I am writing this because I know there are other women out there, or you know someone, who will go through post-partum depression.
It needs to be talked about more so those of us that feel like we hit rock bottom don't think we are alone (I personally feel Satan uses isolation and loneliness to the "T"). So here is a little of my story and hopefully it is edifying and encouraging to at least one of you or to someone you know:
I can't say I was entirely ready to be a mom. My husband and I were totally blessed and were able to get pregnant not too far into our marriage. But, we had been married only 9 months when we found out. I was never someone dying to have kids, partly because they totally intimidate me and secondly because I knew it wasn't easy. Nonetheless, we were very thankful and I was super excited to have Matt as my partner for it.
Our dear little girl, Miss Ruth Charlotte, was born on February 8th at 4 o'clock in the afternoon after I had been induced that morning. The labor wasn't awful (I can say that one year after) but I promised at that point to never do it again. Personally, I would opt to never be induced again but Ruth was moving around so much that I was in a lot of pain so I thought it would be "easier" with her on the other side.
Not so much the case.
The first, and what turned out to be the only, night at the hospital was one of no sleep...and I was quite sore (for those of you who have had an episiotomy you might understand more). Ruth was not a sleeper from the start and actually quite fussy. I got a total of three hours of sleep in what felt like an old motel room-but my nurses were EXCELLENT so there was the upside.
Needless to say, I thought we would get more sleep at home.
Not. True. The next six weeks were a collection of 1-2 hour chunks of sleep at night filled with a screaming baby in between, attempting to figure out why she was crying, having struggles breast-feeding (I went to the lactation nurses four times in the first week), and never being able to sleep and when I did have the chance-insomnia kicked in. The sleep deprivation, which as my mother wisely pointed out is a form of torture, left me waking up sweating and in complete panic multiple times each night.
I was also skinnier than before I got pregnant within three weeks after delivery-all because I barely ate or slept (not recommended for weight loss).
I would have panic attacks and start balling every night when it started getting dark. I couldn't nap during the day because Ruth would never sleep more than 30 minutes. I couldn't take baths because of the delivery-baths are MY THERAPY.
All of this together left me a total mess. I didn't even know if I wanted to be a mom. I didn't understand people when they would say, "You must be so in love?!" I was so heart-broken, not so in love. I was grieving my marriage and the life we had. I was a girl who was always filled with hope and I had no idea how to look forward and believe that things would get better.
My mom HAD to stay the night for six weeks because I was always on the brink of a major breakdown and I absolutely couldn't do it by myself. I would call her crying at 8pm and she would say, "Are you sure you don't need me?" and through the tears I would say, "I think I will be okay." And she would say, "I am coming over sweetie. I will be there in 20."
And she was, every night (except for the amazing three nights that Matt's mom helped out). She would get there at 9pm and leave at 5:15am to go to work. Our nights were filled with Ruth getting up 4-5 times, I would feed her, try burping her, change her diaper, and then my mom would try putting the screaming little lady back to sleep. Between the two of us, we would each get about 4 hours of sleep total/night for six weeks.
It honestly took me until just over a year after to even process through how horribly sad I was. It took me a long time to even be able to pray again because I felt so alone during that period and felt like God had left me. I have learned that depression isolates our hearts, manipulates our minds, and tricks us into thinking that no one is with us, not even the One who died on the cross because He loved us so much.
Here is a list of things that helped me get through it and get out of it-just in case you are this woman or you happen to know someone:
1) Accept help. At all hours. I had girlfriends come and just hold Ruth for an hour so I could try to sleep.
2) Read truth. Read your Bible. Don't listen to the lies. They will destroy your heart and then eventually seep into every other beautiful part of your life. Please know that Satan is real (I have never felt something so real as I did during that period) and he is after your heart and as the verse goes, "He comes to seek, kill and destroy."
3) Sing worship songs. I got quite mad at my mom when she said this but it truly did help. When you are helplessly depressed it seems like the last thing to do...which means it is probably the first thing to do. If you aren't worshipping Jesus, or even just trying, then you are worshipping a seemingly deplorable situation which will just leave you in a crazy cycle.
4) Find things you love and do them. Baths, coffee, reading, exercising, etc.
5) Ask for help. Again I say this. You need it. More than you have ever needed it.
6) Pray. Even if you really don't know Jesus, just say "God help." He does.
7) Don't feel guilt. Guilt and shame are not from God and will not help. Grace and truth are. Seek these.
I hope this helps even one of you and please know, you are not alone. It is the hardest job anyone can ever have and it literally takes all of you and then some more. But it is beautiful. And now I am overwhelmed by the beauty. I am grateful because I think this really hard time made this beautiful time exponentially brighter (even in the gray, Oregon, winter months).
Grace and Peace,