A year ago I was in lost in the middle of one of those times. If you've never struggled from postpartum depression, praise the Lord daily that you've been spared. Treasure every wonderful minute with your newborn child. Some of us never had that chance.
My son turned 1 last week. I'm finding myself spending a lot of time comparing last year with this year. What a difference! But it is not just getting more sleep--though that is a huge bonus--it is the emotional difference.
This year my son and I are inseparable. We eat together, play together, read books together, garden together, and even play the piano together. He wants to snuggle and give me hugs. I want to kiss his chubby cheeks and tickle his tummy. He can't bear to go to the nursery at church. I can't bear to leave him with a baby sitter for the afternoon. A lot has changed.
Last year I lay on the hospital bed watching him sleep and wondering at the lack of emotions I felt. The love and wonder I felt during my pregnancy was gone. Here he was. He was perfect. I'd never seen a cuter baby. He was my son. But I felt nothing. My husband was experiencing the bliss of fatherhood, but where was the bliss of motherhood I'd read about? Maybe it was because I was so tired?
We came home from the hospital. Nothing changed. I had no desire to hold him. There was no bond. I felt he viewed me as a milk machine. I can't describe how I viewed him. I longed to love my son. To experience love as both an action and an emotion. Days turned into weeks.
I think it was fairly obvious that I was struggling. I've never been good at pretending everything is fine when it is not. I will thank the Lord every day of my life for using the sweet lady from church to set me on the path to freedom. I don't know if she realized what was going on or not. All I know is that she told me about the births of her three children and mentioned she didn't bond with one of them right away. When I heard those words, I realized I was not alone. God used those words to begin the healing process. My guilt began to be replaced with love.
Nothing was perfect over night. There were some hard months ahead of me. Postpartum depression is more than just a struggle to bond with your baby. There were many times when I felt I couldn't keep going. Times when life seemed too hard. Times when the depression seemed to be winning. I am so thankful God never gave up on me. I'm grateful my husband kept supporting me. And I am so amazed my son kept loving me. They supported me through the dark times and were waiting for me when I emerged on the other side.
My greatest encouragement during that time was reading David's psalms. Here was someone who was brutally honest about what he felt. Here was someone who was willing to admit to times of darkness and despair. David showed me that it is human to question God. His words, inspired words from God, taught me how to transition from despair to joy.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth. . . .
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears. . . .
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and
delivers them. . . .
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry. . . .
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him
will be condemned.