I never thought postpartum would happen to me.
My midwife had shared the typical advice about the chance of experiencing "baby blues'' after childbirth.
Baby blues commonly includes mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Baby blues typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. But IF those symptoms lasted longer, it could mean possible postpartum depression and I would then need to touch base with my doctor or counselor.
I think I was okay hearing about the “baby blues.” It sounded pretty normal considering my body was about to do one of the most amazing things ever; giving birth to a LIFE.
As much as I prayed and prepared for a successful home birth, when the time came, I never went into labor. Disappointed much? Absolutely, I was! I had already overcome so many obstacles including the verbal put downs and jokes about even considering a home birth.
Honestly though, I was not mentally prepared to go to the hospital. It was the last thing I wanted. I was overdue and had to be induced at almost 43 weeks. It took an entire 5 days in the hospital to actually get my body to accept inductions and get into physical labor.
It was the hardest, most exhausting week of my life.
Of course, when my daughter arrived, my heart exploded into a confetti of true love. I was in awe and wonder of God’s greatest miracle to ever happen in my lifetime. I was on cloud nine!
Seven days later, my husband had to return to work. And just a few days after that, my Mom had to fly back home and return to work as well. I was on my own, but I kept my hopes up and wanted to stay excited about this new journey that I was on.
I was getting to know a brand new person and she depended entirely on me.
I did all of the things…napping when the baby napped, asking for help from my Mother-in-Law for hot meals. Getting that nice long hot shower in. My best friend even visited me every chance she could while she was in town. She would bring me hot coffee and snacks and would listen and let me cry all of the tears I needed to.
That seemed normal to me.
Soon, I began having breastfeeding issues which led to an unexpected and severe mastitis infection. And because I was allergic to the typical medical treatment, I was informed that I had to stop breastfeeding. I had to pump and dump all of my milk production for two weeks until the infection was cleared.
I literally cried at the sink every time I had to empty the milk down the drain.
As I poured out the milk, uncontrollable tears fell down my face. Sometimes even leaving me breathless. Not only was I in a lot of pain, but I felt like I was a complete failure for not being able to feed my baby the way I had wanted to. My doctor encouraged me that I could return to breastfeeding again, but it didn't happen.
I found myself exclusively pumping every 2 hours and bottle feeding. On this type of schedule with a newborn, I hardly ever slept. Feeding my daughter and not contracting mastitis again were the only things I was thinking about.
I slowly began to spiral. I lost confidence in myself. Going out in public or even to the grocery store became extremely difficult. Anxiety started to creep in and I started to isolate myself. I stopped answering phone calls and text messages. I became ashamed because I had the best opportunity at hand. Unlike many Mothers, I got to be a stay-at-home Mom and be with my daughter. I didn't want anyone to think I was taking this for granted or seem like I was complaining about it.
But, it was in the silence, those moments I was all alone, that I started noticing these really icky feelings stirring deep down.
Some felt like anger, resentment and deep sadness. My mind would shout the most awful things.... Like, “You do NOT deserve to be a Mother.” or “It would be better for everyone if you were dead.” “You are not capable.” etc.
Something was wrong with me.
“No, I am just tired, I just need to sleep...”, I would tell myself. Over and over I tried to believe that. And I just kept pushing through.
This was more than the “Baby Blues.”
One night while I was pumping alone at 2am, I had a very clear vision and plan play out in my mind on how I was to commit suicide.
Silent tears streamed down my face. “Was I that worthless? God are you even here? Do you see what's happening to me? WHY ME?”
I forget to this day how I was interrupted. But I remember there was this moment, and I rushed into our bedroom and woke my husband up. I was uncontrollably crying and just told him, “I NEED HELP RIGHT NOW. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME. I WANT TO DIE.”
He immediately jumped up out of bed and walked with me back to the living room. He began to pray over me and console me as I wept uncontrollably on the floor. He stayed awake with me and searched out resources so I could get the right help.
