This post has been in my draft so long I wasn’t sure if it would see daylight 😂. I’ve been writing this ever since I came back from my friend’s son aqiqah; when she posted a heart felt message just because I asked her how she was. I’ve been working on this ever since, I’ll add things here and there and leave it again. I guess it’s because it’s so personal I wasn’t ready myself to share it. But here it is.
I saw an insta post that other day stating that most mother’s commit suicide at 9-12 months postpartum. I was in the middle of something and didn’t save it and when I tried to look back for it I couldn’t find it.
So I googled hoping to find it again but found this instead.
Ultimately, they found that suicide accounted for 5.3% (51 of 966) of perinatal deaths, or approximately 1 out of every 19 deaths in pregnant or postpartum women during that time period. Perinatal women most frequently completed suicide at 9 to 12 months postpartum. Women who completed perinatal suicide were more likely to do so by lethal methods, like hanging, jumping, or falling, compared to women who completed suicide outside of the perinatal period. As expected, those women who completed suicide, either during or outside of the perinatal period, had higher rates of prior psychiatric illness compared to the control group of living perinatal women.
Not exactly the same as what I previously read but similar. I found it to be scary, and those horrifying stories about mothers killing their 1 year old came to my mind. I looked at Naia and coincidentally she’s been testing my patience and in that exact moment I understood. Astagafirullah.
Alhamdullilah I don’t have those thoughts at this point, but 10 we months ago? I did. Not exactly suicidal thoughts, but not exactly good either.
I never shared this story with anyone, not to my sisters, not to my mother, not even to my husband. Those thoughts and emotions was something that I solely kept to myself.
But I’d like to share my story today because I want to let you know that you’re not alone. We don’t discuss this things on a daily basis, and I think people that ends up suicidal or hurting their babies are because they didn’t have anyone to talk to and because they didn’t have support. And honestly I think this should change, we should be able to share what we’re going through without worrying what society says.
We should be able to open up, without being afraid that someone might call us crazy.
My postpartum depression wasn’t bad, heck if you look at me you would say I didn’t have it because I was fine.
Fine was looking at Naia and thinking to myself why do I not feel that gushing love people talk about. Fine was taking care of your baby and finally being able to understand why people hurt their babies. Fine being crying to myself at night because I was tired and feeling helpless. Fine being crying over and over because pumping and breastfeeding hurts. Fine being crying (again) because Mum cleaned the fridge and turned it off and me scared of my hard work of getting a stash goes to waste. A lot of emotional breakdown there.
That is not fine.
Did my family member’s not notice this if there was a lot of crying? No. Because I would do it silently. Afraid of what they might think. THIS. This exact reason of hiding and not telling and putting up a front is why some mothers go “amuk”.
Suddenly out of the blue, she was a good mother, attentive, something along these lines is what you would always read in the news. Its not suddenly, its prolonged emotions that was never shared and buried by the mother itself. And because the mother would always put up a front is why its often not caught by family members.
There was one night, I can’t remember when and how old Naia was but definitely the first few days or weeks. She just finished latching and was asleep so she was still in my arms. I looked at her and was trying to feel that unconditional love you always hear people talk about when you look at your newborn baby. I was trying to soak up in all that cuteness and love a newborn can offer. But I couldn’t feel anything. I was feelingless.
All I saw was a baby sleeping, I knew she was mine but that was that. Astagafirullahlazim. I hugged her a bit told her I’m sorry I felt that way and put her down.
I was trying to think why I was feeling that way. I blamed it on my cesarean (Yes I had a cesarean, will have a blog post just on that next time) because I didn’t get the chance to bond with my baby straight away. We finished surgery probably about 9.30am but they kept me downstairs to warm me up (I think that was that?) and brought me up to my room an hour later. They only brought her to me at 12.30? A lot of babies were born that day and they were waiting for the paed to see and give them the injection before bringing the babies to their mummies. This was me trying to reason with myself for feeling that way.
I longed so hard to feel that gush of love when you see a baby, but for the first few weeks or so I didn’t. I kept waiting for that moment when I look at her and have that feeling that you would do it all over again but it just didn’t come. I didn’t have any intentions of hurting her, but I just didn’t have any feelings, which bothered me honestly.
Here you are, carrying a baby for 9 months with all the back ache, morning sickness, countless sleepless nights to more pain during birth and yet when you look at the baby you just feel nothing. Literally nothing. It was just like “Hmm. A baby”.
And if you recall back looking at my posts or insta stories you would never think this. I kept posting cute pics of her, showing how my pantang was, you would never think that I was feelingless. So what you see on social media, doesn’t always portray what’s actually going on.
I remember there was one time Mazir went out to do something and I was with Naia the whole day, he came back not late probably in the afternoon and when we came to ask how Naia was I got mad. He took Naia (much to my relief) and I just lied down. He asked me if I was okay and I said I was and told him I just wanted to sleep but I was just angry. Angry that I was left alone when I was already so tired and angry that I felt angry. Mind you Mazir was there for me all.the.time, it was just that one day and I was filled with anger.
