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Overcoming Postpartum Depression - Wafula's Story

Postpartum Depression affects more than 10 percent of women globally. (Photo: Unsplash)

Mary Wafula wasn't new to motherhood. All was bliss until the 9th month after delivery when she discovered she was three months pregnant. The tune changed thereafter. The news of her pregnancy sent her into a dark path of regret and to mask it she stayed within the confines of her home for the first trimester.

Sadly, as many say, pregnancy is like the flu. It can't be hidden. Her belly started showing and that welcomed all sorts of unsolicited criticisms from people around her and her family. Some called her husband, 'father Abraham' while others suggested that they may need to terminate the pregnancy considering her firstborns were twins. Hearing all these comments made accepting the situation even harder for Mary.

As her body was changing, her previous caesarian section wound started to pain. Even mundane activities like brushing her teeth would trigger her wound rendering her a bit helpless. After seeking medical attention, her gynecologist recommended bedrest until the day of her delivery.

Mary Wafula continues to overcome and advocate for survivors of postpartum depression (Photo: Capital FM)

The Beginning of The End

On her arrival back home with her infant daughter, everything changed. Her twin boys were eager to meet their sister but also to see their mother who had been gone for a couple of days. As young innocent children, none of them could predict that their mother-son relationship was about to change because of their new sister, and not for the better.

In trying to manage her two one-year-old boys and her new baby, Mary became extremely fatigued and overwhelmed. All these presented itself in a manner that her husband couldn't confront head-on. Her patience grew thin with her curious children.

"I started canning my two boys with whatever was close by because I expected my boys to know better. Something I had never done before. I kept on forgetting that they were just children" she narrated

Mary's symptoms, although unorthodox, made the neighbors and her husband worried that the violence was a sign that she was not okay and the issue could be deeper than what she led on. Despite the many conversations around her relationship with her sons, Mary still saw nothing wrong and convinced herself that all she was doing was disciplining them because she didn't want wayward children.

The Realisation

As Mary was going about her day, in the corridors of her house, she met her son. His immediate reaction to their meeting was to protect his face as if afraid that something would hit his face. She didn't read much into it until he did it a couple more times in the house and that forced her to pause. 'Are my sons afraid of me?' She wondered. In fear, that evening, she had a conversation with her husband about it.

"That was my eye-opener and my first step to recovery. I accepted that I am suffering from postpartum depression and I need help," she said. She and her husband visited a psychologist and the solution that the doctor recommended was that she should rely on her support system.

Mary's symptoms of postpartum depression presented themselves as violence toward her children and that created distance between her sons. Consistent counseling and allowing her support system to step in when she is overwhelmed and fatigued have been a paramount part of her recovery journey to be a better mother to her children. She now volunteers at Basic Needs Kenya where she helps other mothers demystify postpartum depression by talking openly about her experience hoping that her journey may help other women learn more about the different faces that motherhood has.

Postpartum Depression affects more than 10 percent of women globally. Although this public health crisis goes heavily undiagnosed in Kenya, the government has put in place systems that allow women to seek help immediately. Public hospitals like Pumwani Womens Hospital and Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital have put in place maternal mental health services that are open every day to help curb maternal depression in Kenya.

Source: Capital FM


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