The Good, The Bad, and The Postpartum
You would think my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology would have prepared me for postpartum depression. I spent many classes learning about postpartum depression but honestly it was so hard to imagine ever feeling that way. After all, I had desired motherhood ever since I could remember. I would have never admitted it in high school, but my dream job was to be a stay at home wife and mom. As I grew older my passion for wanting to start a family and disciple children of my own only became clearer and stronger.
For those that don’t know my story, Nate and I were worried I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, due to health issues we discovered last year. I would love to say that we always trusted the Lord and His control over our family but that was easier said than done. Hadley wasn’t what you would call a “mistake” or a “surprise”; she was a miracle! A true miracle.
Nate and I were completely amazed when the dollar store pregnancy tests showed two lines. (I kept them all & will probably keep them forever even though Nate thinks it's gross) I remember standing in the bathroom, holding my one dollar test, that showed us our life-changing future.
The next 8 months felt like the longest time of my life; filled with eagerness and joy as we awaited our little girl. https://www.whatever-is-lovely.com/new-life/2018/8/9/fireworks
Those first two weeks of motherhood hit me HARD, and I mean hard! Having a baby had changed my life and my body in so many ways. Nothing throughout my entire pregnancy led us to believe I would need a c-section. Hadley was healthy, I was healthy, and I was ready to push come late June / early July. I had not prepared for a c-section at all. I knew nothing about it. I never took the time to educate myself about the process or the recovery (which I now advise all expecting mothers to do). All this to say, I was not expecting to recover from a c-section. It was stressful, painful, and frustrating to not have control of my body.
For the first weeks of Hadley’s life my tasks were to feed her, rest, and enjoy my new baby. Multiple times a day Nate and I would say, “she’s the easiest baby” , “she never cries” , “all she does is sleep and eat”. But as an almost twenty three year old new mom, I was so exhausted. A tiredness and exhaustion that I had never felt before, even with a seemingly “perfect” baby at the time. As Hadley approached the 2 week mark, I could tell my emotional and mental state had changed. I couldn’t explain what I was feeling, why I was crying, or why I was so overwhelmed by the smallest things. Nate would constantly ask what was wrong and all I could say was, “I don’t know how to explain it, I’m just sad”. And that became my anthem for weeks.
With little sleep, an aching body, and a newborn, I thought feeling extremely overwhelmed was totally normal. At first I thought I had what some call the “baby blues”. It only took two weeks of us being home to realize that I was experiencing something a little more than “baby blues”. After weeks of denying it, I finally had to face the fact that I might have postpartum depression. I remember feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Me? Postpartum depression? No way! I loved my daughter and cared for her so deeply! There were countless prayers for her and she was finally here, so why was I upset? I couldn’t make sense of my feelings. I couldn’t make sense of anything.
I remember the day that I told Nate I thought I had postpartum depression - July 28. My mom had come over to watch Hadley so Nate and I could go on a quick date. Right before she got to our house I started crying and couldn’t stop. Uncontrollable and unexplainable crying had been happening lately, but that time it was different. That time I felt completely beside myself. As I tried to wash my face in the bathroom and put on some mascara, Nate came in and asked, yet again, what was wrong. I desperately wanted to get out of the house and feel like a somewhat normal human, after being home-bound with a newborn, but I couldn’t stop the tears. I finally had to admit what I said I didn’t believe, postpartum depression. I had to admit, what only a few weeks ago, I said wasn’t real.
His response was that of grace, love, and patience (I wouldn’t of expected anything less from him). He simply said, “I had been thinking that too”. And everyday after that he encouraged me to call my doctor and get help. My stubborn and still-ashamed self took two more weeks to finally call. I took steps to educate myself on postpartum depression (the internet is an amazing resource people), I heeded the advice and help from my doctors, and I prayed for grace upon grace every single day. Postpartum depression is real and it is hard! Truth is, it’s hard to not be the one in control, especially when it’s your body. I think the enemy does everything in his power to let us believe we are the ones in control in the first place.
Any type of depression can make you feel guilty or embarrassed, but comparing your life as a new mom to others is not going to make you any better. Comparing my child to others isn’t going to make me happier. Comparing how I felt about motherhood to others wasn’t going to give me peace. It took me a while to realize that only God is going to bring me joy in motherhood and really any part of my life. God is the only one who will ever fill my longing heart. And praise Jesus that this is true for all areas of my life!
If you think you have Postpartum depression please learn about it and get help. Please don’t wait as long as I did to reach out for help. There is no need to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or alone. If you feel like you don't know anyone else struggling and there is no one to talk to, well now you know me! If you feel like there is no one loving you and providing for you, well then there is God.
There is grace upon grace.
“For from His fullness we have all received; grace upon grace”
When the days are hard and the nights are harder, look to Him who is full of grace. It takes sleepless nights, maybe some tears, and a lot of sacrifice to love like Jesus. We’ll never be the perfect parent, friend, daughter, or spouse but there is unfailing grace upon grace upon grace.