Motherhood Is Not Instinctive

Motherhood Is Not Instinctive

I learned that Mohamed, my husband, would be leaving Egypt and travelling abroad for
quite some time.
That’s when we decided to start using an IUD.
But I found out that I was pregnant.

He left one week after I gave birth.
The baby was my first child.
I used to hear about postpartum depression.
I thought it happened because of the changes pregnancy made to the body.
But when I experienced it myself, I found that there were more reasons behind it.

It felt like I was battling a monster.
There was no time for objection.
I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t even be depressed.
This child had no one but me.
And all I had to offer him was my milk.

I didn’t get it. How can I describe what I went through?
And what I’m still going through?
All I know is that I no longer find pleasure in listening to songs I love.

The thing is, depression at that point was considered to be normal.
But to me, it was strange.
How can people think that this mental suffering is something normal?
How can there be no one I can talk to about how hard it is for me to breathe at night?
I’m surrounded by so much darkness even though I open the windows every morning to let in the sun.
I’m not complaining about having to change diapers.
And I’m not depressed because I have to breastfeed or tolerate my son’s hysterical cries.
I’m depressed because no one seems to be able to listen to me.
They refuse to hear my concerns.

They started being labeled as an irresponsible mother because of the way I dress and the interests I had before marriage.
I would hear things like, “You’re not fit to be a mother.’
“How are you so devoid of maternal feelings?”
“Why is your son so small? Your milk must be no good.”
“My God, you’re putting your son through an awful lot. At least he made you a mother.”
 My husband was away for a long time and there were some problems.
Is it normal what I’m going through? Will I follow the same path as everyone else?
But I didn’t want to go down that road.
I wanted to be a traveller.

I’m not kidding. Yes, I know I’m from Upper Egypt, but my dream was to be a traveller.
What am I doing here?
The answer was always, “Being a mother is your job.”
But why is there no pay?
My questions are weird. The answer to them would be too harsh.
“You don’t deserve your son!”

But I know for a fact that I do deserve my son. I deserve his love and laughter.
I deserve many things.

I know my words are incoherent and confusing.
But all I know is that I’m worthy.
Because I sacrificed a lot.
I may have sacrificed trivial things, as my father would say,
But to me, it was the life I wanted.

There’s so many things to say; things that can’t be conveyed in a few sentences.
It turns out that motherhood is not an instinct.
I’m depressed, and alone.
I’m still depressed despite my child’s love and laughter, and there’s no place but here to confess it.

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