New Mother: A Journey on Lonely Road
Real Life Incident
Suicide of a Mother with “Perfect Life”.
Allison Goldstein she had the “perfect” life in person or online.
Outside. She seemed happy and healthy, with a good job, a loving husband, and a beautiful baby girl.
Inside Within. But the truth is, inside Allison a storm was raging. Inside Allison, undiagnosed and untreated illness was festering and growing, and she was drowning in a sea of depression.
Despite having everything to live for, Allison Goldstein desperately wanted to die.
So she wrote a goodbye email, in which she apologized to her family, writing, “I’m so sorry that I didn’t know how to describe this pain [to you] and [how to] seek help.” She then dropped her 4-month-old daughter off at daycare, drove down a dirt road, and killed herself.
PPD. But there is more to Allison and her story than the upsetting manner in which she died. As her parents, David and Carol Matthews explained in an interview with NBC 12 last week, Allison’s story could be any mother’s story, and their loss and grief could be any family’s grief. Because the Chesterfield, Virginia mother became one of the 900,000 moms affected by Postpartum Depression (PPD) in America this year alone.
“If this can happen to Allison, it can happen to anybody. Even to your wife, daughter, sister, etc.
Nil Symptoms. Before Allison’s death, her family admits they had no idea she was struggling with PPD. Even Allison’s own email revealed that she didn’t know she had PPD — all she did know was that she was hurting.
The first-time mom knew she should be celebrating the “happiest days of her life,” but she couldn’t, and she didn’t know how to express what she was feeling. So instead of asking for help, she tried to push through the pain.
Brave Face. She kept a smile on her face and, as her father explained, held her head high, showing no signs of her struggles. There were no “red flags.”
“Just the days before, she was just the happiest, smiling, showing no signs at all of any internal emotional distress,” said her father David.
So the mothers struggle in secret.
They struggle in silence.
PPD: Surprising Facts
The only difference between Allison and a surviving mother is that the later got lucky. Fate or faith intervened, and she got help. But not all mothers are as lucky.
This is more common than you think but can go undiagnosed many a time. Even doctors are unable to diagnose the condition most of the time.
Symptoms. The common assumption is that postpartum depression is typically marked by obvious changes in sleeping habits and eating habits, bouts of crying, anger, anxiety, and rage — however, PPD symptoms are numerous and varied, and not all of these symptoms can be seen outwardly.
The woman goes through pain and sadness along with mood swings due to hormonal changes and there is no support or help that can be offered as there is no understanding of the situation.
Many of these symptoms are invisible to friends, colleagues, and even family.
Feelings. In fact, according to Postpartum Progress, most PPD symptoms are internal and include feelings such as guilt, worthlessness, emptiness, numbness, hopelessness, and despair. Sure, many who have postpartum depression display outward symptoms:
They may scream or cry often; they may pull back and withdraw from others. But some do not. Because some new moms hide these feelings and bury these emotions.
Dark Secrets. Some news moms keep their erratic and “crazy” thoughts a secret because if they admit they are having them — that they are struggling to bond with their baby or fantasizing about running away from their family and their life — they may be judged. They feel they are bad and inadequate, and as wives, mothers, and women, they feel they are failing.
Been There. Done That. No amount of preparation can prepare new parents for the advent of the baby. There are sleepless nights, anxiety and tiredness at all times.
Most of the new parents are overwhelmed as they have no clue about handling the new baby.
The first few months of the baby’s life is dominated by demand feeds and diaper changes. These are mother-centric jobs and may take up most of her day and nights!
Mother’s House Arrest. The first 40 days see the mother ensconced in her room as Indian tradition deems that women should not be allowed to move out during this time. There are many names to it. Some call it Jaapaa, some Chaliya and so on. This makes things difficult as the mother becomes fully dependent on others to do small tasks that she can otherwise do herself.
Paternal Discounts. Although some companies have started giving new fathers parental leave, such luxuries are hard to come by. But, in reality, the baby care issues are automatically relegated to the mother. Fathers plan their other pending jobs.
“Arranged” Problem. The situation is worse if it is an arranged marriage and the couple has had no time to acclimatize to each other and wife got pregnant even hitting her before first marriage anniversary.
Cluelessness. They are unaware of each other’s personalities and there is an emotional disconnect that keeps them from understanding their spouse. This creates issues with the marriage in general. As there is no emotional bond between the spouses, the intimacy which was scarce, to begin with, shreds with the added strain of caring for the baby.
If you don't share a good relationship with your "arranged husband", then God may save your soul.
The wife may switch off completely in these cases making the needs of the baby her excuse to shun intimacy and sex. This may escalate into fights and create a gulf between the husband and wife.
Sex. Who does not get enamoured by the little bundle of joy they have planned for and waited eagerly for? The entire focus shifts from the couple to the child.
The sex life which may have been unsatisfactory in the first place may become untenable after the baby.
