Friday, July 6, 2012

postpartum depression

i am a generally laid back, happy person.

i have always been this way.  things just don't usually frazzle me... (or maybe i am in a constant state of frazzle-ness so i don't notice). someone once said i had a 'forehead of flint' and a joyful stubbornness - i am going to honor God with my attitude and nothing will stop me.

until i had my first child.

my pregnancy was beautiful.  he was healthy and growing well.  i was in good shape and feeling amazing as my body did what it was created to do.  my job was incredible - i worked in creative arts ministry and did a lot of secretary work at my church - it was wonderful.  my husband and i were joyously waiting for our little bundle of giggles to join us in our journey.

and when the little man did the postpartum depression.

postpartum depression is something i skimmed over in the baby books.  i didn't even glance at the postpartum depression papers at the hospital.  i couldn't imagine dealing with it myself.

looking back, i can see early signs of postpartum depression all the way back to my time in the hospital.  looking at my handsome little boy i just didn't feel that intense 'i will kill anyone that hurts this child' love.  so i faked it.  i smiled and coo'd and kissed and fed and snuggled...but didn't really feel much.

when it was time to come home i thought to myself 'are they really going to send this baby home with me?  what am i going to do with him?'. 

thankfully my husband was able to spend 2 whole weeks at home with us and then my mother and mother-in-law were around constantly.  but eventually i was alone with the baby.  i stared at him.  i fed him.  i changed him.  that was about it and i was so ashamed.  i drove under a railroad bridge almost every day...every time i drove under it...i had to fight to keep my car on the road because i wanted to die.

as i am writing this, my now 3 year old boy is sitting on my feet watching tv.  he is so amazing.  his joy for life is contagious and he has the sweetest heart.  he loves me and he knows i love him (i just asked him and he said yes with a smile).  he also knows that Jesus loves him which is even more important. i can't imagine not loving him like i do now...but when i look at his baby pictures and see me in the background it is really obvious.  i was completely numb.

God did 3 awesome things to help pull me thru my postpartum depression.

1 - He gave me relief with a good friend.  our friendship developed out of marriage mentoring.  she has older kids so she's been thru it all before.  and she had this trick.  when she'd hold my baby boy he'd stop crying.  it was like magic...or more like God's grace.  she also focused more on me than on my baby.  she'd bring me little gifts, spend time talking with me about non-baby things and make me feel like a real person.

2 - He forced me into reality.  i went back to work thinking it would help and my pastors all realized that i was miserable.  almost every day they would check on me and wouldn't accept 'i'm fine' as an answer.  they also helped me cast away a lot of my guilt and shame for not being the joyful new mommy i was expecting to be.

3 - He started speaking thru my son.  one day in particular, my son was crying and i was miraculously able to comfort him.  he snuggled into my chest and i remembered the scripture -

Isaiah 49:15
Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, 
walk away from the baby she bore? 
But even if mothers forget,  I'd never forget you—never.

it was like God was saying.  'I am the same no matter what.  no matter how you feel about your baby, I still love him and My grace will cover where your love is lacking for now.' and also 'daughter, I'll never forget you.  I'm still here with you as you go thru this.'

this scripture had a new impact on me.  and that was a good thing.  i needed impact.

so i started to embrace my postpartum depression (i know...sounds crazy...right?) i started asking for help.  i started crying.  i started telling my husband and others how miserable i was.  i started trying to learn to love my baby boy thru someone else's eyes by taking pictures of him as if he were someone else's baby.

eventually the cloud of postpartum depression dissipated.  it wasn't an instantaneous healing but by the time my little man was walking...i was able to enjoy him...for real.

i was prepared for postpartum depression when i had the twins...but it never came.  sure i had stress...but i was never numb...never miserable.  and with my youngest i was also prepared but didn't have a hint of depression until recently when he started having health issues.

my best friend from college just had a nearly identical situation...joyful pregnancy, healthy baby, miserable introduction to motherhood.  and God has been able to use all of my expertise in surviving with postpartum depression to help her thru it.

because of my experience, when any of my friends have a baby i let everyone else fuss over the baby.  i don't give baby clothes or cute bibs.  i give body lotion, mommy hair clips and chocolate.  it is fun to fuss over the mommys.

so i guess, now i can thank God for the gift of postpartum depression

James 1:2-8
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

this look is what we call 'the smoulder' ...hehehe...

if you are struggling with postpartum depression, or any depression...i pray you will find relief thru a good friend, be able to accept or even embrace your reality, learn to hear God speak to you thru your circumstances and eventually even thank Him for the gift He's given you. 

*if you're going thru's okay to roll your eyes at me...
i've been there and i'm here if you want to talk about it.


  1. He's a cutie! It is good that you can see on the other side of your postpartum depression how you could help others going through it. I think that's why God allows things like this so that we can help others. A former pastor related it to the "walking wounded" who are then able to go out and help others going through a same thing. I know when a dear friend lost a baby at 26 weeks, she had people helping her that had gone through similar things and then in turn, when she had "healed" she was able to help others, etc.

    I hope everything works out with the health issues with your little one.


    1. thanks so much. i can't imagine losing a baby at 26 weeks...heartbreaking. makes me greatful for my healthy babies.

  2. What a wonderful, honest post. Hopefully, many women through the cyberworld will get a chance to read this and feel hope and understanding. It is funny, as evident by your post, we often have no idea how God will use us :) May this be used to glorify Him in an unimaginable way!!!


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