I am not a psychiatrist, a medical specialist, or even a scientist, but I have a sneaking suspicion that post-partum depression, while obviously a complex condition, is rooted at least in part in one phenomenon: distorted expectations from lack of sufficient and accurate information.
Likely owing to society’s desire to increase the population of humans, and general squeamishness and avoidance of gross subjects, most women are exposed to only a very topical and rosy view of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood throughout their lives leading up to the decision to reproduce. Everyone’s heard of “pregnancy glow.” On the other hand, things like pregnancy constipation, pregnancy constant flatulence, pregnancy insomnia, pregnancy leaking of urine, and pregnancy leaking of amniotic fluid are less frequently mentioned, if at all. After labor, everyone knows about the “bundle of joy,” but probably not the bundle of shit on the delivery table.
Unless a woman happens to keep company with a horde of brutally honest women who don’t mind sharing things like a desire to literally die during childbirth because of the horrible pain (thanks mom!); how badly their vaginas tore, got infected, then tore again; among other horrifying stories not fit for dinner conversation, a woman may find herself pregnant and learning these very real possibilities for the first time. Society wants you to think of the glow, not the farting, leaking, pain, tearing, and shitting, because if women carefully considered all these downsides, some undoubtedly would have second thoughts. It is true the more women know and contemplate the implications of these realities, the more careful they are going to be about their decision to reproduce, but this should not be a bad thing.
Again, I’m not a medical professional, but I speculate jumping into pregnancy imagining the glow and the rewards of motherhood, then being subsequently ambushed by a slew of physical ailments, followed by serious physical compromise or injury during labor, topped off with the reality of becoming responsible for a squirming, screaming, crying, shitting bundle of mess all while suffering sleep deprivation and possible problems with breastfeeding, is an easy recipe for depression.
This is exactly why all women should seek out all the relevant information, both positive and negative before deciding to have children. Having worked in the field of healthcare law for many years, I know the detailed and precise description of risks and complications, both common and rare, discussed with women before they have so much as an appendix removal, brow lift, or boob job. For almost all surgeries, no matter how minor, physicians will review risks, benefits, and alternatives, providing an overview of common complications, expected outcomes, and even some remote risks, such as death. They are required to do this for every procedure, even life-saving surgeries most people in their right mind would never refuse. The basic rationale behind this practice is that people should know what they are getting into, and that includes not only common and expected risks and outcomes, but at least an idea of remote and unlikely complications as well.
Yet, as it relates to reproduction, a completely elective choice in this day and age, women hear merely about “pregnancy glow,” “bundle of joy,” and perhaps vague references to fatigue and morning sickness before committing to something of significant medical, physical, and emotional impact not only for the next 9 months, but indeed, possibly for the next 18 years. With this in mind, it’s actually amazing more women do not suffer post-partum depression.
Of course, while society has a tendency to give women inaccurate impressions, women need to take responsibility for their own decisions. I doubt many women look into the full panoply of risks, complications, and outcomes associated with pregnancy, labor, and the post-partum period in great detail before deciding to become pregnant; I know I didn’t, and I am actually someone who really took my sweet time deciding to have children at all. I had cataloged in the back of my mind a collection of horror stories from honest women over the years, and went into this with an understanding of a lot of worst case scenarios, because that’s my personality. I figured if I could accept the possibility of these worst case scenarios, then I would not have any regrets, but as far as being actually informed, this is totally not sufficient, and I met with plenty of surprises upon finding myself pregnant.
As with most things in life, preparation is key, and I surmise the more women know, the more they can do to prepare emotionally and physically, and the less shock and disappointment they will experience, which in turn would reduce the likelihood of post-partum depression.
I consider myself emotionally balanced most of the time, though I am prone to sentimentality over cats and rage over matters involving violations of human and civil rights. I think pregnancy has slightly magnified these tendencies of mine and today, I came across a moving story that encompassed both of these issues. Cats, human rights violations, and pregnancy were a trifecta that really pushed me over the edge in this case.
