When Lindsey Kenneth found out that she was pregnant, she was so happy she could have done a jig. The pregnancy was easy on her: until she woke up one day with a swollen face and body.
“I was 37 weeks pregnant when I developed oedema, and therefore had to be monitored closely since there was the risk of pre-eclampsia,” Lindsey, 31, explains.
The birth, she says, was traumatic and she had to be induced, only to pass out halfway through the delivery.
“Since I couldn’t push, the doctors had to pull my baby out even as they tried to revive me. The pressure from the pulling not only tore me badly, it also distorted my baby’s shoulder.”
When she came to, Lindsey remembers being in constant pain, physical and psychological. She also felt that no one really cared about her since all the focus was on her newborn. To make matters worse, when she was discharged, the doctors realised that all was not well with her baby – she was convulsing regularly.
“We were referred to a neurosurgeon, who calmed and reassured me first before treating my baby, something that made me feel ‘human’ again. He also assured me that my daughter’s condition, which was due to going without oxygen during birth, would go away with time.”
Her most trying period was when she finally went home with her baby. Besides the convulsions, her daughter had colic, which made her cry most of the time.
“I would realise much later that this was due to my breastfeeding technique, I wasn’t doing it correctly, and therefore my baby ended up swallowing too much air, which made her colicky.”
“The incorrect breastfeeding technique also resulted in cracked painful nipples. It also turned out that the afterbirth stitching was done incorrectly, prompting corrective surgery three months after my daughter’s birth.
“I was in emotional turmoil during those first months of motherhood, I felt something inside me was wrong, but could not place a finger on it. The tipping point was when my daughter accidentally fell from the couch and I could not stop crying even after realising that she was fine. I also kept blaming myself. It is at that point when my husband realised something was off and suggested that I see a therapist.”
It turned out to be a bad experience that made her feel even worse.
“Unfortunately, the first one I saw blamed me for how I was feeling, telling me that I was just an ‘ungrateful mum’, pointing out that there were many mothers who had ‘bigger challenges’ than mine.”
Keen to get to the bottom of what was ailing her, she sought the help of a couple of other therapists, but they all did not think her case was really as bad as she put it. And so she returned home no closer to finding a solution to the disconnect she was feeling than she was when she sought help.
Her life was punctuated with sad moments for no apparent reason, moody episodes that left everyone around her walking on eggshells as well as a dip in confidence since her clothes no longer fit her thanks to weight gain. Besides this, she felt that no one understood her, which made her angry and frustrated. She also started to question her spirituality.
She knew that she had gone over the edge when she slapped her daughter when she was only nine months old.