The new demands of parenthood may make the sex life of even the most intimate couples go out of sync
The husband needs to understand the physical, emotional and hormonal state of the new mother and should give her time to adjust before trying to initiate sex.
The first couple of months, the mother may feel too drained to make an effort.
Changed Family Dynamics. There is a sea change in family dynamics. The carefree couple becomes parents and the dynamics of the relationship changes. It is a bonus if the couple is in sync as this can often be a stressful time.
The arranged marriage sees couples in disarray, while the families of love-struck couples often play truant.
Changed Life. The marriage changes in alignment. Suddenly, the wife is very engrossed in the child/children and it becomes difficult for the husband to understand the change.
The father is confused as he is not the one who has undergone the pregnancy and childbirth.
The maternal feelings are generally in play within hours of the birth, while fathers take more time to adjust to the change. The man must be in sync with his wife to appreciate the emotional needs that are generated in this phase.
The husband often feels left out and may even feel jealous of the baby who takes centre stage in his wife’s life.
The aims and objectives of the family change. The lifestyle of the couple changes drastically.
No Income. The new mother often has no source of income as she has to take a break from work.
Health Issues. If there are no health issues, she can maybe work till term, but to be at ease with the new baby at least 6 months of staying at home is ideal.
Long Professional Break. Many mothers like to take a couple of years off until their child is ready for school. This may apply brakes to her career. A loss of income when expenses skyrocket may spell trouble for the couple.
New Financial Blow. The financial outlay that is required for the child’s upbringing is generally a huge surprise for unprepared parents and may lead to a financial crunch.
Money Matters! It has been studied that most couples have major disagreements about money. This may mean a disruption in family life. The disharmony may prove to be the end of intimacy and may lead to poor sex life. This, in turn, creates frustration and a vicious cycle is created.
Old is Gold? Not Always! During the later part of pregnancy or after delivery, many times couples’ (boy or girl or both) parents visit their home for a few months in order to help. The aim of this visit is to help the new mother in baby care and help her understand the trick of new life.
This may also put a twist in the relationship status as privacy is further compromised.
The parents themselves in old age, sometimes end up becoming more of a liability for the couple, then any sort of help in baby care.
Due to various ailments like Diabetes, they need food on time, visit for doctor’s consultations and other sorts of medical help like physiotherapy, etc. Due to weak eyesight (and shaking hands and body), they need help to drive around from one place to another.
So, in addition to helping the couple in helping with baby care, they end up becoming a big liability for the couple.
Problematic Mothers-in-Law. In many cases, it has been witnessed that due to the sour relationship between new mother (daughter-in-law) and her mother-in-law, the later just land up for the sake showing the society that she was around her daughter-in-law, to help when she delivered her baby.
But in reality, she ends up becoming the pain in the neck for the new mother, who is anyway struggling with her baby/ babies. This issue further escalates the natural problems of the new mother.
Mother-in-law, being the mother of her husband, always gets the advantage in front of her son. So, the SILENT WAR continues between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law, along with the struggle of the new mother with respect to PPD and baby care.
If no effort is made the relationship stumbles. There is no fun in the marriage any more.
Frustrations creep in and dissatisfaction comes into play.
Problems of PPD have already been explained in depth.
Excuse. The baby may become a convenient excuse for the parents to avoid marital relations. The mother may cite tiredness, and the father is out of depth. The rift becomes untenable after a while and the intimacy fizzles out.
Food for Thought
It should be understood that nature gives full nine months to the would-be parents to prepare for the arrival of new baby, financially, mentally and socially.
Planned or Accidental. It is very important that the baby should be planned and not conceived as an accident. This issue clearly defines the “Rules of First Night” and thereafter.
Forced into Parenting. In many households, the couple is shunted if the wife doesn’t get pregnant before her second marriage anniversary. The fourth anniversary without a child will raise good questions regarding sexual compatibility between the couple.
It sounds difficult but couples who have forged a strong bond and realize that a strong marriage can be boons for happy familial bonding do make the effort of regaining the closeness.
Mentality. The mental state of the parents, the financial outlay and the possibility of familial help should be considered before taking the plunge.
Child rearing is not a job that should be undertaken when you are unprepared.
Changes. It is important that your husband is aware of the hormonal and emotional upheavals that are a part of pregnancy and the post-partum period.
For Would-be-Fathers. It is good to include him in doctor visits, scans and other pre-natal classes as the pregnancy advances. The father may otherwise feel a disconnect with the pregnancy and may not be as responsive or sensitive to your mood swings and erratic cravings.
If Old is Gold. There may be a positive side to the situation if parents are supportive and take care of the baby to give the parents some alone time for themselves.
Mature couple spending time with their granddaughter at home. Happy family[/caption]
Hunting for Lost Romance?
There are many ways to ensure that you make time for each other and your sex life can resume with a better understanding and commitment to mutual pleasure.
