The real reason for postpartum depression
The facts we quickly gloss over have a deeper role
The first time I had an outer body experience was about an hour after I gave birth. I floated above myself and saw surreal things being asked of me. I was still raw, sore and bleeding, but my top was unbuttoned and two nurses were trying to get my two-hour-old wailing newborn to latch onto my breast. Every time he cried, I'd float up to my sky-high perch, look down at 'me' and escape from my 'new' life.
My body eventually learned how to breastfeed, bathe and put my son to sleep, but my mind remained suspended in mid-air, miles away from where I 'should' be.
I didn't want this life. I didn't know this life. I couldn't give my all to this life.
I stayed disconnected from my son till he was 18 months old. I loved him but couldn't get myself to be ALL there. And he knew it. His chubby fingers would grip mine as he screeched, refusing to let go. He knew I was ready to take flight. This is postpartum depression. More than just hormonal, PPD transports you to the inner wounds we've buried beneath layers of competence. When we have children, we're endlessly withdrawing from our bank of nurture. If the people who had the power to fill our coffers - our parents - were emotionally impoverished, we enter parenthood bereft. There is hope, though. We can give ourselves what they couldn't.
PPD is our wake-up call to visit our first child - our inner child - us! "People say the day they became parents was their child's birth day. But, parenting truly starts when we have to look within and listen to our inner child's needs," says Devika Mankani, chief positive psychologist, Fortes Education and The 100 Wellness Centre. Once our inner child is emotionally enriched, we will be able to generously connect with our children.
What is the inner child?
All children need to be loved for who they are. If our needs are not met as children, a part of us remains frozen in time and unable to cope with life as an adult. This is our inner child. For example, if you were told to stop crying when you were a child, your parents essentially told you to bury your feelings. As an adult, you wouldn't be able to cope with your child crying because you never let yourself feel. Once you realise the problem source, you can heal by: a) Allowing yourself to feel the pain of that rejection - "It is okay to feel the pain", b) Showing yourself compassion - "I am here for you", and c) Giving yourself love - "I accept and love you".
We can replenish our nurture bank by loving our inner children back to emotional wholeness. PPD is a powerful trigger but the root of the pain is where it always was - buried in our childhood.