“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
I’ve debated for months to share this post. And, to be honest, after I write this down, it’ll be even tougher to hit the “publish” button.
But I feel like I owe it to any other women out there who have gone through or are currently going through the same thing.
Photo credit: Alisha Rudd Photography
Exactly 11 months ago, our precious little Regan came into the world. I prayed for this girl before even the faintest line on the pregnancy test appeared. The 9 months of pregnancy were an absolute breeze, and after having Olivia 6 years before, I felt like, “I’ve got this. No problem.”
Ahhh yes… second child delusions.
So when we came home from the hospital after delivery with Regan, I had no idea life would hit me like a freight train. Life with a newborn is challenging, yes. But this was different.
To be fair, delivery was tough, and I was nearly rushed to the operating room minutes after Regan emerged because of some complications. But the doctors thought they resolved it without having to take more extensive medical interventions and sent me on my merry way 24 hours after giving birth.
The next months that followed came with a colicky baby with undiagnosed acid reflux and dairy intolerance resulting in a stress-filled breastfeeding journey, chronic ear infections that led to a tube procedure, and endless nights of our little girl awake screaming in pain every 45 minutes.
I ended up back at the hospital in the operating room 8 weeks after delivery to correct my postpartum complications, prolonging my recovery. And with 11 months of exclusive pumping under my belt, I had 5 horrible cases of mastitis induced by stress.
Every formula we tried, Regan had a sensitivity to, so I told myself, “Either she has to be in pain or I do; I’ll suffer through it.” So I lived attached to a machine for 2-3 hours per day, which is never anyone’s idea of fun.
And probably the most crushing of them all, I realized at the 8 month mark that I’d been dealing with Postpartum Depression on top of everything.
I tell you all of this not to get a reaction of “poor pitiful you”. Because I legitimately had NO IDEA that was the name of what I was experiencing.
Because depression means you’re sad, right? But the thing is I was absolutely emotion-less. In those 8 months, I had gone completely emotionally numb. I loved my two little girls and Robert, but I had to really dig deep to feel sadness or happiness or anything other than downright anxiety about every single thing.
It’s not like I was suicidal… I was just in survival mode.
Photo credit: Lindsey Morgan Photography
I’d forget to eat and unintentionally starve myself until I realized when I’d get the shakes that I hadn’t eaten in 18 hours.
I was always exhausted, but I could never rest because my mind would be racing with a million and one thoughts in my head in full-blown panic.
I had zero interest in doing anything socially, answering emails, responding to comments or text messages, and when I did, it absolutely drained me.
I would get waves of outright irrepressible rage for things like my 6 year-old taking longer than 10 seconds to get out of the car. I cursed the thought of having to shower or put on makeup because I didn’t have an ounce of energy to do it. I hated being touched. I felt resentment with guilt immediately following, and worst of all…
I was so embarrassed that I buried all of it as deep as I possibly could. So I smiled, put on a happy performance, and tried to fool everyone, including myself.
I had everyone believing, including my own husband, that I was totally 100% fine.
But in my head, I prayed that God would finally let me rest, finally let me be the mother my girls needed, finally let me be the wife my husband needed. Make me stronger and help me be one of those moms who make it seem so effortless, Lord, please!
But I told absolutely no one, not even Robert.
I tried everything within my power to resolve it on my own, and while some days were better than others, it came in waves and never completely went away.
Then when my last bout of mastitis hit, and I had to see my doctor for the 7th time since delivery, she asked me one question before my appointment was over, “How are you doing?”
And a little voice in my head said, “Tell the truth.” I admitted it. “I think I need some help.”
It was the biggest relief to spill everything to my doctor and finally put the feelings into words.
Not even a week later, after starting a low-dose antidepressant, I felt like I could finally take my first deep breaths, like I had been underwater all this time. Robert and my parents have been my support system through all of it.
I started taking time to read my devotionals, pray, meditate and get my mind “right” for just a few minutes every day alongside the medication.
And now 3 months after my diagnosis, even though life with a baby is still stressful, it’s the normal kind of stressful, not the I-want-to-run-away kind of stressful.
For the first time in a long time, I’m excited about this phase of life. A part of me wants to scoop my baby girls right out of their beds right this second and kiss those squishy, butter soft cheeks. I have every intention of sneaking into their rooms for a quickie cuddle sesh as soon as I’m finished writing this. 😉
So there. Phew! It’s out there now. And while it’s not a story I EVER thought I’d tell, one I never thought would be a chapter in my book, maybe by my sharing it, it helps someone recognize too that it’s not normal.
Hormones are weird, and they can do all sorts of things to trick our brains until we become someone we don’t even recognize. If you’re struggling, know that it is not your fault and talk to someone – your spouse, your doctor, your mom, your best friend.
There is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s taken quite awhile for me to come to terms with that part. Don’t ever be too proud to ask for help, no matter what sort of help that may be.
Our babies need their mommies at their very best. You deserve to look back on these days in the future to remember the snuggles, the giggles, the heart-bursting cup-overflowing love of every sweet, fleeting moment. Soak it up, mamas.
I am so thankful for y’all and your encouragement over these last 11 months (and prior). Whether you knew it or not, your kind words were what kept me going some days. So please accept this big bear hug. I still don’t know how on earth anyone reads this little blog of mine, but I sure am glad y’all stick around. 😉
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