This year we will be celebrating our oldest son’s 16th birthday. I can’t believe it’s just a few months away. He’s already talking about taking his driving lessons this summer. I’m not ready for this young man to grow up and leave. But, years ago, when he was just a little human being carried around and pooping on himself, I struggled with thoughts that I wasn’t quite sure if I could handle being his mom. In fact, just a few days into him arriving to this earth, I experienced some of the worse thoughts and fell into a deep depression.
I was confused! This wasn’t what everyone told me about when it came to welcoming your new bundle of joy into the world. I loved being pregnant, feeling him move and pocking at him from time to time. Watching him move around as he listen to his daddy sing to him. So, for sure having him in my arms would be even more fun and exciting, right? Well, that wasn’t the case for me for the first several months after giving birth. Something just wasn’t clicking and I didn’t quite understand what it was. I thought perhaps maybe I was doing something wrong, or maybe I just needed a few days and it would eventually hit me and I would be elated and overjoyed with this bundle of joy God blessed us with. But, days turned into weeks, and before I knew it, I was a few months into parenting and experiencing some of the most horrible depression. Confused, and disconnected from life is what I felt. I wanted to go outside and enjoy life, yet I didn’t want to move off that couch for anything, because didn’t know how I was going to do that with this crying baby on my breast. For hours I would sit holding him, afraid he was going to cry (which 4 children later, I realized was completely normal). But, when he would cry, I would cry and I couldn’t stop crying, and I felt like I just wanted to go lay down and die. At one point, I didn’t even want to touch my baby because I thought I would hurt him. I didn’t know how to share those feelings with my husband, because I thought it would disappoint him and change how he saw me. I didn’t want to talk to other women about it because I wanted them to believe I had it all under control, PRETEND that everything was great! But the real was I felt like a failure as a mom. I felt horrible for the thoughts and feelings I was having. I would try to pray, and read my bible, but the depression just wouldn’t lift. I couldn’t control my mood, and it was driving me crazy!
Eventually, I couldn’t hide it anymore and my husband began to talk to me and I opened up. This was his first child too and experience as a parent, and husband, so I’m pretty sure he felt helpless as well. Until he shared my struggles with someone, and shared this with a friend of ours, who happened to be much older and had children of her own. She came by to visit one day and sat down with me and talked with me. She took the baby from me so I could take a shower and have some time to myself, and then she began to share with me that she believed I was suffering from Postpartum Depression. She said millions of women suffer from this same thing after giving birth. It involved things like difficulty sleeping, which I surely was suffering from for months with a new born. It also may impact loss of appetite, and I wasn’t up to eating very much, just changing diapers, and feeding, which proved to be problem because I didn’t want to eat, and that impacted how I was able to nurse my son. Also mood swings, which was truly me all the way. She also explained that it takes a little while for the hormones in the body to get back in order, and that an impact so many different things. It also didn’t help that I was one of those women who couldn’t take birth control, and we later found out that the depo shot was having adverse reactions on me and thus we discovered I couldn’t take any kind due to my systems rejection of it and impact on my mental health. So, I was being hit with a double whammy between my own hormones and the ones being put into my system from the shot.
I can only imagine where I would have been if she had not come by that day and talked with me. I was so disappointed in myself, and the experience that was taking place during that time, that I just wanted to let go. But, because she was willing to step in and guide me through this time, I made it to the other side. I spoke with my doctor, they removed me from all birth control and began to help me get back on track. I am thankful for the support of my husband, who took it upon himself to reach out to get help for me, when I couldn’t get it for myself. I am also thankful for a friend who was willing to step on my toes, and dig deep and not allow me to stay in the hole I was in. It also taught me that it’s ok to reach out for help, no matter where I am in life, or what I am going through. That the word help isn’t an indication that I am weak or not a good Christian. But, it proves that I can be vulnerable, and honest about where I am and what’s happening in my life, so I can get the help I need. No need to PRETEND that all is well, when it isn’t.