November 29, 2014

Dear Mommy: Postpartum Depression

This post has been a long time coming but also something that I am realizing many women do not talk about. Here it is, postpartum depression. I am praying that God uses this post to encourage just one person. Just one. And if it reaches two or more that is even more of a blessing. This post is hard to write. There is guilt and sadness but also healing in typing these words.

For years I have dreamed of having a baby, of starting a family, of being a mommy. I dreamt of tucking my baby into bed and reading books and snuggling and becoming best friends. So you can imagine my surprise when three days into motherhood I was falling apart and unhappy. I can't explain what was happening. I didn't understand why I felt like I was suffocating. I couldn't explain the anxiety. I couldn't explain the excess of tears. I was sitting and crying for hours in front of everyone. My husband, my family, my mother-in-law, my friends witnessed hours and hours of crying. I felt inadequate to be Skip's mommy. I felt like I couldn't do it and he would be better without me. Him and Rusty both.

Why do I tell you this? Because I didn't believe that postpartum depression was real. I thought no mother could not love their newborn. What a terrible mommy to not be overjoyed with their baby. But then I was there. Smack dab right in the middle of postpartum depression. I called my best friend one day to talk and she simply asked how it was going with Skip. I just broke down. I wasn't happy. I wanted out. I wanted to feel like myself. I couldn't understand why I wasn't bonding with my baby. She let me talk it out until the words came spilling out that I thought I had postpartum depression. I couldn't believe what I was admitting. I felt like a failure as a mother.

That night Rusty and my mom sat me down and talked to me about postpartum depression. I remember my mom asking me if I have ever felt like this to which I replied no. Because I hadn't. I didn't even think a chemical imbalance like postpartum depression existed. I thought it was an excuse. But it is so real.

A few days later I was back at the doctor explaining my feelings. My doctor held my hand. She let me cry. She listened. She explained that I had anxiety and that every mother feels it at some point. She explained that I couldn't control my feelings. I really broke when she asked if I wanted to hurt my baby. Can you imagine being asked that? I didn't want to hurt Skip but I did want to pack my car and drive away to not return. I know. It is hard to understand but postpartum is real.

It is tough. It is hard. It is emotional. It is confusing. It is all consuming. But praise God, it gets better. Thank goodness it gets better. Yes, I started taking medicine to help. That was something I never thought would happen to me. And sometimes I feel ashamed but I am also healing. I am finally bonding with the love of my life. He has relaxed. He is learning to love his mommy. I can't believe there was ever a time I didn't feel love for my beautiful child.

I started to share just a little with friends and family and I couldn't believe the women, strong, brave, fearless women who admitted to going through the same thing. It brought comfort and peace. They are all wonderful mothers who dealt with the same feelings as me and look at how healthy their children are. They even went on to have more children. It was such a relief to hear other mom's share their sorrows and depression with me. It also made me realize that something so serious shouldn't be an embarrassment. We shouldn't be ashamed of our feelings. We shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. We shouldn't be going through this alone.

So how can we change the image of postpartum depression? Understanding. Prayer. Sharing. Encouraging. Helping. Sharing. Loving. Caring. Sharing. Yes, it is hard to write this post but I want just one mom who doesn't get why she feels the way she does to get help. To ask for help. To start to love her baby. To make others aware.

It is a sickness but one that gets better. The tears fall less and less. The fear subsides. The happiness returns and mostly the love for your baby becomes all consuming versus the anxiety. It gets better friend. I can guarantee it. It 100% gets better. You start to feel like yourself again. You start to feel successful as a mother. You start to kiss your baby more. You start having more energy. You start to feel good. And the guilt, well, it melts away.

What can you do for someone going through it? Listen. Cry with them. Do the dishes. Do not judge them. Hold them. Pray for them. Do their laundry. Watch the baby while they sleep. Let them take a long hot bath. Cook them dinner. Give them time.

Mommy, it will get better. Hold on. Don't give up. That baby needs you and soon you won't feel like you are choking on that responsibility. Hang on. Your joy is coming. I promise. Your personality and happiness will return and soon this depression will just be a small memory that makes you no less of the amazing mother that you are. Your baby won't remember. You will feel love soon. Talk to your husband, family, friends. Be open. Be honest. And just remember, you are an incredible woman. One who birthed your flesh and blood. One that is providing. A mother that is wildly successful. You are the best mommy yet and postpartum depression doesn't win! Y-o-u    d-o!

1 comment:

  1. Katie, this is SO good. I dealt with this after Suzannah, my 2nd baby, was born. But I was too embarrassed to ask for help and suffered with it for 7 months! I'm thankful you had the courage to share and am praying with you that this touches a mommy out there somewhere that needs help!


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