Written by Alexandra
My wife had been ignoring the baby, even when he cried. It’s 2 days post-delivery and my ‘Post-delivery Fatigue Syndrome’ diagnosis is beginning to sound lame. We had to make do with infant formula, my mom doing all the feeding. I brought the baby with me yet again as I made for her bedside, but my wife wouldn’t acknowledge the two of us. Then I said, “I’ve been thinking we should name him Gabriel. He doesn’t look like a Solomon to me.” She just kept looking at the baby as if he was some stranger, I tried to place the baby on her laps but she just pushed my hands away. She looked at me and said, “I don’t feel like touching or holding the baby. I don’t know how to act around the baby. I’m just so tired.”
“Just hold the baby, please”, I begged. It was obvious that the orderlies and nurses were eavesdropping. In fact one of them was bold enough to step close to mop the floor though we spilled nothing! Several episodes of same followed and on one of those final efforts, as if overwhelmed by some magical force, my wife stretched out her hand and held the baby. She looked at him for a long time, then smiled. We were eventually discharged on the third day and I was glad to take both mother and child home at last! Home has proven to be the best cure; with both grandmas around, as well as my sister. Sade had stayed out of bed, even breastfed the baby. It was such a relief because I always really worried for her. Breast engorgement is another painful thing I didn’t want her to go through. Day 4 and 5 were largely uneventful but I still kept a close watch on my wife.
Sade woke me up at 2 a.m. the following day and said, “are you sure that is our baby?” In that moment, I knew my night was over. “Of course he is! Why would you think otherwise?” But the ultrasound said it was a girl, she argued. Ultrasounds aren’t 100% accurate, Sade. I made a mental note of looking through the motherhood book she was reading while pregnant. She trusted the book more than she trusted me apparently. “I know something happened to my baby,” she continued. “I heard her cry then she stopped.” Of course, newborns cry and stop and it is a he, not ‘she’ dearie. “They also took my baby away, she started again. Only to clean and weigh her! I replied impatiently.
Sade had gotten better after the naming ceremony but I was losing my mind at work. I had been looking forward to the delivery and so had she. Maybe for different reasons; but hers had all the excitement. She was all ecstatic one minute and ice-cold the next, unpredictable, and yes it frustrated my spirit, soul and body! My consultant called me into his office at work one morning. “Sit down, Olaniyi.” You know something’s wrong when your boss calls you by your first name. I moved to defend myself, I had documented without signing out. A little misdemeanor, but a sign of great indiscipline with this man. “Olaniyi, I have not called you into my office to castigate you over the case note; that is settled. You seem absent minded, and that so unlike you! What is the matter, is your workload too much?” No sir. Are you worried about your exams? “No sir!” I cleared my throat.
“Well, I want reasons young man.” The famous stern voice was returning. “You have a promising future ahead of you. Medicine isn’t something you do absent mindedly. If you keep this up, you are bound to make a mistake which could affect your career.” Sir, I promise to be more focused. He peered at me through his glasses while I squirmed on my seat.
A cold drink or a hot tea?
I adjusted my tie, “a drink sir“. He went to his fridge and brought me a light beer then he took one for himself. He opened his and I followed suit. Although I wasn’t one to take alcohol, I took a sip after him. I felt a bit more relaxed.
Then the old man started telling of how he almost lost his mind after the birth of his first son. “I married late; I’d had a quiet life for 40 years then came this wailing buster. My wife sleeps deeply. I was the one who rocked and fed at night. I almost made a mess of my master’s thesis.” He launched into stories and stories till I started laughing. Then I told him about my wife. How she cries and is always tired. How she is always having fears about the baby and at times showing utter neglect. I told of him of her self-neglect. He listened intently. I went on and on, till I had emptied my heart, and the bottle of beer.
He looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Your wife is having the blues. The earlier you accept the diagnosis, the earlier you would seek help for her sake. Forget about investigating if someone in the family has had this before and take active measures.” By all means pray but let the young lady see a psychiatrist. She wouldn’t forgive you if she were to miss these first days of her child’s life.
Those few months showed me I’m made up of stronger stuff than I think. Our families have been supportive, and I have learnt to ignore the gossips and the ignorant. I’ve learnt to pray, and I’ve come to realize this – a wife is the most delicate and the most important piece in a man’s world. Now I can really appreciate just how scared I was. I thought I had lost my wife! It was not been easy at all- the therapy sessions, the side effects of medications. I had to take an extended leave from work. My wife has won the bout against post-partum depression/psychosis with me as her coach and God as referee. Only she could explain what she went through. I saw the agony and could recognize her pain. For someone who is connected to her body, soul and spirit, I could almost touch the grief or absolutely share it with her. It was just like labor! I did not allow her to suffer in silence. We sought professional and spiritual help. She now thinks the boy is the most beautiful baby in the world. I enjoy watching her do all and more than she has planned!
My Folasade is finally back! Now Gabriel has the love, attention and devotion of mummy and daddy. I can’t wait to watch him grow!
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