This is a post I've been meaning/wanting to write for quite sometime. Its not a story most know. Its not something I readily share- until now. I'm finally ready. You see- I'm finally out of a fog. It is a place I've been in ever since Isabelle was born.
To note: I never received any treatment of any kind, talked to any medical professional, nor had any 'official' diagnosis. This is just my explanation of where I've been and where I'm going.
As many know, Isabelle was not exactly a 'planned' child. She was conceived about 4.5 months after we were married. God's version of a surprise party on the "I hate surprises" me. It was a tough thing to swallow. Those first few months of pregnancy were not the most fun. On top of the all day sickness- I was feeling like a failure (because I had gotten pregnant). I wanted out. Luckily, I was able to learn the importance of surrender. I surrender all has been my mantra since. While I warmed up to the idea of being a mommy earlier than I had wanted, my future career as an elementary school teacher was pushed aside indefinetly. One, I wanted to be a stay at home mom, and two, laws changed and I was no longer a valid teacher in Michigan. Surrender to God's plan and not my own #2.
I was filled with excitement and anticipation at the end of my pregnancy- ready for the adventure God had put us on. Unfortunately, the birth did not go as I planned (ok God, I think I'll learn my lesson eventually!). After a day of hard labor, I ended up with an unplanned c-section. I had not prepared at all for this option. I have birthing hips! I never imagined having a difficult time giving birth! Well, it wasn't my hips that were the problem- but for some reason or another, my body wouldn't progress like it needed to. I realize now that the c-section probably saved my life and the life of Isabelle- and for that I am grateful.
The first few days of life were tiring, sore, but pretty good. Isabelle screamed her first night at home- but other than that was a great baby. She took to nursing like a champ. Sometime around day 7-10 (its all a blur to be honest) I started getting highly emotional. I was a train wreck. I was aware of "baby blues" and the lack of hormonal release during a c-section causing some problems- but I was not aware of this! From that first week to about month 5 or 6 was an utter blur. I couldn't tell you much about what happened, what Izzy did, nothing. I could barely function in large groups. I hated even getting together for a family dinner with Paul's side of the family. The chaos was too much. The only place I felt comfortable was at home alone in the quiet and stillness. My emotions never died down. I would get angry fast, cry at the drop of a hat. It was something that was beyond me for control. I remember evenings of nursing Izzy and not being able to stop sobbing. I didn't feel like myself. I didn't look like myself. I had horrible thoughts and visions of doing horrible things. Satan saw a crack- and spread it wide open.
Up to this point, Paul kind of knew what was going on. He tried his best to help. He prayed. He comforted me as best as he could. But there is only so much he could do. I had a daughter who refused bottles and pacifiers. I was the only source of comfort for her. Even when I couldn't take care of myself, I had to take care of her.
I did not have a good relationship with my doctors. We were on an insurance plan that did everything "in house". No primary care physicans. You mainly saw PA for everyday stuff. They had MD's for their OBGYN care- but they only had a training course for it- not special degrees. They had made some mistakes with my care while pregnant and birth. We were in the process of switching insurances and doctors at this point in time. Needless to say, even if I could have articulated what I was feeling- I would not have been comfortable talking to anyone in that office.
I was aware of post partum depression. I think I was asked about it. I'm sure they gave me a flier in the expecting brochures. I just couldn't even think that route. My mind was not clear. Plus, I had already failed at getting pregnant early on, I couldn't be a failure as a mother!
Months past. The horrible thoughts started to fade. Emotions stayed strong. I lost the ability to think before speaking, but tried my best to surrender it. Paul and I found ways to work around different problems I was having. We had strategies for being in crowds. Most of all, we prayed. We prayed that this would all go away. We believed, and still do to this day, that Satan was on the attack. He wanted to dissolve our marriage. He wanted to prevent me from being well and glorifying the Lord. He wanted us to be miserable. He wanted to break our spirits.
I can now say that about 9-12 months ago, this fog began to lift! I suddenly started thinking clearer again. I could control my emotions. I was enjoying Isabelle. I was enjoying groups of people- not getting overwhelmed in chaos. I don't know if what I had was post partum depression. I know its real. I know its out there. I know even some of the strongest, most God fearing women struggle with it. If I had to venture a guess- I would say, yeah, I had post partum depression. Its a humbling thought. I'm generally a happy person- how could I be depressed if I have the love of the Lord? I don't know why I had to go through that desert or what that desert was even called. It doesn't really matter I suppose what label it has. The fact is: I went through that desert, but because of the love of my husband, the power of prayer, and the faithfulness of my Lord- this fog is lifting.
As we enter the next phase of life I have a few final thoughts. Some may ask: what helped you get out of this fog?
1) Prayer- never underestimate its power
2) Love- my husband never strayed, never gave up. My Lord loves me and won't let me be crushed. Satan will be defeated.
3) Serving. Now I know this one sounds weird. But, for many months I was so consumed with myself and trying to get out of this fog I couldn't take the leap to start serving others. Finally, I pulled the trigger. I started out in women's ministry and then ended up where I believe God was really calling me- to children's ministry. I was able to serve God, my church, and the children using talents and skills God has given me. Serving brought so much joy that it counter-acted any of the negative emotions I was facing. I needed to bring action to my healing. It was something Satan did not want. Nearly every Saturday afternoon before I left to serve in Discovery Village- I would feel so sick. I would have headache or Izzy wouldn't nap well. I pushed forward knowing it was Satan trying to keep me from serving and from healing. Every night I would return home from DV energized and renewed. Serving help the fog lift.
4) Admiting and Rejoicing. The final step I feel I needed to make in order to help this fog lift was announce my struggle. I admitted my struggle to a select few. Now I rejoice in God's deliverance from it. The fog has finally been lifted!!!
I'll admit- there are days that I still struggle. Days that are so emtionally overhwhelming that I just want to sleep it off. But its getting better. I now struggle with the future. We are discussing the possibility of making Izzy a big sister. I would love another baby. I want to find out what those early months are really like. I have more love to share. But I am afraid. I am afraid that this fog will come back. Scratch that- I will not be fearful!!!! What am I typing??? God is with me. I now know what to expect and Paul knows what to expect. I have a great new doctor that I will feel comfortable talking with. I also have a great support system. Ok, so I am not fearful- just, um....wondering. Yeah, wondering what the future holds.
Thanks for listening. Or reading. If anyone else has experienced this fog- let me know- it will be great to hear from your experiences!