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Thursday, 8 June 2017

WAY BEYOND BLUE



The first time I came across post-natal depression was when my daughter had just given birth to her first child. She was elated with her baby but about a week later she had crying fits that came for no apparent reason. At first we put them down to baby blues. But then came irrational thoughts and feelings. She believed her husband didn’t love her anymore. Feeling ugly, she was sure her husband was having an affair. She believed her mother-in-law didn’t like her and was trying to overtake her baby. None of which was true.

One night when the baby was about 5 weeks old, we were called to her home by her frantic husband- she had packed all hers and the baby’s clothes in the car and was demanding the car keys. We raced to her home and were met by a daughter we had never seen before. Red-faced, unkempt and crying loudly. Fortunately her husband had the foresight to hide the car keys as she was in no fit state to drive anywhere. 
She tried to take the baby out of her crib to take her away, but we stood in front of her so she could not get her. I tried to reason with her but she just kept screaming that she had had enough- her husband didn’t love her or the baby- she was fat and he was certainly seeing someone else. It was heart-breaking to see him in tears too pleading with her to calm down and declaring his love for her. 

Eventually she ran out of voice and strength and collapsed in my arms quite spent. I stroked her hair and her husband came and took her in his arms and comforted her. He was able at last to reason with her and she agreed to see a doctor the next day. We took the car keys with us at his request. Satisfied that the immediate danger was over, we returned home. The next day, my daughter and her husband went to see a doctor who diagnosed post-natal depression. For about 2 months my daughter took anti-depressants and became the loving calm girl we had always known. It was frightening to see what hormones can sometimes do to a woman. 

We were a little apprehensive when she gave birth to her second child. In fact the post-natal depression manifested itself in panic-attacks the first few hours after she gave birth. I notified the midwives about my daughter’s agitation and previous depressions and they sent a doctor to see her. She was put onto medication immediately and was much more relaxed and happy with motherhood. The medications were only needed for about 2 months. I was so glad that I had noticed the signs sooner this time.

I would say to all new mothers or grandmothers that if a depression goes beyond the blue that most of us experience in the first few days after childbirth, a doctor should be consulted. Hormones play a major part in promoting and maintaining pregnancy and lactation, but can sometimes also cause major depression. This can lead to disastrous results if left unattended. If my daughter ever has another child, I will be alert to any mood swings signaling post-natal depression. It should never be underestimated and should be treated promptly when discovered. 

I thank God for medication and a sensible son-in-law. Sometimes we mothers need a little help in getting well when our hormones make our depression soar way beyond a little blue.

Also, to show just how fickle hormones can be my daughter gave birth to her third child with no post-natal depression at all. 

© Glenys Robyn Hicks

Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? Psalm 56:8

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