Motherhood is beautiful. It’s like a different feeling. You think you’re in love, but wait until you have a baby and you’ll know what real love is.
These and more are just a few of the suggestions most pregnant mothers and any woman who plans to become a mother give.
But what happens when you don’t get any of these? What if the bundle of joy you offer doesn’t live up to its name?
Not every woman sees love like any other when she gives birth to her child for the first time.
Some take a day, others months.
The story of 24-year-old Kitingela woman Olivia Naserian, who was accused of uprooting her child, has shocked many. Some wonder how a mother could do such a thing to a child, while others wonder what made him do such a thing.
Apart from feeling like a failure and unfit to be a mother, Jane, who chose to remain anonymous because of the nature of her story, said she hated her son. Her cries woke her up the most.
“I hate my son so much. I pinch him when he cries.
It was 4 months at the time. “There are times when I think about throwing up,” she says.
Jane decided to ask for help after an incident. It was around 8pm and she was home alone. The nanny was on vacation and the baby started crying because she refused to breastfeed.
“I slapped him so hard that he fell off the couch. He fell on his back and didn’t cry this time. He just looked at me with sad eyes. I wanted that for the rest of my life and I’ll never forget it. I felt like he was asking why you hurt me when you are the one who should be protecting me. I picked him up and cried so hard my whole body was shaking.
Jane Googled ‘why do I hate my son’ and decided she needed to seek professional help.
“I was drugged. I never told this story to anyone.
Chebet Birir, a 29-year-old mother of two, said she was unsure about everything.
“I was scared, I had finished university and I was thinking of having an abortion but my boyfriend, who is now my husband, advised me not to do it. I graduated when I was three months pregnant,” she said.
Chebet went to live with her in-laws after she gave birth without problems and lost her job.
She says that staying with her new family brought a lot of uncertainty.
“They took care of me, but I didn’t feel comfortable because I didn’t know how to behave. I used to try to do chores and they would tell me that I didn’t have to do them now that I had done it. I began to feel unimportant.
Most of all, she woke up to a party for the baby.
“I felt guilty. I thought they brought the gifts because I can’t afford to take care of my own child. “My husband didn’t have a good job at the time either,” she said.
Chebet begins to believe she is Satan and has suicidal thoughts. “I wanted to kill myself and take my son with me because who would take care of me?”
She later returns to her mother’s house in Kiricho, which is where she first tried to kill herself. She went to the kitchen and took a knife.
“When I held the knife I felt so helpless, my hands were weak. Then I heard my mother’s voice calling my name,” she said.
She was a deceiver. Besides not showering for days, she believes the baby is not hers.
The second time she tried to kill herself, she moved to Nairobi with her husband. The husband’s friends come to visit with lots of shopping, which wakes her up.
“I felt so guilty that I couldn’t help my husband financially, so his friends would buy us things. So I went to the balcony to jump from the fifth floor with my six-month-old baby at the time. One of his friends was outside, so he hindered my mission.
When her condition worsened, she was taken to the hospital.
“I was hearing my baby crying. Even when I see an old man’s face in the obituary section of a newspaper, every face looks like my son’s.” She was given anti-psychotic drugs and her condition subsided.
In the year During her second pregnancy in 2020, the family was waiting for signs. However, the depression of the second child was different, “she felt like Jesus”.
“In the pessimism that I was the devil the first time, this time I was Jesus and I was carrying all the problems in the world. I used to shout that I will give you a break.
Chebet says she sings praise songs loudly and wants to do everything. “I was manic. I wanted to go to the Masters and play basketball. I talked too much, dressed too well, and always wanted to nurse the baby. I would yell at the neighbors, ‘Come on, you heavy guys, I’ll put you down.’
She was given medicine and went to her mother in Kericho for a week. “My mom and my wife are my biggest support system.”
Pascaline Njau founded the Calmind Foundation in 2017, an organization that promotes maternal mental health through education, support and advocacy. This happened after she suffered from postpartum depression.
“After I recovered, I decided not to sit back and watch other women suffer in that darkness and silence. That’s when I decided to share my story on various platforms to encourage more women to speak up to create awareness and reduce stigma.
After giving birth to her second child, Pascaline says she was stressed about everything. “Small jobs made me feel like breaking down and crying.”
“There are nights when I cry myself to sleep. My daughter had severe colic and when she cried I would find myself crying with her. One moment I will be happy and next minute I will be very sad, she says.
She felt she was a bad mother and her children were better off without her. But the thought of taking her life was terrifying.
Her husband knew she was not well but could not understand exactly what was happening. According to him, she has changed now.
It took her realizing that her friend was sick and needed help. She was referred to a counselor who told her she was suffering from postpartum depression. “Finding that I have hyperthyroidism has increased my risk of developing mental illness. This is where recovery begins. She went with me to full recovery.”
Know the signs
Recognizing and recognizing the symptoms of postpartum depression helped Pascale when she was pregnant with her third child.
“I wasn’t ready to have another baby any time soon and I was worried I’d go into depression again. But I was determined to help myself. So I was very conscious of things. I hired an extra nanny so I could have time to rest and take care of the baby. I used it,” she says.
Visiting Psychiatrist at Nairobi West Hospital, Dr Pasifa Onyancha, says postpartum depression occurs in the first year after giving birth, but usually develops in the first weeks or months. It is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, depression, anger, and exhaustion.
“Postpartum psychosis, on the other hand, can include hallucinations, delusions, and disordered behavior. This condition is less common than postpartum depression, but it can be more dangerous if left untreated,” she says.
Onyancha says the cause of postpartum depression and psychosis is not fully understood, but it is believed that changes in hormone levels, particularly a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, may play a role.
“The stress of caring for a newborn, lack of sleep, changes in routine and social support contribute to the development of these conditions. In most cases there is a family history of mental illness, postpartum psychosis or other mental conditions such as schizophrenia,” she says.
Onyancha added that any woman can experience postpartum depression or psychological problems, but certain factors can increase the risk. Women with a history of depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder may experience postpartum depression or psychosis.
Other risk factors include difficult pregnancy or childbirth, lack of social support, and financial or relationship stress.
Cynthia Benson, the attorney in Nasserian’s case, said it’s the prosecutor’s job to prove his point.
“However, we know that no mother in her right mind would kill her child or cause any harm. It is difficult to prove that the woman had the intention of killing her child.”