The conception of my child was a miracle! I had a wonderful pregnancy and a truly beautiful natural labor and delivery story I am so thankful for. I felt God’s presence in my life so strongly at this point. I was in love with my new little baby and in awe of God’s faithfulness in my fertility.
At 2 weeks, postpartum things began to change. My quiet, sleepy baby began crying– a lot. He was diagnosed with acid reflux and colic. I could do nothing to soothe or comfort him. I desperately wanted to be the best mother I could be, but felt like a failure on so many levels. Sleep was also very rare during this time. Due to his acid reflux, lying down at night was one of the hardest times of the day for my baby. To allow my husband to sleep, I would sit up all night long rocking and attempting to soothe my hysterically crying infant. I’m not sure if it was pride or my desire to not “bother” people, but I refused all offers of help during this time. I also did not let my friends and family know the extent to which motherhood was taking a toll on me. I began isolating myself, fearful of any unknowns that might be found outside my home.
Finally, around 5 months postpartum the colic and reflux began to vanish from my infant. He started sleeping well at night and was consolable and even pleasant during the day. Although, he was doing wonderful, I was barely functioning. I stopped sleeping. It was as if my body had forgotten how to sleep. My baby was sleeping soundly, as I lay in bed wide awake with my mind racing. I averaged 2-4 hours of sleep a night, with some nights getting no sleep at all. This left me feeling frazzled and fried and on constant edge. I was confused and felt alone in my suffering.
Not sleeping at night began to wreak havoc in all areas of my life. I isolated myself from friendships, grew bitter toward God, and watched my marriage begin to suffer. I felt like a failure, not only in motherhood, but also in life. At 9 months postpartum I turned to various professionals for help, but received nothing more than pity and sleeping pills. Because of the addictive nature of the medication I used it only sparingly, though eventually became dependent on it. Due to this I was also forced to abruptly stop breastfeeding. Nursing was the one thing in motherhood that I still felt accomplished at and brought me joy. This was not only difficult on my body, but it also left an emotional scar that took months to heal.
Around this time I began to have thoughts of self-harm. I’m not sure if this was a withdrawal symptom of the medication or due to months of sleep-deprivation and isolation. But it was alarming and scary. I felt hopeless, confused, and embarrassed. This was not at all what I thought motherhood would look like.
I continued in this state of darkness for 11 months. I slept only on nights I took sleeping pills; the other nights consisted of frantic, irrational thoughts while I watched time pass. My daytime hours were simply survival mode. I did what I had to do to care for my baby, but neglected caring for myself and my home. On really bad days I would forget to feed myself. My mind felt scrambled and on a constant loop of negativity. I felt trapped in my circumstances and with no way out.
For the most part, I was able to ignore my pain… until I watched my strong husband begin to crumble. Due to my fragile, weary state, he took on the brunt of the housework and care for our infant, in addition to his full time job. He spent many nights awake with me praying and reading scripture to me, and attempting to seek out solutions for me. Watching him suffer made me realize just how bad things had gotten. I knew I needed help.
It was in the middle of the night, as it often was, that I was searching for answers online. I had finally gotten to the end of myself and was crying out to God for help. I stumbled across a checklist of symptoms for something called “Postpartum Depression.” I was able to check off all symptoms by this point. I was amazed there was a name for the torture I had endured for so long. I felt such a relief just knowing I was not alone and I was not “crazy.” I also saw a place called Hope Clinic specialized in dealing with this.
I called Hope Clinic the next morning. I was greeted with love and compassion over the phone and an appointment was scheduled for me immediately. Finally, I was no longer alone in my suffering. I felt the tight grip around my throat begin to loosen as I spoke about my darkness out loud. It no longer had power over me. I was filled with hope for the first time in 11 months. The staff at Hope Clinic was committed to seeing me get well. And they had hopefulness for me when I still could not see the progress.
I started going to Hope Clinic on a weekly basis. My family’s budget was taken into consideration, which was an unexpected blessing to us at such a vulnerable time. My medication was monitored and adjusted, and I soon began to emerge from the mental fog I had been in. I received counseling services targeted on the Postpartum Depression. I learned new skills for coping with my anxieties and I finally began embracing my motherhood. I learned to give myself grace in the areas I thought I was failing in. I set reasonable expectations for myself and entered a new place of vulnerability with friends and family. I learned how to ask for and accept help from those who love me. As I started to live again, by body followed suit and began sleeping peacefully.
Now at 14 months postpartum, I can honestly say I am in a wonderful place. The pieces of my life, which once felt shattered, have now been put back together. What could have easily destroyed me, God has used as a blessing in my life. My character has been shaped for the better by this experience. I could not have gotten to this place without the compassionate care of the staff at Hope Clinic. They met me in a state of darkness and walked with me out of it. I am eternally grateful to Hope Clinic. Their commitment to women and families truly fills a void in this area of service.
In “postpartum depression”, “postpartum”