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Postnatal depression and me

I recall when I had my second child, while my first was only 2 years old. Potty training for this toddler at home was on track until the new baby arrived - and then my toddler regressed and the potty training that was progressing so well was out the window!! And to top it off, while my new baby was only a week old, my nanny left. My husband's one week of paternity leave was over and he was back at work. I had to deal with a few broken hours of sleep at night, and looking after a baby and toddler during the day, feeding them, cooking, cleaning, laundry work and getting myself back to normal health. After a few days of trying to get it all done and failing miserably, I decided to only do what I could.

During antenatal classes and in baby books and articles, moms are advised to try and sleep when the baby sleeps. This helps reduce fatigue and helps in healing so that you're a better mom physically and mentally for your baby. When I decided to do only what I could, the first thing I told myself was to try and sleep when the baby slept. But with a toddler in the house, this was impossible. I found myself often trying to convince the toddler to sleep when the baby was asleep, so that I could also get in a few minutes of sleep. But with the new baby's arrival, my toddler's sleep routine had also changed. In the end, I only found myself with a dirtier house, no food in the house to eat late in the afternoons and a toddler in serious need of a bath!

I was now past the baby blues of finding myself crying for no apparent reason. I was always shouting at my toddler, for example when I sat in the couch and it was wet because he was no longer using the potty as he had been trained to. Or shouting at him to be quiet and not wake the baby. Or convincing him to do something I wanted done, as he was at the age of saying "no" to everything. One time I was breastfeeding my baby while screaming at my toddler. The baby got startled and stopped feeding to look up at me. I felt so bad and he just smiled at me instead!

At this point, I was always tired, on edge, feeling depressed and wondering if I was ever going to survive this! I wondered if I was getting postnatal depression. This is a mental sickness that mothers with babies sometimes get. Sometimes, the cause is not having enough support as a mother. With a working husband and a toddler and baby to look after, as well as a home to maintain, and in a foreign country, I was a ripe candidate for post-natal depression.

Symptoms of antenatal depression include feeling low, sad, worthless, being hostile or indifferent to your partner or husband or your baby, being angry or irritable, tired, unable to cope, feeling hopeless about the future, tearful for no apparent reason and feeling guilty. Not all the symptoms are always present during sickness. And sometimes the sickness is mild or severe.

There are various places to look for help, including the place you gave birth at. If it is in a hospital, usually the hospital can find a solution for a mom in such a predicament. A support system is usually key in sorting postnatal depression out. Treatment can be through talking to a therapist, taking medication or both.

The crazy bunch

Help for me came about a month later when we got a new nanny and life settled down. She's been with us since and has been a godsend. The children are all grown now but I can't imagine how things might have turned out if I had continued down that road alone and I do not want to.Mental health in moms with new babies is key; both for the health and growth of the baby and for the mom's health and recovery. All I know is that if you are a mom and think you have postnatal depression or if you know a mom with symptoms of the sickness, please speak to a professional or your hospital in order to seek help.

About the author: Charlotte A. Kaija is a wife and mother to two boys and a girl. She's a Christian and a tax manager at Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev) in Johannesburg, South Africa. She loves to read, swim and do anything adventurous.

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