The Guardian shared a story of an unfortunate refugee family who had to flee Iraq due to circumstances of violence. They could not imagine parting with their family pet, a beautiful white cat (though I am partial to black ones), so a mother, five children, and their beautiful white cat named Kunkush left Iraq and headed to Greece together in November of 2015.
100,000 refugees arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos that month, and according to The Guardian video (below), “Kunkush was scared and got separated from his family.” This statement is written in big, unmistakable letters in this compelling video of human and animal resilience. The family had to move on, since Greece was merely a brief stopover point, and they did not yet know where there final destination would be, as is often the case with victims who are displaced by war.
Kunkush was located in a village nearby several days later, and was picked up by a veterinarian. After two months, a volunteer traveled with Kunkush to Berlin, and a search for his family began.
It turns out, his family had relocated to Norway, and in February, Kunkush was reunited with his family. This video (you have to watch it) is so incredibly touching, as it shows the loving reunion between Kunkush and his family after a long and seemingly impossible journey. The mother can hardly wait to get him out of the carrier, and once he is in her arms she cries, “Kunkush, my life! My darling!” as she kisses him. I almost fucking cried at work watching this damn thing.
There is nothing more beautiful than a happy ending like this; a family forced from their homes under tragic circumstances finds a new home, and their beloved cat makes it home to them under the most improbable of circumstances. You can read more here.
Yet, for every miraculous, beautiful moment, there is some ugly, vile, person with cow shit in the place of where their heart should be to tear it down. The story was posted by And My Cat on Facebook:
While many enjoyed the story and shared positive thoughts, many of the comments were imbecilic, egregiously ignorant, and reprehensible. For instance, Exhibit A, Rita Maji DeLisi, a royal cunt who enjoys Ohio sports commented, “Sad…pathetic owners leave pets behind. Get yourself a statue next time. You don’t deserve the love pets provide.” Another equally cunty Facebook user apparently agreed with her and liked her garbage post.
Not to be outdone, Exhibit B, Corrina Peacock Ashley stated, “They shouldn’t have left him!!!” and Exhibit C, Bettyann Brunette Lilley called the family “pieces of crap” and “fools” for leaving their fur baby. That’s right; in reaching an unprecedented low, Lilley actually called children fleeing from war “pieces of crap” and “fools” because they lost their cat. It is truly un-fucking-believable.
First, maybe if Rita’s military was not bombing the shit out of Iraq and murdering civilians over there, this poor family probably would not have had to fucking flee to begin with. It’s easy for compassionless, disgusting north Americans to judge a family under these circumstances while stuffing themselves full of Doritos and Pizza Hut in the safety of their own homes, which have never been damaged, destroyed, or even threatened with foreign bombs or troops.
Second, it’d be nice if these fucking idiots would do the world a favor and learn to read. The video clearly indicates the cat was scared and ran off. He was not abandoned for fuck’s sake. If they were capable of reading even at a second-grade level, they would have learned from the video that Greece was not this family’s final destination. In all likelihood, they did not have legal status to stay in Greece indefinitely as undocumented aliens and search aimlessly for their runaway cat. Rita is possibly the type of American who supported Trump and his abominable wall and seethes with hatred at illegal immigrants, but she somehow expects this family to overstay their legal welcome in Greece to search for a fucking cat. Does this make any goddamn sense?
Even if the poor cat were in fact abandoned, is it too much to ask to have a bit of sympathy for a family literally fleeing for their lives? Let’s not forget that refugees drowned in Turkey and even Lesbos, where this family landed, and cats are not known to be the best swimmers. Maybe at that point, the family was relieved Kunkush had at least run away on land and not died. It’s easy to judge another human being, but no one really knows what they would do if forced into the same situation of war, violence, and displacement. But I suppose that’s far too beyond the mind of North Americans living their revoltingly militaristic and supercilious lives, marked by extraordinary obesity in both a metaphoric and literal sense – the overindulgent, masturbatory corpulence of the self-righteous American manifests itself both mentally and physically.
In sum, fuck these people.