Monday, March 11, 2013

The Silver Lining

Being a mother is no piece of cake, I'll tell you what.  When I was pregnant with my son, everyone said that this was like having my third child seeing as I nannied for both of my nephews from infancy.  I can say, with confidence, no matter how experienced you think you are with children it is no where near what you deal with once you have your own.  That is a huge lesson I had to learn through experience. Not only do you have the newness of having a baby around 24/7, you also have those hormones that are out of whack and trying to get back to normal.  

I never really understood depression.  The concept was always so foreign to me.  I have family members and friends who struggle with it but I never thought that I would struggle with it.  Depression, to me, seemed like an inability to put things into perspective.  But I've come to realize that depression can be a subtle and slow blanket that creeps up on a person, suffocating their emotions until they feel numb.  It was for me.  I didn't realize that I was struggling so much until my husband sat me down and told me how worried he was.  

The first "taste" of depression I had was in the Fall of 2010.  I had gotten pregnant but things were not looking good.  I ended up losing the baby on Christmas Eve (you can read about that here).  During that experience, I would feel small waves of sadness and hopelessness as my body still suffered symptoms of a pregnancy though my womb was empty.  They were only waves and I was uncharacteristically optimistic during that difficult time.  The struggle brought my husband and I closer together as we looked to God for emotional support, trusting that He had a plan for our family.

The first difficult time I had after giving birth was in the middle of the night at the hospital while I walked the hallways trying to recover from my emergency surgery (see birthing story here).  I felt a strong sense of loneliness and an overwhelming amount of responsibility that I was not sure I was ready for.  This feeling lasted a long time.

My son, Jude, and I had a very difficult....well, probably first six months.  For the first week that we were home things went very smoothly.  Then, reality started to settle in.  The dreamy in-love state started to slowly wear off and the lack of sleep began to wear on me.  We had a difficult time nursing.  Jude would choke in the milk.  I got a breast infection.  Jude also started showing signs of colic.  He was fussy and gassy very often which we later found out was an allergy to dairy/soy and would constantly spit up.

As my diet changed and Jude's symptoms got worse so did my emotional state.  Sometimes, I would burst into tears while holding him and James would come running in and ask me what was wrong.  I would often say, "everything" or "I'm so scared".  I remember having such an overwhelming sense of fear, helplessness and, above all, a feeling of being completely alone.  I also felt jealous of my husband.  I was even jealous that he could go to church on Wednesday nights and I had to stay home.  As mothers, we have a job and a sense of duty that men just don't get.  Sometimes this feeling is even more amplified with breastfeeding because you really are needed constantly.  I would try to explain to James how I felt but I knew he wouldn't understand.  In fact, I thought no one would understand.  I would try to talk to other people about it but I was also too embarrassed to share with them my real feelings.  I felt like I was being such a terrible mother because I wished I could just go out for a cup of coffee with a friend or go shopping alone or sleep or read a book or just watch a TV show.  All of those things were gone.  I, undeniably, mourned for my life without children.  It was hard to put things into perspective.  Yes, I had a healthy baby.  I would try to tell myself that and I would feel guilty pushing that huge blessing aside.  But, the negativity always won.

I could go on and on about how difficult the first 6-8 months of motherhood has been but that's not the point of this post.  What I really want to say, especially to first time mothers, is that you're not alone.  You're not alone and you need to talk to someone about it.  Thankfully, I had a friend who was going through similar things as I was, feeling similar negative feelings toward this whole new mothering world.  We were honest with each other and that is the only way we got through it.  When I had the miscarriage, it was easy to cling to God and His provision.  During my postpartum depression, I didn't feel that.  I felt disconnected from everything.  I was withdrawn.

Christ is sufficient for all of our needs and He knew that my friend and I would have babies only days apart from each other.  He knew that we would need to share our fears and struggles with each other. He knows exactly what we need, even when we have no clue.  Even if we don't realize it until 9 months later.  He is our silver lining.

Jude and I are doing much better now.  As soon as I was able to start reintroducing things back into my diet, I slowly started to get better.  Also, my husband forced me to take some time for myself so I enrolled in a cake decorating class.  It was the best move I've ever made.  I was able to leave Jude for 2 hours every Tuesday night (and didn't feel guilty doing it because he was already asleep) and do something that I enjoyed immensely.  I started to find myself again.  I found self-worth in something other than being a mom.  I needed that.  Here are some of the baked goods I've done, and hopefully there will be much more to come!


  1. Loved everything about this post. I feel like I'm constantly hearing women say "I wish someone had told me it was going to be like this", or "I wish more moms talked about their PPD." It's so true! It's been a quiet burden for so many women for so long, which perpetuates the isolation. We all need to share our experiences, even if it's after the fact, so that we know we're not alone, and that moms to come are better prepared for what might come.
    It's a heavy time, and it's very hard to speak up and out about it in the throes of the depression, but we are not alone.
    Love you!!

  2. Thank you! I wish someone had shared this with me before I had kids. I suffered with post partum depression big time after my twins were born. They were my first babies. I too, had a very difficult delivery and recovery. I ended up with a transfusion and was sick for weeks after. The twins are now 5 and although I am better I am definitely still not over it. The guilt I carry around for not bonding with them when they were tiny babies is immense. I pray that with God's help I can let that go. Like you I was also not prepared for the isolation of being a stay at home mom. Honestly I still havne't adjusted to it fully but I wouldn't trade. Anyway, sorry this was so long winded. Just wanted to thank you for having the courage to share your story. You will bless many through it.

  3. I think as women we have some ridiculous idea that we are born to love motherhood from day one, and if we don't there is something terribly wrong with us. There are definitely some women who ease into motherhood (like the ones who beam throughout the whole pregnancy talking about how great they feel, ha). But there are a bunch of us who struggle, who take years to get used to having life as it was be over. You have had a harder time than most with Jude's health stuff, but I can certainly relate to feeling desperate to get away, to be alone and remember who I am outside of the role of Mom. Over the years I've learned that this is who I am now, just like a carefree college student is who I was before, and an empty nester is who I will be later. We are who and where we are right now for a reason and God is with us in each phase, strengthening us. Great post, Brooke. Also, great cakes. :)

  4. Such an honest post straight from the heart...thanks for sharing, Brooke. I knew you were having a difficult time with all of Jude's health issues but I didn't realize you were struggling so much with the emotions. So glad the fog is starting to clear for you! And what a great husband you have...seriously.

    Also,I love what Jenn had to say, "We are who and where we are right now for a reason and God is with us in each phase, strengthening us. " So very true.

    Love you!!! <3

  5. Loved this post. I experienced this (maybe not to the extreme) as well right after Maren was born. I felt like I should've been on cloud 9 but in reality I just wasn't! It was a very difficult transition for me and there are still times I struggle with the idea of 'this is my life now' even though I wouldn't trade it for anything else in this entire world...I'm glad you have found peace and established yourself both as a mother and as BROOKE, who has an identity that goes far beyond that, even if it is your most important and cherished role! You are a good mama. Jude is so blessed to have you. <3 :)

  6. This post reminded me a little of one I wrote what now feelsl ike a million years ago: