Not sure if everyone does this with anniversaries or not… But in 5 days this photo will be 8 years old. No, FB memories didn’t pop it up for me. I just remember.
It was a Sunday morning.
A snowy one.
One where my husband had to go to work.
I was 4 months postpartum and at the height of postpartum depression… But I didn’t know that.
It would be another year and a half and another baby before I really let those words be tested on my tongue and began to research.
But this day… This snowy Sunday… I hadn’t been myself. The woman my husband had known for over 4 years.
As he left for work I asked if I had to go to church. We hadn’t gone since the beginning of January because we had an infant and germs abounded. But for whatever reason I asked. And he told me yes.
So I went. It was awful. I can’t remember if I made it to the truck before breaking down in tears or not.
Before he actually left, I must have said something to truly concern him. He had called and texted and the only response I gave him was this photo. I remember thinking he was still this child’s daddy even if I wasn’t going to be around. He deserved a photo of him.
My lack of response bugged him bad. I don’t think I’d ever done that before.
After all this, he told me he really didn’t know if we would be there when he got home. He’d never had that concern before. I had considered it… But I didn’t have anywhere else to go. And really, it wasn’t he that was the problem. Whatever it was, it was me. Everyone said so. So it must be true.
That was the closest I think we ever came to divorce… and really, it wasn’t very close at all. For that, I’m very thankful.
The voices all said I was overprotective. Well, what’s wrong with that? This child had been given to me for a time to guard, protect, and train up.
Why couldn’t I manage to leave the house without my husband? I didn’t know… I figured it was just all the extra that had to go with an infant in order to go anywhere.
The 2 days a week I worked were a nightmare. Packing everything he needed. Packing everything I needed. Overwhelming, yes but it was more than that.
It tore my heart out every time. And I was leaving him with trusted grandparents! I would cry going to work and I would just sit and clutch him to my chest when I got home because of how bad the literal ache in my chest was by days end. I’m getting teary just reliving it.
And as much as I cherished this gift of a child… I was despondent.
They’d be better off without me.
If I was gone he could be raised how everyone else thinks he should be.
I hated myself.
I hated living.
I hated sleeping.
I hated waking up.
I hated going to work.
I hated everything… Except my baby.
But most of all I hated me… And hated hating me.
When Cody came home after plowing that day I cried and he held me. Something I had needed to do. I didn’t have words to tell him about me because voicing all those hates wasn’t an option.
But the communication we did have was that he wanted me with him. He wanted our marriage. He wanted the mother of our child. He wanted our child. He loved me. And he’d been scared he wouldn’t find me when he got home.
That was nice. But it wasn’t louder than the voice in my head saying everyone would be better off without me. So I did the only thing I knew to do.
I wrote all those hates.
In a small canvas covered notebook I had painted a silhouetted cross on. At that point in my life it was fitting to lay all that at the cross… A literal one.
And I shut down.
I didn’t fight anything anymore.
I had no opinions anymore. At least none that needed voicing.
I spoke softly because what I had to say didn’t matter anyway.
And I continued…
By ☀️summer☀️ I was doing better. I managed a family vacation and enjoyed it.
By fall I was pregnant and the voice in my head shut off.
This is Part 1 of my story of postpartum depression.
There’s more to come. At that time those around me didn’t talk about it. It either didn’t exist in my circle, or (more likely) people just didn’t say anything about it.
That’s why I do. Maybe… If someone had been speaking up like this, I would have been able to help myself instead of suffering silently.
It is also why I go completely against the western postpartum grain and stay down for the first forty days after birth. Had I done that the first time, I may not have this testimony to share with you.
Our culture says ‘bounce back’! Strong women are back to work at 2 weeks and have their pre-baby body back in 4 weeks.
That’s not what the rest of the world or history says though.
They say stay down…
Stay in bed.
Be skin to skin with your infant and bond.
Let others help you.
ASK others to help you.
Stay warm… Hot even.
Those 40 days are for your immediate family to adjust to what will be your new normal. It is time for your body to heal. And for you to gradually, at your pace, walk into the new form of motherhood you’re taking on. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first child or your 10th, you will never be who you were before birth again.
By taking it slow and at your pace, your hormones can level. Your emotions can rage and level without interference.
When I decided to do postpartum this way, I said I’d rather be down, basically in bed, for 6 or 7 weeks instead of daily fighting myself for my life for 6-12 months.
It seems like a lot of time down. A lot of time relying on others. But it beats postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and suicidal thoughts for a year any day of the week.
And now I am the proof. I stayed down 40 days. I stayed warm. I asked for help and received it. And I have had no PPD. No PPA. And only 1 suicidal battle after too many days of too little sleep during that infant’s 4 month sleep regression.
I’m about to do it again with even more knowledge and wisdom than before. To those that came alongside and fed my family last time or cleaned for me or folded laundry for me, thank you! I hope I can count on you again for assistance.
If you’re not local to me, find the need near you and fill it like you wish someone would have for you. Take food to a new mama. Fold her laundry. Take her older children on a walk. Do her dishes. Vacuum her floor.
You will be happy you did.
She will NEVER forget that you did. And she will reciprocate somewhere else.
Share this post. You never know who is going through exactly what I was and not saying a word. I LOOKED fine. But I wasn’t.
These photos were taken a few days either side of that Sunday. No one knew what was going on. No one knew the daily struggle. Don’t assume you do. Share this. It may give hope!
Thank you for being here! Be sure to Subscribe for upcoming Postpartum Prep Recipes and the following parts of this series.