Friday, April 25, 2014

What ‘It’ did to me, and how I was healed

I landed upside down on a terrain called New Motherhood. With jagged corners and steep pathways, this terrain, this phase, this time of life is hard as it is. But add to it a sense of fogginess, a feeling of nothingness, a state of just existing and you know that you’re missing out big time. You’re missing out on the precious moments of beauty, the brimming-over love that fills you up along with all those postpartum hormones and aches, the luminous memories that you make and carry through your life in a pocket in your heart.

In a nutshell, you’re experiencing all that is difficult about first time motherhood without being able to register or relish the sparkling beauty in this phase, this journey.

Somewhere deep inside you, you know that something is not quite right. You know that you’re supposed to feel differently. You know that you don’t like your current state of being. But as much as you want to break free from the shackles of this perplexing condition that you don’t want to put a name to, this all-enveloping haze of dullness, this robot-like existence…you just cannot.

Oh yes! I tried very hard. I talked to myself. I tried to find the logic in the situation, the key to open the cage. But the more I tried, the more entangled I became, the more the tides of this nothingness pulled me down, the more these reams of fog knotted up around me.

And so there I stayed, my head swathed in thick fog, my heart shrouded in sheets of ice. Like the ghost of a person frozen in time, there I stayed in this dark realm for many months after my son came out of the NICU.

I existed, I lived, I mothered. I went through the motions of life like a machine fed on data, like a new mother with a postpartum condition called…..

I won’t say the word. I can’t. It hurts too much to say it, or even to remember it. Because I never thought this would happen to me. After all, isn’t this something that affects people in magazines, in medical journals! Or so I blindly believed.

It didn’t happen to happy people. To new mothers like me, who’ve been yearning to cuddle their babies. To brave mothers like me, who sit by their babies in the NICU, mumbling prayers and holding them to recovery.

But I was so wrong. ‘It’ can strike any new mother, at any time. In fact, often those who have gone through a traumatic situation during or post-delivery. It can creep up on you stealthily and take you by surprise, crippling your emotions, robbing you of feeling, leaving you like a corpse existing on the yellow gleam of hope.


Today, as I live in a fog-free world, my heart brimming over with love for my baby boy, I glance back and wonder why I didn’t reach out for help – medical and emotional. And maybe, I know the answer.

But what I want to tell you is this – I came out of that haze, one slow , painful step at a time. I was healed with love. I was mended and glued back to shape by my son.

Baby N helped me heal, one sloppy kiss at a time, one baby cuddle at a time. He led me out of the tunnel, his chubby little hand in mine. He picked up the pieces of my soul, meshed the brokenness in my heart.

He showed me through his pixie smile and abundant baby love that we’d not really missed out on a crucial bonding phase, when he was taken away from me after his birth. That our love runs deep. That our mother-son relationship was formed months, years, lives before he was conceived.

As I look at him now - playing with his yellow rattle, chasing my blue slippers, sleeping curled up against me, and feel that clichéd kind of mother-love, I know that the fog has lifted…that I am exactly where I should be…that all is fine with the world and life.

That I’m a new mom and this is a life that I embrace with both arms and the whole of my heart.

Note: If you’re a new mother and reading this – if you’ve felt anything like what I did and need help, reach out. You can dash off a message to me or visit a friendly health care practitioner. In hindsight, I realized this – there is no stigma or shame in needing help when you’re in the throes of postpartum blues or postpartum depression. It can happen to the best of the mothers – and always remember – you’re just the kind of mother your baby needs. 

P.S. For those of you who're new here: What happened before I got to the fog - pieces of that journey:

Photo credit: Sandeep Banerjee

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