I think I’ve always wanted to have kids.
I was the kid who wanted babies, even dressed up the poor farm cats that lived in my barn and put them in a little doll stroller.
In my mind, I always dreamed and planned for a life surrounded by kids. Four children, preferably 2 girls, 2 boys… at the bare minimum.
In some moments of pride, I even felt that God might owe children to me, because I think I did everything in the right order. I was a Christian. I went to Bible College… and both me and my husband were virgins when we got married.
Yet, Ben and I were married for nearly 4 years with no positive pregnancy tests… and I would know because I was buying them in packs of 100 at a time.
My doctor confirmed it. I was infertile.
I felt abandoned by God.
After several ultrasounds and a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, in January of 2015, I received a hormone shot in the mail. My husband helped me get brave enough to insert the needle in my upper right thigh.
They warned me that this shot in this dose was often a little too effective and I might end up with twins or triplets.
I went in for an ultrasound and saw it. One single egg in my right ovary mature enough to ovulate, if the conditions were right. On January 5th, I had a sharp pain in the area I assumed was my right ovary. There was pain because I ovulated so rarely that I could actually feel the sensation of the egg breaking through the ovary.
That egg was later fertilized in our marriage bed with some hopeful expectation of what might happen. And many prayers.
I painfully waited the necessary 2 weeks, and in late January, I pulled my 100 pack of pregnancy tests from the bottom bathroom drawer and almost instantly saw 2 lines… for the first time in my life.
One uneventful pregnancy later (praise God for that), I had a son. We named him Cyrus.
I will raise up Cyrus in righteousness, and I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild My city and set My exiles free, but not for payment or reward,” says the LORD of Hosts.
I finally had a baby! I was so… happy?!
God blessed us so richly, and answered our prayers. We finally had a baby.
For me and for most women, the first 3 months were really difficult. People told me it was normal and expected to feel overwhelmed and sad, even with the joy of a baby in my arms, so I excused these “baby blues”.
Google offered no sure answers, and I’m not sure when the baby blues end and postpartum depression begins… but at my son’s 6 month appointment, I finally said the words out loud to my son’s doctor: “I think I have Postpartum Depression”.
He didn’t act surprised at all…as if he could tell by my blank stares, calculated pasted-on smiles, and endless questions about when my baby would start to sleep.
I was drowning.
This motherhood thing just felt like a boat that I had missed. Like there was a secret code on how to properly mother, and I was the only one who hadn’t deciphered it.
The grandmotherly types at church and at the grocery store all told me: “this is the best time of your life!” and “cherish it all!” … “enjoy every moment!”
I imagined that they had an easy, peaceful motherhood experience while I was drowning in overwhelm and sorrow.
Those hormones, though…
Around the beginning of the 3rd trimester, the female body has max levels of the necessary hormones, which, ideally, enable you to safely bring a baby human into this beautiful world.
These hormones even make some women into a pre-super-mom, super prepared, motivated to clean every nook and cranny of their house in preparation for their special bundle.
then when you give birth, all of those wonderful hormones essentially flatline.
The new mom not only has none of those fly-high hormones, but they also have a new baby who is 100% dependent on them for every single need.
If the baby has colic (like both of mine did), it can bring the new mom to her knees, asking God why motherhood is so much harder than it seems in the movies and the Christian self-help books.
My son is now 4, and I have a daughter who is 18 months old and while I was more prepared this time, I experienced PPD with my daughter as well.
I’m glad to say that I’m finally on the other side of postpartum depression.
Here’s the 4 steps I would share for the mom drowning in postpartum depression.
1. Say it. Say it to somebody.
Start by saying it to a doctor. Say it to your mom if she’s around. Say it to a college friend.
Keep saying it to someone and there might be someone who says back to you: “Me too, I dealt with that too!”.
Satan wants us to be lonely, because he knows that when we keep to ourselves, we will keep feeling stuck, helpless, and hopeless.
If you’re feeling stuck today in postpartum depression, say it to someone.
Once you say it to people in your life, it’s time to talk to God about it, if you haven’t already.
2. Say it to God.
David was a man after God’s own heart. He was the apple of God’s eye.
The man who wrote the majority of the book of Psalms was depressed. He chose to honor God through the depths of depression.
We see it in the 13th Psalm –
“How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
So… how do I honor God when I feel like He’s abandoned me?
I had a huge turning point in my depression when I determined that I would do the same thing that the Psalmist did: I would be completely honest with God about the ugly, shadowed parts of my brain.
