.

The noise was too much, too many songs, too many hands wanting to hold her baby, too many prayers, too many questions. She could not have it anymore. She started to cry. Everyone was perturbed wondering what had hurt the new mother. Trizah realized she had directed all attention to herself. She rose up from her couch and limped quickly to the bedroom, banging it forcefully behind her.

“Maybe the scar is still aching.” Her mother-in-law said in pity.

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“That is true. It’s the scar. Healing from an operation is a slow painful process. Look, she left me with the baby who looks hungry already.” Trizah’s sister said.

“Take the baby to the mother. When she sees her baby, she might feel better.” A relative suggested and Trizah’s sister heeded to her advice, so she went and knocked on the door. Ten minutes later, Trizah opened the door. Her husband and sister were standing by the door. Her eyes were puffy red.

Trizah regretted as soon as she closed the door on the faces of her sister and husband. Her baby started to cry louder. She ran back to the door and opened it then pulled her sister on and closed the door on her husband’s face again.

“Babe, are you alright?” Gideon asked as Trizah grabbed the baby and closed the door behind her. Gideon and his sister-in-law stared at each other, completely dazed.

Gideon was starting to get tired of these embarrassments. He wondered why his wife was always sulky when she had been the one who was so eager to have this baby. He did not know why she showed too much bitterness towards him. Thinking it was better if he escaped her unexplained anger towards him, he decided to spent more time with his friends than in the house.

Trizah was having a hard time. She was angry most of the time. Her sister had never seen this side of Trizah. Nothing seemed to please her. She cried at every small provocation. It was time to tell their mother.

“Mum, I am telling you she is so different, she refuses to take a bath yet her clothes reek of sweat, blood and baby puke.”

“Maybe her scar has complications.”

“No mum, she has a neighbour friend who works as a nurse , she came the other day and observed the scar and said it was healing as it is supposed to.”

Trizah’s mother and sister finally concluded that she had been possessed. There was no other explanation. So her mother and five friends took the long journey from the village to pray for her.

Trizah just sat on the sofa, holding her sleeping baby to her bosom as the women chanted intercessions for her. She struggled to keep her eyes open but sleep overcame her.

“Amen!Amen! Amen!” She bellowed as she woke up startled and flustered. The six women who thought the demons in Trizah would attack them ran out.

Trizah took her baby and went to lock herself in her bedroom. She knew that her mother and friends thought she was going insane. She had been amused but had decided to let them exorcise her because she herself could not even tell what was ailing her. “I could be mad for all I know.” She sighed.

The feelings were getting worse. Nobody around her seemed to get her. To add salt to an open wound, her daughter was not making it any easier. Little Diane had strong lungs that she loved to show off only at night. This made Trizah’s sleep debt rather huge since no matter how much she endeavoured to sleep during the day with Diane, something came up, like an excited visitor eager to see the baby.

Other times her neighbour Winnie would come knocking. Winnie and Trizah’s sister clicked quickly like a house on fire and they barely noticed that Trizah rarely contributed to their stories. They would chat on and on and everytime she dozed off, they would nudge her to wake up and chip in to their stories.

“You are too quiet Trizah. Cheer up siz!”

“Yes cheer up friend. Remember how easy it was for me when I gave birth to my son?”

And they continued to chatter when all Trizah did was plant a smile on her face.

Now in her bedroom, she stared at Diane who peacefully slept next to her. She remembered the previous night how obstinate the baby had been.

Trizah had sang lullabies, walked around the bedroom dancing with Diane. Gideon had woken up from his drunken sleep.

“Is she sick?” He asked in slurred words.

“I doubt so. I read somewhere that babies who wake at night and sleep during the day haven’t known the difference yet between day and night. Maybe if you help me…” She looked at him and realized she could as well have been speaking to a stone. Gideon had slipped back to slumberland and was now snoring piggishly.

Her sister in the other room always slept like a log. She always joked that one could easily take her to the middle of the ocean without her notice while she was asleep.

Trizah’s frustrations were piling up one by one. She was slumped in deep dejection and no one cared to notice. It was as if they hated her.

She started to hear voices in her head, laughing at her. Trizah walked to the mirror and stared at her reflection. It was a horrific state. Her hair was unkempt, her eyes red-rimmed, her pyjama top leaking of breast milk while her trousers showed blood stains.

“No wonder Gideon cannot stand me!” She wept as she leaned on the mirror. Trizah could not even tell the last time her husband made love to her or even touched her. Voices told her she was too ugly.

As Trizah gaped at herself , the baby started to cry. “You are also a bad mother!” The voices continued. They were loud, brutal and candid.

“Aaargh!” She screamt. The cry of the baby was sickening. She ran to it and held it by the shoulders.

“Why are you doing this to me?Why? What did I ever do to you?” All this time she was shaking the baby violently. She dropped the baby on the bed and went and sat at the corner of the room, cuddled herself and started to cry. Then she realized that her baby was quiet.

“Oh No, I have killed Baby Diane. I am a murderer!” She was running to the bathroom now, distraught with apprehension and guilt. She took a razor blade and cut her wrists up, weeping quietly cursing herself for killing her child.

That day Gideon felt a preternatural urge to go home. Hanging out with his friends did not seem as enticing. He drove to his house, his head with a banging headache. As soon as he arrived, he jumped out and even forgot to close the car door.

He felt his heart drop in his stomach when he saw his wife, her hands bleeding, her body lying on the bathroom floor unmoving. He went back to the bed and touched his daughter’s forehead. He had thought she had been asleep.

“Oh My! Sarah!” He called out to his sister-in-law who was still chatting at the balcony with Winnie.

Both mother and child still had a pulse. Sarah and Gideon hoped against hope that they would survive. Gideon had never driven so madly his entire life.

Hours later, the doctor appeared from a door Gideon and Sarah kept gazing at, in anticipation. They ran to her, their hearts pounding so hard they thought their chests would burst.

“It’s all good news.” That was enough news to Gideon who had thought he lost the two most precious persons in his life.

“The little one is stable. There is no sign of head trauma although we will keep observing her. She is now asleep after taking some ounces of formula milk. As for your wife, though she lost a lot of blood, she is also stable.

Gathering from what you told us earlier about her recent behaviour since the birth of her child Trizah is suffering from Post Partum Depression.

We will recommend some medications and therapy for her but you also need to provide an environment for her to heal faster.”

The two were keen when the doctor lectured on helping Trizah on her road to recovery and she did recover finally! And Little Diane, she is like a beautiful butterfly now, all grown and playful.

So the next time, someone close to you gives birth, be the best support system. Do not assume they are all good and ready to take on motherhood. Listen to them, take them out for some fresh air and help with the baby. Be REALLY there. Post Partum Depression is real.

2 comments

  1. Wow, PPD is rarely discussed, most people don’t even know what it is!
    Thanks for the read, really insightful.
    And keep writing.

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