Wednesday, December 7, 2011


First off, yesterday ended up much better than expected.  The initial response was hurtful and harsh, but I was expecting that.  We talked it out last night and I think the other party involved has a better understanding of the larger issue that Craig and I have been dealing with this year - one that did not have anything to do with them.

Spurred on by the courage of a college friend and blog buddy, Meagan....I'm ready to say the words for myself.

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety sucks.

Soon after Natalie was born (as in minutes) I felt that something in me wasn't right.  I didn't react to her the way I THOUGHT I should.  When she was placed in my arms I wasn't overcome with that intense love that everyone talks about.  I thought something was wrong with me and that because I didn't feel that initial rush of emotions for her, that I should never have had a child in the first place.  I felt that God had made a mistake in giving me a child.  I struggled to identify myself as somebody's mother, but yet still as myself.  I took my job as her caregiver and as Craig's wife very seriously - I wanted to be perfect for them.  But I just couldn't.  Looking back I can't even explain it except that I was in a fog that I just couldn't snap out of.

There were (and still are somedays) two of me.  The real me was standing on the beach in the sunshine.  On the dark days I was standing across stormy water on a cold and lonely island.  I could see myself vaguely through the fog that rested on top of the water but I couldn't figure out how to get there.  Occasionally there were days where I was on the shore and basking in the sun but for the most part I was trapped on that island unable to communicate to anyone about how I felt or why I felt that way.

It was awful.  And not just for me but for Craig as well.  I have a feeling that even Angie the pup noticed a change in me.  At first I was just sad, anxious and worried all the time - I didn't like to be alone with Natalie.  I felt trapped to the bed nursing her and then I felt guilty for feeling trapped and even a little resentful of her.  Over time, my sadness turned to anger - why wasn't I getting better?  Why was I being such an awful person and most frequently - why was Craig still married to me when I was obviously making his life so miserable?

I prayed so many nights for God to take this away and for me to be able to stand back in the sunshine on the beach in my vision.  I just wanted to enjoy my husband, my child and my life.

And here we are today.  Last Tuesday I woke up and had to deal with certain issues in our world and I was no longer angry - I could clearly see the situation and assessed how I felt about it and most importantly, I felt confident in myself and my feelings.  I was in the sunshine.  But this time was different.  I had been in the sunshine before but it was fleeting for only a day, an afternoon or even a moment.  I can't put my finger on it but I just knew that the bulk of my struggle was over and behind us - God had answered my prayer and I had survived nine harrowing months.  And just in time for me to truly enjoy the holiday season with Natalie and Craig as a truly happy and grateful family.

And then I cried for the millionth time this year.

Luckily this time it was tears of joy and praise.

Am I cured?  Absolutely not and I know that I could slip back at any time but right now I feel so strong and competent and unafraid.  I can't tell you why right NOW feels different from two weeks ago or two months ago but I don't feel the fog at all.  I feel at "one" with myself - and when that "other" person sneaks into my brain and tries to take over, I can shut down those negative thoughts.  For the past nine months when I was feeling good I would almost feel the fog coming in and wrapping around my brain and dragging me away from my sunshine and back onto my cold island.  Not now.  I already had my first "test" this week - Craig called me on Thursday at school and he has been tentatively diagnosed with the mumps (I know!  This isn't 1950!  Who gets the mumps!  That's another blogpost entirely) and cannot be around Natalie without a face mask because she hasn't completely gotten her MMR vaccine.  So.  I'm in charge of everything.  Cooking dinner, feeding Natalie, changing diapers, bathtime, keeping her entertained, and the most frustrating for me - bedtime and nighttime.  But two nights in and I haven't lost my temper and I haven't uttered the words "I can't do this."  I've had frustrating moments (Go.  To.  Sleep.  My.  PRECIOUS.  Child.) but I've calmed myself down and gotten through it.

This is big.  Huge.

So here I am putting this out there and making what everyone around me has suspected into cold, hard truth.  I'm not ashamed of what we've gone through this year because it could happen to anyone (although I think my type-A, perfectionist personality made me more susceptible) and above all - IT'S NOT MY FAULT.  I didn't cause this and going forward Craig and I know what could happen IF we decide to have another child - we will be more prepared for the aftermath of birth.

There you have it.  If you need more information or are curious, my go-to website has been Postpartum Progress.  They've got tons of great testimonials, research information and just general "this sucks right now but you'll get through it" kind of things to help out women going struggling with this tough issue.


Erin said...

Oh girl, you are not alone! I for one am right there with you. I didn't have that crazy feeling the first time I held J and didn't come around to those fuzzy mom feelings regularly until well into his 7th month. Glad to hear you are feeling more yourself these days!

Meagan said...

Beautifully said. I can relate to almost every word. So courageous of you to put out there the depth of your hardest days. I will pray for your relationship situation, the your happiness only grows, and that your life with Craig and Natalie flourishes month by month.

Surviving day by day with PPD is so hard for other people to understand. While I have no idea your situation, through this, I lost one of my absolute closest friends in the midst of PPD. Things were rough even when I was pregnant with this girl, but it came to blows when she just flat lacked the compassion and desire or empathy to understand what I was going through, then responded with too much pride to see where I was coming from. It. Has. Been. Heartbreaking. And heartbreaking isn't even a strong enough word. I miss this girl all the time, but I have faithfully handed it to prayer and God has been leading my heart to healing and mending and be content with the situation. :( I despise PPD for so many reasons, but oddly enough, through it, so much joy has come. So strange to say, but even through all of our years hardships, I am happier than I have ever been...even with the loss of a dear friend.

Oh, and I feel you on being a single mom while Craig is sick...It would be another blog post for me, too, but Adam has been very, very ill for much of this year and it is so hard. I am HERE FOR YOU, girl! ANYTIME! much love!

Melissa said...

You are an amazing woman, mom, wife, and most importantly daughter of our King. He is proud of you Laura...I know it!! By the way...when I was reading this I was literally hanging onto every are an amazing writer friend!!