Pictures do not say it all. Looking at my pictures you may think that mine was a happy pregnancy and a perfect delivery and everything was a perfect little dream-come-true. It was actually far from it. I had suffered from a severe prenatal depression in my last trimester and an equally severe postpartum depression after the birth.
It took me a long long time to come back to normal and start living life normally. It took me even longer to actually come to write about it. Yes, there is no need to be ashamed of it. It can happen to any woman on this planet and it comes without a due notice and we are far from being prepared to face it.
Knowledge is wealth and I thought I should provide awareness about PPD ( Postpartum Depression ).
All was well until my 7th month started. I was working in Johannesburg , South Africa, and didn’t have any problems. I moved back to India during the same time to rest at home and give birth in Hyderabad. Ravi came just to drop me back home, had a brief holiday and went back to wind up things at Joburg.
I thought this phase would be the most relaxing time of all and was really excited. But the travel from Johannesburg to Hyderabad left me with swollen feet and a tiredness which didn’t go away for as long as a month after that. Even my swollen feet took a lot of time to get back to normal. And it is when I was staying at my home in Hyderabad, that depression set in.
It started with lack of sleep and a frustrated mind as to why I am not able to sleep. I was bored at home and didn’t have anything to do. I couldn’t travel outside, because I didn’t know driving and the weather change between Joburg and Hyderabad traffic left me nauseated. It was better to sit at home rather than travel outside with all the pollution and traffic. And above all, you know what elders say , you are pregnant so don’t do anything without out help. My stamina kept decreasing and so did my appetite. But I thought it was all normal and definitely hormonal. Yes, it was hormonal , but it was not normal and I realised this only in my 8th month.
It was the first case of PPD in my family and nobody knew about it. I started imagining all kinds of things and was not happy about it. I always felt that, whatever came into my mind didn’t at all leave me and it only started creating deep impact and craters in my mind. The ability to control my thoughts was absolutely gone. I felt that my mind was not in my control anymore. I felt that I was some other person and this person is not me. I felt that something was happening to me and I am not able to stop it.
Lack of sleep, lack of appetite, restlessness , no peace of mind and always sad about something which I was not able to apprehend properly. I also had insecure feelings about staying away from my husband and when it was un-bearable, I contacted my doctor and told her briefly about my situation. It was not only psychological and emotional; it was physical too. I had nervous weakness in my hands and legs, and I was not able to stand and do things properly sometimes. I never felt like waking up from the bed and do something to kill the boredom.
In our society, giving birth to a child and all the pregnancy and delivery phases of life are supposed to be “happy” things. And if that experience differs, nobody talks about it. It is all hushed up and the fear of the society seeing you as a “bechara” makes us hide things. But I did no such thing and walked straight into my doctor’s office and spoke to her. My scared mother accompanied me. I am thankful she did.
May be the doctor knew already and was suspecting the worst. But she was kind to me and comforted me with her words. She appreciated my outward thinking and the boldness I had to come and talk to her. Because, she said, most women wouldn’t do it. She told me that PPD is a spectrum kind of a thing and almost 80% of pregnant women experience it but at different levels. Some are tolerable and some are not. But mostly, women don’t express it to the gyneac or the midwife. So most of the society doesn’t know what’s happening on the inside.
My mother was totally unprepared to face all this. And she never felt or knew that all this was due to hormonal changes or due to changes in pregnancy. She thought I was saying and thinking about issues purposely. She was scared with the way I was thinking and manifesting things in my mind and her being scared, made me even more timid and frustrated as to why I was like that.
After going to the doctor, we concluded that it might be the mood swings and depression kinds and was normal and a part of pregnancy sometimes. This comforted my parents and husband… but not me. Because I was still suffering.
I wanted to be happy and welcome my little child. And the fact that some other things were taking precedence over it made me guilty and that guilt started killing me from inside. I couldn’t ignore it and as it was physical too, I was even more scared as to how I would be able to take care of my baby if I was not even able to walk properly and do things normally. It was pure hell. Ravi pre-poned his trip and returned early. But no matter who was beside me and what they had to say to me, the suffering didn’t go away. I had erratic fears over silly and it scared the hell out of me.I had frequent fear and panic attacks. My brain would be blank and cold for a few minutes. I knew that my family was putting a brave face outside but were equally concerned and scared from the inside.
