This is a poem about postpartum depression- an underrecognized and undertreated illness.
Time and again she was told, it would be natural
From within her would spring forth love maternal
Nights without sleep would have no adverse impact
All her fatigue would be vanquished, in fact..
By gazing lovingly at the countenance
Of her bundle of joy- everyone said this with confidence
She pictured her baby tucked in the crib she had decorated
In the final weeks, breathlessly the baby’s arrival she awaited
The idyllic picture she had in her mind
Was soon to be distorted, as she would find
Childbirth was not smooth, roadblocks she encountered
Coming home with the baby, her confidence floundered
She felt weak, infirm, inadequate in every way
To take care of a new life, night and day.
She thought she would be naturally endowed
With the ability to feed her baby, yet progress was slow
Frustrations were many, opinions abundant
Perfectly well-meaning folks made her feel incompetent
Colicky cries made her days and nights worse
Was this a boon, when it was shaped like a curse?
Isolated at home, exhausted beyond all measure
She felt that motherhood gave her no pleasure..
What should have been fun added to her misery too
Like the newborn photo-shoot, which she had to do
It was de rigueur among her acquaintances
Costly though it was to keep up appearances..
She teared up easily, but misconstrued were those tears
To be borne out of love and exaggerated maternal fears
How she felt, how she was coping were of no concern
To anyone- all the attention the newborn seemed to earn
As she sank deeper into an abyss, yet another blow appeared
She needed to go back to work after three weeks, as she had feared
If she thought meeting colleagues would help elevate
Her mood- she was wrong- her feelings it did not alleviate
In fact, trying to burn the candle at both ends
Left her more depressed, more despondent
In a sleep-deprived stupor she seemed to operate
Walking around in a disheveled state
How could she share her state of mind with anyone?
She expected neither empathy nor comprehension
Added to the mix was constant guilt
Why was she not like a mother built?
It was not until the breaking point was near
That someone noticed, by this time she feared
Harming herself, or worse, the baby some day
Getting professional help was the only way…
Tongues wagged, she felt stigmatized
For being a “bad” mother- yet she recognized
That the help she found was invaluable
She shuddered at the potential for harm incalculable..
Time did fly, as it does always
With the right therapy, better were her days
Her feelings of depression had made a retreat
Finally she could taste motherhood sweet.
(Image source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1361022)