1. Mindset. The first step is to ensure that the thought process of both partners is the same. If both partners are equally committed to raising the baby, sharing chores, planning for the future and resuming normal marital activities it is easily done.
2. It is OK to Seek Help. It could be forthcoming from the immediate family, friends or even professional caregivers. Parents of either partner are generally happy to pitch in. This also is very healthy for the child as they have prior experience in handling a baby. The load on the mother reduces and she can try getting her marital life in sync. So, daughters-in-law to note, before fighting with their mothers-in-law!
3. Professional or Paid Help. If the family is not available at this time you could look for professional ayah services to help you cope. Be very cautious about hiring them from a reputed agency.
4. In-house Surveillance. Security measures like installing CC Tv cameras in the baby’s room is important. In this way, you can be free to go out for a few hours or catch up on your sleep. A respite from unending chores can also help in getting the new mother in a good mood for getting intimate with her partner.
5. Creche. Once the baby is older, you can look at reputed and verified crèche services so that you can get back to work. It is surprising but most working women lose a lot of stress when they feel productive in their work sphere again. This feeling will automatically translate into a feel-good factor and help you regain the lost Mojo in your bedroom too.
6. Time Management. It is important that you are on the same page with your partner about time management. It is imperative that you take time outs from the care of the baby and spend some time together. It could be an outing or even a snuggle in front of the Tv or a date in the real sense.
7. Baby’s Independence. When the baby is a few weeks old do shift her to a separate crib or even a separate room if you are comfortable. Baby monitors can solve the hesitance as you can hear the baby all the time, while she is secure in her room/ crib.
8. Personal Talks. Talking only about the baby is a common trait that new parents have. This is dangerous for a romantic relationship. The parents do not indulge in personal talk, and romance is forgotten. The smart option is to set aside an hour that is sacrosanct to you both. DO NOT talk about the baby and other related matters. This will set the tone for a romantic evening and get your sex life back on track. It does not really help when most conversations are now centred around the child and not the couple’s own lives.
9. Maternal Beauty. It is quite common for new mothers to have reservations about how their bodies look at the end of a pregnancy and childbirth. The husband should assure her that she is as beautiful as before. Her desirability should never be in doubt. A woman loses her confidence when she notices stretch marks on her belly, has slack skin and maybe a scar from a cesarean section. It is a delicate matter as the woman is vulnerable at this time and has a difficult time adjusting back in regular sex life after the relationship dynamics have changed. The partner’s support is the glue that binds the love together.
10. Re-ignite Lost Love. It is important that both partners should affirm their love towards each other frequently. The words do mean a lot and need to be said to strengthen the bonds of love.
It’s God’s Gift. Your pregnancy is a time that is God’s gift to prepare for birth and bringing up the child. This is a period that needs to be used judiciously to meticulously plan the coming of the child.
The financial plan needs to be in place.
Health is Wealth. The mother needs to be healthy and take precautions on her diet, medication and general fitness goals need to be met. Go for walks together, make a routine where you can spend a lot of ‘us’ time during the pregnancy.
Shopping Together. Do up the nursery together and buy things for the baby together. The period is a beautiful one and should be enjoyed to the fullest. It is after all the lull before the storm! The baby brings a lot of joy and cheer.
The love that you feel for the little one will forge a new bond of togetherness in the couple. They see dreams for the baby together and try to build a future for him/ her.
Matured Life. It is a happy period for the couple and they need maturity to grow into parents. If the planning on health, nutrition, finances, and other details is well-done pregnancy and motherhood can be a time when the couple draws closer. It is a time of reaffirmation of love. The love that they share becomes stronger. Always remember to be a couple first. The child came into your life because of the love you share, so your relationship should be the inspiration and role model of her life.
It is sobering to remember that a child can either reignite your relationship or make it stagnant. It is in your hands to keep the flame alive. Your time with your partner should be a priority.
Bonus Explicit Fact: Don’t kill yourself or your married life for the sake of the newborn baby. Why?
Because when they will grow up, after getting a dream job, they will fly off to their Dream Land, with the love of their life. When you will try to stop them, then they may show you the middle finger and may make you realise that: -
1. You never loved them.
2. They feel choked out in your company. They feel happier, more loved (both emotionally and physically) and secured in the company of their boyfriend or girlfriend.
3. Life is much better without you and outside this country.
4. In case you don’t allow love marriage and force them to marry the spouse of your choice, then they (relevant to both girl and boy) will make your life hell. They will make you realise that you (and your spouse) are the old (by then you will be old and weak) and rotten piece of crap, who are breathing and living on their mercy.
5. If they force their way into love marriage then their spouse will remember your tantrums for creating obstacles in their marriage, for the rest of their lives. They will ensure that your life turns into hell until your last breath.
Moral of the story: Let motherhood be a small bend on your life’s road!
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