Angry and sakit hati, mostly sakit hati. The sight of him being happy and carefree made me so sakit hati while I was there listless, exhausted and hungry. Yes constantly hungry was one of the annoying feeling I had. Like how can he be so okay when I’m like this? How can he leave me when I’m dead tired with no rest at all with a baby that constantly wants to latch and at the same time so goddamn painful to feed. How dare he come back happy.
Those were my exact thoughts. Of course he was happy to come back, he just had a baby, he was excited. But I felt sakit hati for that. Sakit hati for not feeling any bit of joy at that moment except for the fact that he coming back means I get to rest, until the next time she needed to latch, which at that time felt like an interval of 10 minutes.
Another time I was bathing Naia and she won’t stop crying. She hated bathing and it was just such a chore. Naia’s cry just started become background and within that crying all that was passing through my mind was those mothers that hurt their baby, and in that exact moment I completely understood. I understood why they would and could do it. I continued washing her hair, draining that feeling away. I didn’t try to stop her crying or comfort her I just continued washing until I got the job done. It was as if I was a robot.
I remember thinking just shut up. Just stop crying. It’s just friggin water. You’re just bathing. But she wouldn’t and I would just continue away. Draining the feeling was something I used to do a lot. Drain whatever bad thoughts I had. Drain how I feel. Which was why it made me so robotic.
There was also a moment that I felt lost. I remember telling a friend that I felt like I was missing out on life. Yes life. And by life I meant going out with your friends till late dawn. Yes as silly as it may seem this crossed my mind and bothered me awhile. I had my share of fun, but at that moment I was scared it wasn’t enough. I was scared to be stuck in this new title of motherhood and all the fun will be sucked out of me.
I can’t exactly remember how long I felt this way, and when it stopped. But it did for me. Alhamdulillah. I was able to look at my baby and feel the rush of love, able to bathe her and distract her from crying, able to actually feel joy and fun that comes along with motherhood.
I believe it was because I was being taken care of, I had a confinement lady that would come and urut and tungku me everyday for 2-3 hours. That was the best part of my day, I just felt so relaxed. My mum would cook for me everyday, I would have the best meals. Mazir would sedia my air mandi too, making sure it was warm every time.
Unfortunately for some mothers it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t get better even if you’re being taken care of because you’re still very much overwhelmed. And some develop these feelings way later when the baby is already bigger. A few people in my mummy group developed this later on and it’s great that they address it.
So I’m here telling you that you’re not alone. It’s okay to be feeling this way, it doesn’t indicate you’re a bad mother. But if you don’t seem to get any better, and the feelings just gets worst, please do talk to somebody. Anyone. It can be someone from your support group, your mother, your siblings, your husband, but let them know. It’s easier to deal it with yourself rather than trying to explain to people why you’re feeling that way; because honestly you don’t know why either.
And if you do just need a break, ask for one. Yes, you need to ask. Sometimes you’ve got so much things to cover it just overwhelms you, and you feel you’re not being supported by your husband because he doesn’t offer to help. And you think its useless but give it a try.
I get it because I feel frustrated myself when I’ve got to deal with Naia’s food or washing the pump parts and she’s also crying out for me and yet he’s just standing there carrying her waiting for me to finish and I expect him to offer to help. I get angry of course, tells him that he’s being inconsiderate, that he can help me finish whatever I’m doing so I can put my baby to sleep and I’ll grumble and nag and pick a fight. I’m just tired and I expect him to see that, sometimes they don’t. It’s okay. Ask for help. And if you see your wife, friend or sister going through anything just offer help. Help is all they need.
For the longest time I felt lost, and it was because I put too much energy on trying to be on top of things. Finding that balance between motherhood and yourself was a bit hard for me. Its like I let it suck all the me out of me. Haha if you get what I mean. I wasn’t taking care of myself. You need to take care of yourself.
If you need some time off to go do your lashes, go. I went for one and it was the best 2 hour nap I got in months, even though I woke up rasa kebas-kebas a bit. Go on date nights with your husband, rekindle. I try to set up date nights every once in awhile, let my mum take care of Naia. Yes its hard, and she won’t be jumping up and down for joy but work your way around it. How about the mum guilt? Yes. Constantly.
I’ll be in the cinemas, holding hands with the hubs, cuddling like we used to and halfway through the movie I’ll take my phone out slowly covering it, setting the brightness to the lowest point so it won’t light up too much and text my mum asking how she is. Sometimes she’s fine and I’m glad and feel sad at the same time that my baby girl has grown up, sometimes she would be crying looking for me, and I start to feel anxious and can’t wait to go home feeling slight happiness that she still needs me at the same time.
I guess the mum guilt will never go away. You’re a mum after all. But take time to take care of yourself. Bukan lah be selfish and abaikan your responsibilities ye, but if you need time off do it. Ask for it.
Just know that you are not alone in this.