When Samoina Wangui could not get her three-week-old son to sleep after a night of crying she became restless and as the cries got louder, her anger was roused to the point that she slapped the infant.
“I took off his shawl, stared at him in the face, shouted something I can’t remember, and beat him. At three weeks, his fragile bottom bore the brunt of my frustrations. No one could understand what I was going through – the bitterness, anger and frustration. The more I beat him, the more he cried, the more I cried. I couldn’t take it anymore, she says.
That was the beginning of her dislike for the baby she had carried for nine months. She avoided going to the kitchen out of fear that she could pick up a knife and end it all.
“I had to wait until my parents got home to make my way towards that direction,” she says.
What started as baby blues that usually begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two week for some new moms, transitioned into a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD).
She had no idea what was going on her mind or how to fix the situation that was almost driving her insane and all she could do was pretend and bury the resentment towards her child just so that no one in the house would notice.
“I did not let anyone know what I was going through because it was not normal for a mother to feel this way about her child and so I tried so hard to pretend like everything was okay,” she says. While it is difficult to understand just what makes a mother feel so much hate and resentment towards her child, especially after months of waiting and the joy that comes with motherhood, Catherine Gachutha Counselling Psychologists says that times have changed and this is a new reality for many mothers now.
“In the past the family dynamics were different and there was so much support from the family. However, the lack of social support affects mothers from the time they are pregnant to when they have the baby,” she says. She says that new mothers feel overwhelmed.
“You feel like you just can’t handle being a mother. In fact, you may be wondering whether you should have become a mother in the first place,” she says.
There is also some sense of guilt for the mother because you believe you should be handling motherhood better than this and that the baby deserves better. Just like Wangui many mothers feel irritated or angry at the world and have absolutely no patience since everything is annoying. There is also a feeling of sadness and many mothers can’t stop crying, even when there’s no real reason to be crying.
“The mother should stay positive by challenging the irrational thoughts and regulating expectations while the family can look out for these anomalies in the mother,” says Gachutha.
Now with her son almost five years old, Wangui has done all she possibly could to not only recover but also look for ways to make up for lost moments by trying to be the best mum she could be.
The biochemist turned stay-at-home mum looked for help online at anonymous site and the peer group helped her understand that she is not alone and it was going to be okay and when she could finally afford it she also went on to see a therapist who has opened her eyes wide open.
A champion for mothers who suffer from PPD, Wangui does all she possibly could to let her voice be heard and make it easy for other women who are in her position know that it shall be well.
“I know I can make a difference and based on the number of women who reach out for assistance I understand that I am doing a world of good,” she says.