Postpartum depression is the elephant in the room. Our society doesn’t openly talk about it, leaving those who suffer to be filled with shame. It’s misunderstood by those who have never felt it. It doesn’t look or feel the same for each afflicted mom. In fact, the same mom can experience it differently with subsequent pregnancies. But one in seven of us moms will have gone through this dark path, often alone. One in seven of us will have to fight to get through, to get better. I am one in seven.
Any woman who has suffered from postpartum depression has done the work. The work to get through the day. The work to recover. The work to survive. The work to become you again. After the birth of my first child I thought I was just having an exceptionally hard time adjusting to motherhood. I had no idea that what I was experiencing was PPD. My husband recognized the symptoms and was the driving force in me seeking help. A few months went by and with medication I was able to recover and start to enjoy being a mom.
But what happened with my second baby I was completely unprepared for. My second day home from the hospital I felt as if I had been hit by a bus and fallen off a cliff. This time it came on faster, harder, and lasted 10 months, with treatment. To say I struggled was an understatement. I could go into detail about those months of struggle, but if you had PPD, then you already know. And most likely, you don’t want to read my story because it hurts. It is hard. You feel robbed of precious time with your child. You want to remove it from your mind.
So, we gave into fear. We decided that the only solution was no more babies: a vasectomy for my husband.
But that wasn’t God’s plan
But then….God. God spoke to each of us in a way that we would receive it. We both knew that there was another soul we were to bring to earth. We knew there was another child for us. It was a huge leap of faith, but we listened. Within months of our revelation, my husband had a reversal.
When we got pregnant, I wish that I could give you some amazing story about how I just openly trusted God. But that wouldn’t be true. I knew God had a plan, but I was still terrified. I was focused on myself, my fears. Not sure I was strong enough to go through PPD for the 3rd time.
I made a conscious choice, instead of living in a constant state of panic, I would prepare…with God’s lead. I would keep my eyes focused on His plan. I would start the work now. I knew With God, I had a fighting chance.
I researched. I reviewed recent studies. I read case studies. I found personal stories. I became educated on PPD in a way I had not been before. I took this information to my amazing OBGYN who was willing to take the time to sit with me and develop a plan. The hope was that we could lessen the intensity and the length of time for PPD. If we were really lucky, prevent it. The odds of prevention were not in my favor…but God.
My New Plan
My Physical Health
Many women with PPD also have several vitamin deficiencies. So the first part of my plan was to take Iron, B12, magnesium, and vitamin D, along with a multivitamin. I would also try to eat healthy and avoid processed sugars. I would start going for walks as soon as I could.
My Mental Health
I would practice mindful meditation daily. It helps me relax, lowers my anxiety and helps me to sleep. I found a therapist that I connected with and we began sessions before my baby was born. Seeing her before my daughter was born was a way for her to get to know me and for me to connect with and trust her.
My OBGYN, my therapist and my family doctor would all be on the same page with medication and had releases to discuss with one another to ensure my medication was managed well. My OBGYN and I decided to start a low dose antidepressant in the 3rd trimester and then double it upon delivery.
My Spiritual Health
My last and most important step was working on my relationship with God. Before and after my daughter was born I would spend time reading my bible, doing devotionals, journaling, and in prayer. I prepared bible verses that I could refer to depending on my current struggle. Ones that I could pray over.
The plan worked. I never developed PPD. Even though I was exhausted and taking care of three children three and under, I was happy. I was enjoying my baby. Yes, it was still hard, there were tears, and I had some bad days, but overall I was okay. This was new.
God was the game-changer
God was the game changer this time around. I lacked a relationship with Him for my previous pregnancies. This time around, even with the fear, I trusted his plan. I trusted in Him. I put in the work, with His guidance and help. I can see how He was there during my previous struggles, I just had my head held down in shame instead of focused on him.
If you are afraid to have more children because of PPD-there is hope. God doesn’t call us to live in fear. He calls us to trust Him. I have come to realize that anything I suffer through is nothing compared to what my savior has already suffered for me.
If you are considering another baby, develop a plan. Let God lead that plan. Your plan needs to work for you. The key is that you, your husband and your doctor are all involved and on the same page. In previous battles I walked alone. I tried to do it myself. This time I surrendered to God and allowed Him to lead.
That baby recently celebrated her 2nd birthday. She has brought so much joy to the world in those two years. I thank God that He gave her to me to raise. Would that same plan work if I had another baby? Maybe not. But I know what is on the other side. I know that with God I can overcome.