Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's so easy to sit down and write blogs about the little things we do throughout the day and to post pictures of the cuteness that is my kids--but it is entirely different and more difficult to write about *deeper things/experiences.* I've had the experience, in the past, of having my sincerest words deeply misunderstood and it's made me a little gun shy to talk about things that really matter to me. After today's VBS lesson today, I feel like I want to write about something more than cute clothes and sweet littles. =)
The topic of discussion before our Bible lesson was post-partum depression. I didn't think I'd become as involved in this topic since I'm *fairly* certain that my days of baby-bearing are behind me, but hearing the sweet lady relate her difficulties with depression after the birth of her *SIXTH* (yes, 6th!!) child it brought so many difficult and painful memories rushing back to mind. 
When I was pregnant with my darling Amelie I really had no clue what I was "getting into" (for lack of a better term). I had never lived with or cared for infants. I was far away from my loving family. I knew I wanted children but I wasn't really sure how it was all going to go. Fast forward to Dec. 29th when I unexpectedly went into labor a month early--my labor went fine. It was looooonnngggg and horrible in all the ways that giving birth is and then I had a beautiful dark haired baby girl. She was very cute even though the first thing she did was pee on me. =) 
Anyways, overwhelmed and exhausted I began to care for her--learning to breastfeed (easier said than done) and swaddle and shush my little one. The first night I was all alone (my husband was "too tired" to stay the night with me...ahem) and baby Amelie would not nurse, and cried for hours. I remember looking at the clock at 3 am and sobbing and wondering how I was going to do this for the next 18 years. 
When I went home my mother was there and I had her do EVERYTHING. She changed the diapers, she rocked Amelie to sleep, she dressed her, she fed us and cleaned my home, she ran errands and urged me to rest. I felt helpless and ill-qualified to take care of my little girl. Even though Amelie slept a lot I could NOT sleep. At all. It was horrible and I was exhausted and no where near sleep for days and days. When my Mom finally had to leave at the end of the week I sobbed and begged her to stay. Of course, she couldn't and I was on my own with no family support to keep me afloat.
The days with Amelie were very uneventful. We both slept. A lot. All day actually. I stayed inside, on the couch with her. I nursed her. I kissed her head. I sang to her but I felt SO empty inside. I had no love in my heart for my beautiful little girl. There are tears pouring down my cheeks as I write this because it is so painful for me to remember my darling little one and how dead I was inside. I was completely disconnected emotionally from my sweet girl. I was so, depressed, I suppose that I could not even talk to her. For SIX months I did not say a word to my sweet babe. We sat in silence and when the silence was too much I sang and that was the extent of my *speech* to her. 
I cared for her obsessively and was exhausted by the obsessing. I was anxious over every sound and sigh she made. I called the doctor's office every day to hound them with questions. My husband was teaching many piano lessons and I was home alone with her all day every day for hours and hours and hours. I missed working and my friends. I missed the time I was supposed to have enjoyed alone since she was born so early. I had terrible thoughts. I acted on NONE of them but they ran through my mind like the world's most painfully terrible broken record. I can't even write what those thoughts were, even though I remember them vividly, because they are too terrible. I *know* that they were thoughts brought on by hormonal imbalance, exhaustion, etc, but still....I hate to think of them. 
And then, suddenly, on the DAY Amelie turned 6 months old it was like the SUN came out. I could think. My brain wasn't foggy. I could TALK. I could talk to my beautiful little one. I could get off the couch and NOT sleep all day. I could get in my car and drive places. I could take the little things in stride and not have a meltdown at any little thing. I realized I must have been depressed. I knew something was wrong with me but I had no idea what! And since I saw no one aside from my husband and a few people at church on sunday no one discovered anything was wrong. I wish that I had been able to see what was wrong with me--or that anyone could see it and point me towards help. 
There is no shame in not being able to cope emotionally after having a child. It happens to many people. It happened to me. There is help to be had--a simple call to your OB or family physician is the first step to recovery. I'm thankful that the Lord allowed the clouds to pass at the end of those 6 months. I'm thankful that he gave me two other babes that I thoroughly and immensely enjoyed. I'm so thankful that my darling Amelie is wonderful and sweet and kind and completely unaware of the terrible distress I felt inside the first six months of her life. 
I'm thankful, thankful, thankful and I had to share it.


Robyn said...

Beautifully written, Michelle! No one understands what goes on in your heart and mind after having a baby until you go through it yourself. Thanks for sharing!

stephc said...

I am not sure how I came upon your blog, but I have been "checking in" for quite sometime. I too have three kids, though my oldest is nine. Two little girls and then a boy also. I believe I had hints of what you describe when she was a newborn, though probably milder. The more women who are unashamed to talk about depression will help others find their voice also, so thank you! I worked as an MSW in mental health before my babies, and women seem to feel so guilty admitting that sometimes life after having a baby is TOUGH, and stressful, and terribly lonely. I never really understood until my children were born. May the Lord continue to bless you and your sweet family!

Janet said...

I had no idea and I was right there. I'm sorry you had to go through this and wish I would have invited you over for coffee mochas and donuts :)

Madre said...

Your heart-felt honest sharing has really opened my eyes. Even though we talk all the time, I had no idea what struggle you were facing.

I guess the main thing I remember about that amazing January nearly seven years ago, was that I was NOT prepared for the immense love that I would have for my grandchild, and I was devastated to leave you all and drive back to NY.

You are a wonderful mom, and I am so thankful for you, honey. So thankful that you did not struggle as much after Maeve and Ezra's birth.

I thank God for his faithfulness to see you through that difficult time. I love you. madre xo