Singaporean mum spills: “I wanted to kill my child”
“Postnatal psychosis made me do horrible, extreme things.”
Sharan* is a working mum, aged 36, and lives with her husband and their 5-year-old son, Neil*. She recollects the time she wanted to end the life of her newborn. This is a story of real struggle, hope lost and the desperation to break free from motherhood.
Five years on, I still remember the afternoon I decided to kill my baby son. I kept hoping this was just the “baby blues” and that it would soon pass, but things only got worse. My pregnancy was all great- I had no morning sickness, no swelling of feet, no weird cravings. But once the baby came, my world turned upside down.
The hatred I started developing for the new addition to my life wasn’t what I had expected. You can’t possibly be feeling that as a new mum, can you? My bundle wasn’t one of joy, not for me at least. I recognised this was postnatal depression that I was suffering from, and it messed me up entirely. My logic was twisted- nothing made sense to me, and nothing comforted me.
Why don’t the baby books warn us about this? Why don’t people who have been through it alert us about it? Why is it that everyone paints such a pretty picture of having a child? Am I the WORST mum in the world?
Neil had colic, and it was excruciating for both me and him. I felt his misery and wanted to end it. If we would do that to an animal (if it were in that much of pain), why not a baby? All this thoughts kept flooding my mind.
He cried for hours on end. Every single day for a week. Was he sick? Teething? Tired? Hungry? Sad? Mad? I couldn’t tell and it was killing me. I rocked him, snuggled up with him thinking that he needed to be close to my chest to felt comfort and security (or like he was still in my womb), and I took him for walks in his baby carrier – but nothing worked. No amount of tummy-rubbing or melodious singing and soothing words was enough for this little human. Being with a crying creature who is difficult to appease was exhausting, stressful, and frustrating.
I felt down and hopeless. I began pulling my hair out. I asked my husband to fix a punching bag in our study room. I really needed an outlet to vent my frustrations, and he understood it. He did all he could to help me, but it just wasn’t enough. I wanted the crying to stop, and I wanted to quit being a mum. It wasn’t for me. At least not now, not this way.
When hubby was at work, I found myself spending a lot of time by my window just looking down at the playground under my block, watching the kids play, and imagining Neil and I doing the same when he was a bit older. Then I felt some peace. This would last for a mere few minutes, and his wailing would startle me and jolt me out of the happy thoughts.
Then one afternoon, I looked down with a different mindset altogether. I wanted to pick my baby up, and throw him out of the window. I kid you not, it actually fleeted through my head. Yes, it sounds crazy, a mum wanting to kill her own child. But that was what it was.
I looked at him. He was lying in his cot, eyes red and screaming his lungs out. What do I do? How do I stop this? I knew something was not right with me. How could I have such bad thoughts about my own baby? I ran to the phone and called my mum and my husband and expressed what I was feeling. They freaked out and tried to calm me down over the phone, while driving to me.
Thankfully my black thoughts did not lead to actions. I sought help right after that incident. I know I am not alone, and that many women experience postnatal depression. But what helped me out was having a good support system. My family reached out to me, offering help to look after Neil whenever I couldn’t deal with him on my own.
He finally stopped acting up like this only 3 months later. It was a really difficult time for me, but I managed to survive it. Now I have a happy and outgoing child who’s 5 this year and I am expecting my next child. And boy am I ready to kick PND in the bottom this time!
Sharan’s message to mums suffering from postnatal depression:
Losing your sense of identity after becoming a mother is pretty normal but can be so frustrating. You may feel like giving up when you cannot cope. The depression will creep up on you like a black shadow- you must fight it. The frightening thoughts you may have doesn’t mean you are actually going to do those things. Find solace in your loved ones, and never hesitate to ask for help from family, friends and even medical professionals. You can be cured, there is a way.
*All names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
If you know of anyone who is suffering from postnatal depression, please seek treatment by calling 6294 4050 or click here for more information.
You can also contact:
- Association for Women for Action and Research (AWARE). Aware has a phone helpline (1800-774-5935) and they also provide counselling services. For more information, visit their website www.aware.org.sg/.
- Mindful Mums. For all issues pertaining to becoming a mum and motherhood itself, you can turn to their support groups which are free of charge.