God always desires intimacy with us, even in the valley of the shadow of death, He is beside us, guiding us, keeping us close to Him.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
gently leads those that have young.
Maybe the most comforting Bible verse to me in this season of life: The Shepherd gently leads those who have young.
“He tends His flock like a shepherd and gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”
3. Be patient with yourself.
People say “give yourself grace” and in the truest sense of the phrase, that isn’t theologically possible, as only God can give grace.
But you can and should not expect more out of yourself than is possible.
Grace is the opposite of shame and shame held me in depression for an extended period of time.
Our Father isn’t a God of shame, but of grace and love. When I was in the pits of darkness, I couldn’t see that.
The Great Shepherd is gently leading those who have young, yet we can be so ungentle with ourselves.
I was stuck in a cycle of expecting more out of myself and constantly falling prey to the fallenness of my brain.
Depression feeds itself when you let it. God doesn’t desire for us to be stuck, but He is a God who delivers.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
2 Peter 3:9
4. Practice one thing to get yourself back on track.
Don’t go big. Just do it a little bit. Get into the Word. Get into true Christian community.
It’s okay if you can’t handle the Annual Church Women’s Super-Fun and Super-Noisy Extravaganza Fundraiser Gala right now. It’s okay if you need to lay low. (Even if you’re the Pastor’s wife like I am!)
Instead, get a bout of bravery and invite yourself over a friend’s house for lunch for some one-on-one time where you can really talk with someone. Be honest with her and tell her your struggles. Ask if you can read through a devotional with her.
If that’s too much, try just getting outside in God’s creation and praying to Him for a few solid minutes. Give the kid to someone who you can trust and be outside a little bit every day.
Or maybe your goal would be to read one chapter of the Bible that’s sitting open on your kitchen counter.
Do one thing. Every day. No more, no less.
I was so overwhelmed with the idea of getting back on track that I think I unnecessarily lost whole
months years to postpartum depression.
The Great Shepherd is gently leading those who have young, yet we can be so ungentle with ourselves.
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Here’s what helped me.
I had a Bible Study Journal that I bought off Instagram at 6 months postpartum. It was (and is) beautiful. But I was overwhelmed by the 5 pages required every day to stay on track. I would do a day and then I would skip 4 days in a row, and felt totally guilty, trapped, and judged by this beautiful journal staring at me from under the baby bottles and nipple covers on my nightstand.
But I’m a Bible College graduate and I knew the importance of being connected to Jesus, the True Vine via daily fellowship with Him.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Forcing yourself to get in God’s Word may seem painful, awkward, or fruitless at first. But getting in the habit of going to the Wellspring of Life will bless you in ways you can’t imagine until you try.
When I was stuck in depression, I believed a lie that I had to be in a place of joy before I could open my Bible. My heart got hard and I felt trapped.
I learned it will soften my heart to be in God’s Word. The practice of hearing from Him, even in my postpartum depression will lead to joy.
So, I made a Onesheet. It was a simple piece of paper where I listed:
- things I’m thankful for
- things that I want to pray about
- a place for scripture writing
- and a place where I could reflect on the Word.
This onesheet turned into The Dwell Journal, a 12-week collection of these sheets with beautiful artwork and guided topics to get you back on track with the practice of listening to God.
Perfect for the woman who wants to get into the Word for herself
If you’re not sure where to start, or are struggling with being consistent in God’s Word, try this 12-week guided Bible study journal to help you get on a fulfilling and exciting path in your quiet time with the Lord. Through dwelling on God’s word, you’ll be rooted and established in Christ. Each week focuses on a different topic; areas that will convict you and encourage you to apply what you have learned as the Holy Spirit lives and moves through you to accomplish His work.
Inside this journal you’ll find a place to:
- Write Bible verses for deeper reflection and internalization
- Record what you learn as you study God’s Word
- Reflect on ways to apply what you’ve read
- Record things you are thankful for
- Keep track of prayer requests and answered prayers
Dwelling in God’s word is exciting and enriching. Let’s dive into the Father’s love letter and see how it impacts our lives and the lives of those around us.
We want you to join the Christ-Centered Mamas Facebook group! Come and ask questions and be encouraged by other Christian moms. It was mainly this group that sourced the ideas for the Dwell Journal, so it’s a valuable and beautiful community to me, and to the other moms in the group!
The post 4 Steps For the Mom Drowning in Postpartum Depression appeared first on Christ-Centered Mama.
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