When I was pregnant with the twins, I started getting premature contractions sometime around the 24th or 26th week of pregnancy. Upon the doctor’s recommendation and after discussing things over with DH, I decided to stop working so that I could rest at home.
After giving birth to the twins, I also took a year off from work to take care of them, as I only had one maid at that time. It’s not easy to get a maid in Malaysia, as the paperwork and the government approval can be quite a hassle. Not to mention costly, too.
Looking back now, I believe I went through a serious case of post-partum depression. Only I didn’t know it back then. I was neck-deep in feelings of helplessness and despair, having occasional bursts of crying for no apparent reason. I merely attributed my see-sawing emotions to the fatigue and overall lack of sleep that one gets from having to breastfeed two babies…and caring for their three older siblings, who were competing for attention with the latest additions to the family.
You know what helped me a lot? ‘Tending Violet’, the journal of then first-time mom, Joyce Lollar, which chronicled her weekly challenges of caring for a baby. There was one particular entry that made me cry: ‘Week 10: So lonely I could die‘, where she spoke about her feelings of loneliness and her desperate need to talk to another adult about anything under the sun that does not involve diapers, burping or babies.
After reading that entry, I cried because I felt relief. I cried because it felt good to know that I wasn’t alone. I cried because then I knew that I wasn’t going crazy. I cried because Joyce gave me hope that, like her, I could overcome that difficult phase in my life without seeing a shrink or taking any medication.
So if you’ve just had a baby and you’re feeling down, I’d like you to know that you’re not alone. And remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. Surround yourself with family and friends. Revel in the delicious scent of your newborn baby. Enjoy those tiny little fingers and toes while they’re still tiny. Keep yourself busy. Avoid being alone too long. But do make it a point to have some time for yourself each day, even for just 10 minutes to take a shower just so you’ll feel human again. Treat yourself to some chocolate every once in a while. Get a back rub or a foot massage. Listen to music. Read. Think positive thoughts. And above all, pray.
If you don’t have a baby yet but plan on having one in the near future, don’t worry about post-partum depression because does not necessarily happen to everyone. I’ve had three babies before the twins and I was okay. But if you do get it, then please refer to the paragraph above ;)
And Joyce Lollar — wherever you are now — thank you!!!