My second child was a girl again – I succumbed to postpartum depression. But not for the reasons you’d think.

postpartum depression

I think being a mom and enjoying the journey of motherhood is every woman's dream. Of course, it is the most precious gift of god. And we all love to celebrate the divine spirit of motherhood everyday. But, on another side, it is a life changing event that rocks your whole world. Sometimes, there are things that really scare us. Postpartum depression or 'baby blues' is one of the most common conditions that affect nearly 61% of women after childbirth. It is a condition of clinical depression that is often associated with sadness, anxiety, sleeplessness, mood swings and irritability. Fortunately for most mothers, these symptoms are resolved automatically within two weeks.

Health experts suggested that there are hormonal, emotional, environmental and physical factors that are responsible for it. After the birth of the baby, as the level of estrogen and progesterone drop suddenly in the body, you become tired and lethargic. Sometimes, overwhelming feelings, sleep deprivation and past history of depression are also responsible factors. But my story is different.

It was five years ago when we were perfectly content as a little family of three. We had been enjoying an awesome family life. And the day when we had realised that I am expecting our second baby, and it was our happiest moment ever. We were eagerly waiting for its arrival. Every moment, we anticipated the day our cute little three-year would become a big sister.

When the time came, and we were blessed with our second child, who was a beautiful, completely healthy baby girl. I was very happy that I had passed these nine difficult months of journey successfully. I was relaxed that labour was over without any complications and we both (my daughter and I) were fit as fiddles. But within a few days, I began to face the most difficult situation of my life.

Surabhi Prapanna
Surabhi Prapanna with her two daughters

The reaction from people around us was unnerving and difficult to digest, to say the least.  In spite of living in the 21st century, they refused to rejoice for another girl. "Oh! Again a girl child," "bad luck," and "unfortunate!" were only some of the comments they made. Some people even suggested that I should have a third child very soon. They assured me - "It will be a boy this time." Oh my god, I hated their nasty remarks. I wondered how people could be so rude without their consciences prickling even a little bit.

Being an optimistic person, I had always believed that life is full of beautiful colours, brightness and love. But this negativity had altered not only the peace of my mind but the peace of my life as well. In spite of being a doctor and living in Nagpur, the educational hub of the country, I faced moments of extreme anguish, when I thought things would never be the same again.

I began to feel that something wrong had happened with me. That I am an unfortunate person. My inner strength weakened, and I suffered from all the symptoms of postpartum depression (anger, sadness, anxiety) for a brief period of time. Usually, physical or hormonal factors are responsible for this condition, but in my case, it was not an inner feeling of uneasiness.

But very soon, I questioned why I should become a victim of depression, just because people who lent no meaning in my life said things that no one should. Why was I paying so much attention to their rude comments? I again began to look at my beautiful life with a new positive spirit. And, within days, I began to adore my new baby, my precious gift from god. Her smile and giggles filled my house with a new energy. It was amazing that my big girl had made an instant magical connection with her little sister.  It was absolutely wonderful seeing my two babies together. We, as a family, began enjoying each moment of togetherness. 

After analysing the whole situation, I sorted out five unique reasons that really helped me survive the toughest phase of my life. And these reasons are my answers to those people who craved a male child. These are my suggestions to those women struggling with motherhood simply because they didn't have a boy:

We all love our kid, not their gender

Life is a beautiful journey, and in this journey, we fall in love with someone (who is made for us), get married and have kids. We get immense joy and satisfaction after becoming parents. Watch their antics and enjoy each step of their childhood. We love our kids unconditionally. Their gender and physical appearance have no place in the parents' care.

We want a sibling for our older baby

It is a prominent reason for having a second baby. Whenever our first child gets bored, feels alone or when we think about his/her future (that he/she will need lifelong support) we plan a second baby. We know that friends come and go, but family is forever. From birthday celebration to walking them down the aisle, siblings stand by each other through all of life's incredible moments. Having a sibling ensures that they will have a blood relative to rely on even after we have passed away.

Here, again, having a sibling, a lifelong companion, is important. It does not matter that he/she will get a brother or sister. 

Boys don't necessarily care better for their parents than girls

It is a common belief that boys are usually counted upon to take care of their parents during old age and girls are considered a financial burden and will go away after getting married. But in the true sense, it is totally a misconception. I have seen several examples in our society when parents of boys are living in an old age home, while girls are taking excellent care of their parents.

The upbringing of a child is important. His/her moral and social values, behaviour and respect for elders is mandatory. So we should always focus on a healthy upbringing for happy and educated children (it is valueless to create a gender agenda).

Because I do not want to set a wrong example for my kids, family and society

We are living in the 21st century and we talk about equal rights for women everyday. But India is still orthodox when it comes to giving equal rights to women. Dowry, female foeticide, domestic violence and so many other social evils are part of modern society. According to a report published in India Today, approximately 2500 cases of female foeticide take place everyday in Rajasthan. During routine life, we often hear this kind of news, we react and then we forget after some time. But if we actually want to eradicate social evils from our society, we need to take a step (even a tiny one) and make conscious effort.

I do not want to set a wrong example for my daughters. I do not want my kids to grow up thinking that being a woman or giving birth to a girl child is shameful. I do not wish my daughters to fixate on the need for a man to feel strong and confident. I want to make them a bold and self-sufficient people, who can take their own decisions independently. I want them to enjoy their lives peacefully, without the guilt or fear of being a woman or not having a male sibling.

Because I do not want to let my parents down

Last but not least, I am a proud daughter of loving parents. They have always supported my choices in life. They have always given me unconditional love and care. And I got equal opportunities in all fields of life. They never discriminated between me and my brother. As a responsible daughter, I also need to fulfill all my duties to my parents. So now how can I let down them with the negative and orthodox thinking of not having a male baby?

I am sure that this is not only my story, that there are so many moms who have gone through a similar phase when they were blessed with a second girl. Did you? How did you deal with it? What else can we do to improve the condition of women in India? Please share with us. I think it will help others a lot. Until then, happy parenting!

About the Author:

Dr Surbhi Prapanna is a homeopathic physician and mom of two lovely daughters. She loves to share her parenting experiences with others.