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Post-Partum Depression

written by Kezia June 15, 2018
Post-Partum Depression

When Goka, (my husband) and I were dating, we decided to wait for two years after we got married before we started having kids. We felt like this period will give us the opportunity to enjoy the solitude of having just the two of us in the house without any interferences from our kids. Those two years were heavenly because we could just up and go on a vacation any day and any time. Working together privately made this possible.

Towards the end of the two years, we decided I should go back to school and finish my masters before we have kids. Our plan was for us to start trying for a child when I was almost done with school. God being on our side, pregnancy happened very fast for us. The month we started trying, which was December 2015, I got pregnant.

Pregnancy and school went really well. I didn’t have any major challenges health wise. In my last semester, we were not too busy with class work and were more focused on finishing our thesis so I was able to structure my time in such a way that I could work on my thesis, eat well, get some exercises done (mainly walking and doing squats) and sleep when I wanted to.

I was about about 25 weeks into my pregnancy when I relocated back to Accra. Coming back was exciting because I had family and especially my husband around. Even though I had his support and encouragement when I wasn’t around, it felt good having him in closer proximity and waiting on me when I needed it.

Everything was fine until in my 30th week, when I realized I had to change hospitals. I loved the hospital I was using at the time. It was highly recommended by some friends and I had enjoyed their wonderful care and customer service. However, due to some issues which bordered on family interferences which neither Goka and I wanted, we switched to another hospital which also came in recommended. Though the medical services of this new hospital was good and probably one of the best in Ghana, the after care and customer relations was very bad. If I were to rate them I will give the 1 star for customer relations from mainly the nurses.

Okay, so back to the birth story. By 33 weeks, we had gotten all the documents we needed from my previous hospital and had our first examination and scans. Though I had all my tests and scans from my previous hospital, the new hospital preferred to do theirs to find things out for themselves.

Fast forward to my 36th week, we went for antenatal and I was told my baby was in the breech position (meaning his head was up and his bottom down). I didn’t understand this and I suspected some foul play by the hospital because my baby had been in the right birth position since my 32th week scan when we saw that he had turned. And from my plenty research and what my previous gyno told us, it was difficult for a baby to turn around after the 32nd because the space in the womb was limited. I also felt from my research that I was feeling almost all the signs that showed my baby had turned and his head was in my pelvis. My instincts also told me my baby was in the right position. However, my new gyno suggested we consider a C-section and asked that we had it the next week when my baby was 37 weeks old.

I didn’t like the idea of the c-section and I was devastated because I had envisioned that since my pregnancy had gone without any challenges, I would have a simple vaginal delivery. This is not to say that a c-section is bad, but that wasn’t my ideal birth plan. Also, I had worked towards a simple vaginal delivery by eating well, exercising and generally taking care of myself. I cried about it and prayed that something will change by the next week. As I still hoped that by my 37th week, something good would happen so I kept my fingers crossed. We however decided that if we were going to have a c-section, then we will do it on Goka’s birthday, which is 1st September but baby had different plans for us.

My 37th week came finally, and we packed my bags in the car just so we will be prepared. We felt any day from then, I would be delivering baby. On our next antenatal day, which was 30th August, Goka and I decided to do a scan without being asked by the doctor. We wanted to know what was going on for ourselves especially because we suspected the doctor wasn’t being truthful with the positioning of the baby. And just like we had suspected, the scan showed he was in the right birth position! Armed with this information, we went to the OB/GYN to tell him. Also, the weekend before our antenatal day, I started feeling my baby’s head drop into the birth canal. This made me very happy because I knew then that my birth plan of having a simple vaginal delivery was possible.

The interesting thing about the birth of my son was that, by Tuesday when I went for antenatal I was 4 cm dilated. I was quickly sent to the labour ward. After labouring for about 5 hours I was checked and this time I was 6 cm dilated but my contractions had stopped. When the midwives realized this, my baby’s heart rate was checked with a monitor and they realized his heart rate was high. They told me it was too risky to induce me and a c-section will be the best option. One nurse quickly went to get a doctor to confirm while another went to get Goka, who had stepped out. Both of them came in and we decided to go with the c-section. My OB/GYN was also called to come in.