I was so afraid to even go to a counselor. Because what I have written here is a mere glimpse of my daily life lived with postpartum depression. The battle was fierce and I was afraid to even share the truth of this with anyone. I believed the lie that if I shared what was really going on, I could lose my daughter. I could lose my family.
I saw a christian counselor within days of that incident. I truly wanted someone that shared the same values. Someone that would pray for me. Speak life to me. But more than anything, provide a safe place to just hear me on neutral ground.
My counselor gave me some great tools and advice to help overcome postpartum. And I tried every single one. I wanted this to end. I hated the “new me” I had become.
The one tool that began to truly heal me, was listening to worship music.
I hardly had any words to ever pray. But when I listened to worship music, I didn't have to do anything. I could just be. I played it all day, everyday for weeks and months. Whether I was rocking the baby, feeding the baby/pumping, napping... the musical words poured out over my heart and began to change my mind. And I began to change my mind about God.
The song Defender by Jesus Culture resonated with my heart the most during that season. Song was surely the weapon to my victory.
I also started to write in a journal again.
And everyday, I wrote 3 things I was thankful for. Believe me, some days I did not even want to write anything down.
One entry says, “I am thankful for another chance.” “I am thankful for breathing.” "I am thankful to be alive.”
Although postpartum was a mere possibility to me, the battle waged against me for over 14 months.
I personally believe that this was a spiritual battle over my life. Over my calling. And I remember the very day it left me physically. It was the first day I could face small opposition and seek joy over sorrow. Like, little triggers didn't bother me like they used to. I didn't have an emotional breakdown over spilt milk. I could keep going, and I kept going with a new pep in my step. I REJOICED in thanksgiving to Papa God for this deliverance. It was like my cup was overflowing!
I smiled a true smile again and my eyes lost that dull sorrow and regained joy.
You know, we can be informed about postpartum all we want and never know what it truly means to go through it, until we go through it. Easier said than done, right?
To be honest, I don't like to revisit or recall that season of my life very often. It can be hard to talk about. And even writing this was hard. I cried a lot while writing this. Because the memories are still so fresh and I can visually remember details I didn’t share here.
BUT if you are reading this far and you are battling postpartum, hear me out. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
That is the truth. The enemy loves to isolate us and deconstruct our minds to believe his lies. Do not give him a foothold like that anymore. You are WORTHY and you are the best Mother for your child/ren. God chose you! You are His best idea!
He gave you this beautiful assignment, because HE knows you can do it.
He trusts you. He believes in you. He will give you ALL that you need to overcome and be victorious.
Will you choose to trust HIM?
"Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered; Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.” Psalm 68:1
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
I decree today that your heart is filled up with song. That you well up with rejoicing, celebration, joy and singing. May you become overjoyed for the marvelous things that the Lord has done. I break the power of all sadness and gloominess that would steal the song in your heart. I say that every spirit of defeat is bound and not allowed to fill your mind in Jesus’ name. May the song in your heart overtake all negative emotions and give you a renewed sense of confident victory. I prophesy that you will receive new songs inspired by Holy Spirit. Songs that declare the wonderful works of God in your life. I declare that you receive fresh revelation through song. I decree songs, new songs, hymns, spiritual songs, harmonies and melodies spring forth from within you, ALL to the glory and praise of the Lord. May the song of Papa God well up within you today, forever and always.
(Excerpts used from “The Daily Decree” by Brenda Kunneman)
You go before I know
That You've even gone to win my war
You come back with the head of my enemy
You come back and You call it my victory
You go before I know
That You've even gone to win my war
Your love becomes my greatest defense
It leads me from the dry wilderness
And all I did was praise
All I did was worship
All I did was bow down
All I did was stay still
Hallelujah, You have saved me
So much better Your way
Hallelujah, Great Defender
So much better this way
You know before I do
Where my heart can seek to find Your truth
Your mercy is the shade I'm living in
You restore my faith and hope again
And When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart
Songwriters: Rita Springer / Steffany Gretzinger / John-paul Gentile Defender lyrics © Bethel Music Publishing