Finally after I gave birth, I wasn’t scared of anything in my life , except the “thing” that I was going through. I gave birth normally and very boldly. Because I wasn’t scared anymore. I had something else to be worried about. Physically , mine was the perfect delivery that anyone would want. Not a single medicine given to my body and not a single prick from the midwives. But psychologically, I was somewhere else. Nothing gave me happiness, expect for pure and intense sense of care towards my child. I took care of her to the core. May be the guilt that built up inside was coming out in this way. My physical and psychological symptoms remained, even after delivery and doctor suggested me to a clinical psychologist. She spoke to another lady who gave birth in the same center and also a psychologist. Unfortunately, she was out of town ,so she referred me doctor, an elderly man.
I was breastfeeding and my body was in the process of healing. But I had to go to consult him. He listened to me and referred me to take some tests. Not lab tests. Some written tests (I thought they were like some tests to determine my concentration and mind body co-ordination ) which took a lot of time. I had to leave my baby in the car and go to take the tests, occasionally coming back to feed her. There is a phrase in telugu……….. “ Idemi kharmamooo” anipinchindi. I don’t know about the cure, but the visit to the doctor itself can make you feel so low and less of confidence , as to something is seriously wrong with you and you need somebody’s help to fix it.
It made me feel terrible. Finally, he told me that, I didn’t have any previous mental disorders and this was something that had popped up only in and around pregnancy and hence will be termed as “Post Partum Depression”. He gave me 2 sessions of relaxing my muscles as I was constantly complaining about the nervous weakness in my hands and legs.
I almost begged him to give me a medicine to calm me down and make me peaceful. But he denied it as I was breastfeeding. He said, treat it as a punishment from God and bear it for 6 months. My duty as a mother was more important than what I was going through and he asked me to come back after 6 months, if I felt it didn’t go away.
Editor’s note: Birth India would like you to know that this is an unacceptable response from a medical professional. There are breastfeeding friendly medications available and 6 months is much too long for a follow up appointment. Please be aware that PPD can, on occasions escalate into psychotic incidences, resulting in physical harm or at worst suicide. If in doubt do not leave someone alone with worrying symptoms. As the author of this blog stated her thoughts were out of control. Competent medical attention, therapy and a healthy support system is what is needed for recovery. Do seek a second opinion if you are not satisfied with your care provider.
Birth India is here to support you if doctors behave and treat you like this, as this is a violation of human rights.
He told us a lot of things. He said that, in pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a lot of changes. Some are physical and some are psychological. Some are good and some are bad. Now, we the people , miss the bad part. We always think that having a baby only brings joy to us. Ofcourse it is a happy thing………. But it doesn’t always bring joy to us. It also makes us nervous, and all the emotions around taking responsibility and doing our part correctly. So , “pregnancy and delivery is a happy thing” is highly overrated. It can be the opposite also and there is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes, the wiring in the brain changes permanently because of pregnancy, he said.
And I am unfortunate that I have had the bad effects of pregnancy. Having a baby is a very big change in life and different people react in different ways to it, consciously sometimes and sub-consciously sometimes. Nothing is wrong or right in it. And if the pressure on the brain becomes un-bearable, then it translates into physical symptoms like the ones I had. In the spectrum of PPD, may be I fell into a “more and intense” scale. It happens to everybody and not everybody are vocal enough to go to a doc and express that something is wrong. Because, we are bound by families and society. And this insecurity and the “unhappy” part are buried under the name of society and the family’s name in the society.
It took me a year and half after delivery to completely come back to normal. And I didn’t take any medicines. It was long, hard and a challenging journey and at the end of it, I guess I have turned out to be a lot tougher than before. I was skeptical about writing this post from a long time. But finally could muster the courage to put it in words and provide awareness to others. PPD in a severe way happens only to a very few people. But we must be prepared to face it 🙂
About the Author: Purna Koumudi Vogeti
I am a working as a Software Professional in the IT Industry. Living in Johannesburg , South Africa from 2009.
My interests include arts and music. I love blogging. Please find below my blog link. http://koumudi.blogspot.com/
I would like to thank Dr Vijaya from Healthy Mother for helping me along my journey.