I was prepped and sent to the theatre, given anaesthesia and the surgery began. Within 10 minutes, I heard my baby’s loud and piercing cries and he was wheeled towards me to look at him and touch if I wanted to. The whole episode was very surreal to me and for a while, I really didn’t feel like my baby was out and separated from me but my baby had been born. He was a healthy 3.0kg bouncy and healthy baby boy.

Goka, who was in the theater all along, went with him with the midwives to another room to get him cleaned up and do the initial checks on him, while my tummy was sewed back. After everything, I was wheeled into the recovery ward and given some very strong pain killers to help me sleep. My baby was fed and also put sleep. We stayed in the hospital for four days and in those four days, I got the opportunity to experience first hand the different attitudes of nurses in the hospital. There were a lot of rude ones who wouldn’t lift a finger to help me when I needed help and a few good ones, who shared their knowledge and experiences of taking care of babies with me. On the fourth day, my wound had closed well and baby was doing well so we were discharged.

We came home and life with my newborn began. On the eighth day, we had a simple christening ceremony and named Ethan. After the christening, we went to the hospital for our first postpartum check up. During the check up, the doctor realized Ethan was turning yellow, which meant he was becoming jaundiced. We were asked to do some tests and return to see the paediatrician the next day. When we went the next day, we were told his bilirubin levels was very high so he will need some phototherapy to help get it out of his system so we were admitted for two days.

After the two days, he was fine and we got the green light to go home. I moved to my parent’s house so that I could get the help I needed as I wasn’t in the position to do much and staying at home with Goka taking care of us will be too much work especially because he worked from home and we felt his attention will be divided. Also, because we run our publishing firm together, it was important that one of us was available to manage staff while the other was away. We also felt it will be unfair to my mum to ask her to leave her business and come and stay with us and take care of Ethan and I.

After three months, we moved back home and the real motherhood journey began. I started becoming overwhelmed with all I had to do in a day, the lack of sleep and the fact that my expectations were not being met by Goka. I felt he wasn’t helping me enough, I became irritable, moody and easily angered over the smallest thing. When I felt I couldn’t take it any longer I will be to myself and cry. I started struggling to fall asleep after I wake up at night to feed Ethan. Eventually, when he started sleeping for longer hours, I had started having insomnia. I couldn’t sleep at night and because I had a lot of tasks to complete during the day, I couldn’t catch up on sleep.

Our marriage started struggling. Goka and I started drifting apart. Communication was broken as we both chose to choose our words carefully or not say anything at all. I needed help and I knew but I didn’t know who to go to or how I was going to get it. I just kept falling deeper and deeper into depression and Goka and I drifted further and further apart. This worsened the situation as I felt I had lost the one person who totally understood me and I could talk to about anything and everything. All this while, I thought it was just baby blues and it will pass. Nobody apart from Goka could tell what was going on even though I was so withdrawn and to myself. I will smile when I met people and try to be my best self even though I didn’t feel cheerful or myself. I didn’t want to bother anyone so I just wanted to keep to myself. I constantly had suicidal thoughts but the one thing that prevented me from doing any harm to myself was leaving Goka and Ethan. Also, because I am a Christian, I knew this wasn’t the way to go.

Realising it was post-partum depression and getting the help I needed was the beginning of my journey into recovery. I opened up and spoke about what I was going through to Goka. I didn’t want to see a psychologist because I felt I could beat this on my own. So with hubby’s help, I picked myself up, started getting the sleep I needed, started going out and generally doing what I love. I also signed up to be a volunteer in an NGO twice a week. I prayed to God for help to deal with the emotional roller coaster I was in and for the restoration of my marriage. Goka prayed too, for me (he wanted his cheerful happy-go-lucky wife back) and for our marriage and God came through for us. All these things put together helped me on my road to recovery from depression. This method of getting out of depression is not a sure way of overcoming this mental disorder. I highly recommend getting help and talking to a professional or someone who can actually help. For me I knew what was going on, and knew what I needed to do to help me get out of it (not everyone can tell what they need). I have come a long way but I am still working on being the person I was before I became a mom.

Being a mom has been the toughest challenge I have had to undertake, but Ethan has made the ride worthwhile. He is a healthy, smart, handsome and very energetic 21 month old boy now.

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