“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
– Elizabeth Stone
Last week was my third child’s birthday. Eight years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful 7 lb 8oz baby girl. Jenna May Irene was born after being induced because she was in an unstable lie position (she was flip flopping in my belly 🙂 ). Considering I had a home birth with my son 3 years previously, I had to learn to let go of a lot of things. I was in the hospital and hooked up like a lab rat. Definitely different than a home birth! Yet, the outcome was the same. Healthy baby! I also had to learn to let go of a lot of things throughout that pregnancy.
During my pregnancy with Jenna, I was the stay at home mom of a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I was also a La Leche League Leader, helping and educating moms on breastfeeding (and taking care of themselves). I loved being pregnant the first 2 times! I felt so alive, powerful and so, well, womanly! Yet, during my third pregnancy, I had a secret. I was suffering from depression. At that time, I told no one. I couldn’t take care of my kids, and I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted my baby. (Now, that’s tough to admit. What mother doesn’t want the child growing inside her??) I wasn’t sure I could handle it, when I couldn’t even handle the life I had.
For the first time ever, I agreed to take medication. I had been prescribed medication at different times in my life, but I could just never take it. Feelings of failure, weakness and inadequacy raced around in my head. During that pregnancy, I was weak. I needed strength. (Sadly, I didn’t know God at the time, so I relied on my own strength). I remember talking with my husband about the medication, and he said “If you can’t take it for yourself, take it for your family.” That did it. I started my first round of antidepressants. I’m not saying medication is for everyone (trust me; I know how difficult it is to swallow, both physically and psychologically). I needed help beyond myself. The medication did help and I was able to continue through my pregnancy. Medication “fixed” the “problem” at the time.
If you are currently pregnant or have a newborn baby and feeling overwhelmingly sad, talk to someone (a midwife, a doctor, a friend, or a family member). Don’t be like me and try to do it yourself. It didn’t work. You need support. You are not alone.
I call Jenna my “little Angel”. I delight in her every day. She’s sweet, compassionate, funny, creative, and has a joy for life that I relish. Can you imagine if I had done what my sick brain had told me to do? Ugh. I don’t like to think about that. I want to live my life thanking God for my beautiful daughter that fills me with joy.
Have you experienced postpartum depression, depression during pregnancy or even “baby blues”? How did you handle it?
Psalms 139: 13-14 (NIV)
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.