Those were just some of the lies I had told myself back in 2006-2007. The truth is, I'm a happy strong girl who got postpartum depression who thankfully had a tribe to lean on. I had a tribe of people in my corner who helped me recognize and get through a very muddy and gloomy time in my life. It's taken me a long time to share this story because it's a time I'm not proud of. As you read this, please remember every situation is different and we each have our own trail to blaze.
I always wanted a baby, which sounds especially weird seeing as how I placed one for adoption when I was 20. I pretty much regretted that while it was happening and every day since, but not really...I wouldn't have made much of a mom back then. Right before my 30th birthday I found this super fun guy who really thought I was awesome. We were best friends from the word go, even though we both wanted different things out of life. He was the bad boy, I was the church girl. Eventually I wore him down and he agreed to help me try to get pregnant. I assured him I had been trying for a decade with no luck and we were pretty sure nothing was going to come of our efforts, but trying sounded like a heck of a great time!
I may have thought there was no way I'd get pregnant, but God had a different plan. I was pregnant and over the moon with joy. My boyfriend was over the moon, but not with joy. He scheduled his vasectomy a few months before our daughter was born. I'll spare you the details, but I was on bed rest the second half of the pregnancy and physically IN The hospital on bedrest for several months. The nurses commented about what a great patient I was, because I was so happy. I took each day as it came and enjoyed this little girl growing in my belly.
Shortly after my daughter was born, the relationship with her father ended. My girlfriend picked us up and we picked up the pieces. I spent the summer living in a camper in my friend's backyard, having my car repossessed, and filing for bankruptcy while nursing a broken heart and a baby. Work was the only thing I may have been succeeding at, but in hindsight they may have just felt sorry for me. Somewhere amidst all the chaos that was my life, this really weird day happened - it's a foggy haze (not marijuana induced or anything...but weird nonetheless).
My babies don't sleep. Now I can say that, because I've had 4 of them and I swear they are potty trained before they sleep through the night. I had to say that so you'll understand the story a little better.
My alarm went off on a workday and I realized my daughter Carmen hadn't woken me up with her middle of the night cries for feeding. I rolled over and hit snooze and thought "oh good, she died in her sleep, I can get some rest".
Then I sat upright in bed and realized what I had just said to myself. I ran to her crib and she was sleeping peacefully and was very much alive. I was overjoyed, but still tired. I chastised myself the entire time I was going through the motions of our day. How could I have been on bedrest for so long praying for this baby and now I had wished her dead? It was such an unsettling feeling. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like an awful person. As you know, when you think ill of yourself, you sort of send yourself down the rabbit hole. I packed us up and drove to the town I was working in. I dropped Carmen off at the daycare and chatted happily with the staff. Nothing was different on the outside, and yet I felt I was wearing a mask. I knew no one else could see that it was just a disguise, but I could. I was pretending to be a good mom and good person. Behind that mask I was not myself. I was scared and ashamed.
When I got to work, I confided in a co-worker about what was going on. She called my OBGYN and they got me in right away. A few months of counseling and medication and I was back to normal (whatever that means). During that time, there were people in my life who happily shared their opinions about the baby blues, postpartum depression, depression, anxiety, blah blah blah...and it sounded something like this "you don't need those chemicals in your body, you're fine", "you're wasting your time with those appointments, you can get through this on your own."
Thank the Lord those people didn't chance my mind or the course of my postpartum depression could have been very different. I didn't realize just how different until someone my age in a similar situation killed her baby. Yes, I went there...postpartum depression is serious. It happens to women in all walks of life with all levels of education and income. If you aren't feeling like yourself, or you have a friend who isn't feeling quite right, please get help. I'm not a doctor and I'm not an expert, but I'm here to share my story in hopes someone somewhere won't feel alone. My Carmen is going to be 10 and I have 3 more beautiful children. My story could have been much different. Here is a link with more information, and please don't be ashamed to get help: http://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/postpartum-depression-what-happens. YOU are worth it and so is your baby!
Thank you to those who were with me during that dark time and to each and every individual who became part of our story!
May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar,
and sunshine so you can make the sweetest lemonade!
You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff here, at: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/ as well as at WOW! Women on Writing: http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/. When she's not doing that, she's baking bread and cookies for her friends and neighbors. She says "the coffee is always hot and you're always welcome here!"
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