Over six months ago I gave birth to my fourth child. I had believed I was done at three. I had two beautiful girls and an equally beautiful son. They are healthy, smart and a joy to be around, and trying for more would have meant pushing my luck. At least, that is what I believed. I was satisfied with what God had given me; it was more than I ever could have wanted for myself, or felt that I deserved.
Number four was a surprise, a difficult pregnancy that took a toll on my body and mental state. I was in constant pain. Exhausted. And not really looking forward to becoming a mother again. My three other children were still young (7, 5 and 2), and juggling it all was tough. Though they will probably not recognize it as such, I felt that I neglected them.
I gave birth through a scheduled C-section, my fourth. It all went flawless, the baby was (and is) beautiful and healthy. But I was not happy. I felt overwhelmed, constantly. Caring for four children, a task that mainly falls on my shoulders in my family, became a chore, not something that I actually enjoyed, or even really wanted to do. I would much rather stay in bed and wallow in my misery all day. But a sense of guilt feeling kept me going. The kids needed to be fed, clothed and the girls had to go to school. My husband did a lot, but for me day-to-day life remained a struggle.
I knew something was wrong. I had had some persistent baby blues before, but this dark cloud never seemed to lift. There was in my perception nothing to look forward to. Nothing that I did really made a difference and everything, literally everything, was overwhelming to me. I knew I had postpartum depression, and this knowledge has made things a bit easier for me, as I have survived depression before, and know I can beat this one too. It is temporary. There is nothing wrong with ME, but it will take time, and a lot of effort and counselling.
What I did not really expect, is how my depression has strained my relationship with my Creator. I have never considered myself a very spiritual person, rather a very practical believer: Islam just makes sense to me. But God now was so very absent from my life. The Presence a painful void. My worship, sparse and inconsistent, became empty. In prayer I would miss parts, and not even bother to fix my mistakes or even acknowledge them. Ramadan came up, and all I could think about was diapers. My failure at potty training was an example of how I failed at life, and at motherhood. Ramadan is an afterthought: iftars I have to made, and the Qur’an. While I knew I would not fast, using breastfeeding as my main excuse, I was hoping I could at least read the Qur’an from beginning to end, something I have done previous Ramadans too.
We are now days in, and I have not even touched the Qur’an. I do, however, pray most prayers on time, which is an improvement. I have cooked iftars too, often strained myself to outdo myself, making up for not fasting. I snap at the kids, am angry beyond what is reasonable, and once it is time for iftar I am done with it. Done with it all.
I am not my depression, and I will get over this. Next Ramadan will be a Ramadan for me too, God willing. Right now however I have decided to live my life like there is no Ramadan, in Ramadan denial. I will miss out on the blessings, will miss out on the “special feeling,” whatever that may be, but at least I hope to be able to get a grip on my life again and pray that things will go up from here. Eid ul Fitr cannot come soon enough for me this year.
I am so sorry to hear about this; keep your head high, you are a wonderful mother and you got this.
Sending you much love – I suffered from protracted PPD after my second kid and it only resolved recently. My last ramadan was much like the one you’re going through now. If I could give myself any advice, I think it would just be to be so super gentle with myself and those around me. I’m afraid I wasn’t nice to anyone, husband, kids, myself and I feel so bad for my older kid.
Two weeks before Ramadan this year I discovered I was pregnant again…I knew immediately that I did not want to move forward with this pregnancy. I spoke to a dr. and scheduled the termination but I couldn’t get an appointment for another two weeks. Those two weeks were utterly miserable and I spiraled back into a depression, struggling to get out of bed, do my bare minimum daily tasks. As soon as I terminated the pregnancy, I felt better. This Ramadan has been surprisingly good so far, I’m able to fast, I was able to do a lot of meal prep. Staying patient is not easy (when is it ever?) but I’m getting to try regardless.
All this to say be gentle with yourself and inshaAllah you’ll be back to feeling like yourself eventually. Take it one day at a time. <3