Be strong enough to stand alone,
Smart Enough to know when you need help
and strong enough to ask for it.
I pride myself in being self aware. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I am quick to identify when I am failing and falling. I am quick to realize when my current course is not productive and quick to stop, rethink, re-group and act.
However, one day when my baby was four weeks, I just crashed. I remember, I was having difficulty getting sleep. You know, despite having what I consider perfect maternity healthcare here in Qatar (I mean I paid an equivalent of only 6,000/- Kenya Shillings for normal delivery including an epidural and 2 nights stay in hospital and a baby in NICU for 3 days free of charge) , the maternity leave is only 50 calendar days.I started panicking because 28 days had already elapsed. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I had envisioned myself pumping the excess and having a stash for the baby. I had planned to pump every three hours, night and day.
On this particular night, I just wanted to sleep. I was overcome by emotion as I woke up to pick my pump and I just sat on the floor and cried.I remember telling God, “I cannot do this. You have to help me”. Quint, my husband, was trying to sleep because he had duty the next day. I think he heard me, he woke up and told me, “Mama, please get some sleep. The baby needs you rested.” That night I slept.
When I woke up, I tried to do my normal self analysis where I have a candid talk with myself in a bid to try and gauge how I am feeling. I struggled. I check on baby center about post partum depression and they had a test and as I answered yes and yes to more and more of the questions, it hit me that baby blues had struck. I had heard about it, but I had not thought it would ever affect me. I was sure that I loved my baby (because the much I had heard about PPD was that mum’s hated their children) so why was this happening to me. I knew I was crashing and I needed help. When I tried to pray, only tears would roll down my cheeks and the only thing I could say to God was, HELP ME!
Did it work?
Yes it worked. I realized that as a mother I have a fear of failing. Especially failing my children. I realized that I stopped being kind and gracious with myself and did not extend the care I was giving Princess to myself. Whereas I made sure she ate and slept and played and rested. I did not do the same. I also failed to tell myself that I am the best mother my children would ever have. I kept comparing myself to other mothers who portrayed that they had it all together. Sometimes, I still do. I joined enough groups looking for support, just for someone to say, ” Relax mama, you are doing great!” and when a stranger on a Facebook group said it, it still did not feel enough, until I started saying it to myself.
What about feeding the baby?
Many women shy from being honest about their decision concerning how they choose to feed their babies. Many of us feel judged (even when no one has told us upfront). My plans went on as I wanted for a while. I managed to have a frozen breast milk stash that saw us till baby was 3 and a half months. I started supplementing with formula but still kept pumping and breastfeeding on demand. Pumping at work remains a challenge however, my colleague told me that I could pump in the women’s prayer room for privacy.
What else helped me deal with baby blues?
Another significant change that came with my Princess that I added weight. I ain’t mad! However I was still holding on to my tiny clothes! This made it harder for me to be myself. Imagine trying to find something to wear among stuff that do not fit! Unnecessary pressure! My hair. Oh My gorgeous hair! I cut it. It started shedding thus making wash-days unbearable. I miss my hair but the freedom I felt after….is worth it!
Last but definitely not least, falling in love with myself was the best thing ever! I just took time to find myself and what lit me up. I surrounded myself with people who genuinely cared about me. My friends love me! They picked up my calls just to listen to me cry, then we hang up and I felt good! I also went back on YouTube and filmed this video that you can enjoy here!
I hope this was helpful. If you know a new mom, regardless of how many years of experience she has, do not assume they are OK. Baby blues can happen to the best of us. Call, Text, visit. Remember the magic words, Relax mama, You are doing a great job.
Lots of Love,