Charlene's Story

Nothing could have prepared me for the days, weeks, and months that followed the birth of my son. Nothing. One minute I would laugh at the strange noises my little man was making. The next minute the tears would start. The “baby blues” are common, but what I was experiencing was something a bit more. I say that sleep deprivation was my biggest symptom of postpartum depression, but looking back it was the distance that grew between the world and me.

Everything seemed so hard. I wanted to breastfeed, but I felt like I was drowning every time I tried to feed my baby. I wanted to hold him close, but I wanted space. I wanted to feel an inseparable bond with my baby but “mommy” didn’t feel like a role that I fit in. I tried hard to do “mommy” things, not wanting to fail. I was so scared my son would think I did not love him. I overcompensated by kissing him more, hugging him tighter, singing to him, and rocking him. The harder I tried though, the further I was slipping away.

From day one in the hospital I was overwhelmed. I thought I had prepared myself for the birth of my son, but nothing can truly prepare your heart, mind, and body for this life-changing event. I was in labor for 19 hours ending with an emergency C-section. I was exhausted. I remember asking the doctor before surgery, “Are you sure my body can handle this?? Are you sure I will make it out alive?!?” Looking back now, I can see that my downhill spiral started before I even met my son for the first time. I was in a state of exhaustion, panic, and uncertainty.

My C-section incision opened up on day 11 postpartum. At this point, I remember asking my husband to promise me he would take care of my son if I died, and I was serious. I thought my time was coming to an end. Even when the doctors assured me I was ok and would heal, I didn’t believe them. I thought I would never get better. I didn’t really feel sad, I felt empty. I felt so disconnected with everything, like I was watching the world from afar.

Satan will try, and try again to steal your joy and he was having a feast with me. I developed severe insomnia. I did not sleep for more than 2 hours a night for 2 weeks straight. I did not know at the time, sleep disturbances are often one of the first symptoms of postpartum depression. The deeper the exhaustion became, the more broken I felt. My weariness left me feeling like I was failing at being a mom. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew my son needed me. Finally the protective instinct a mother has for her child led me to seek help. I needed to be the best version of myself for him and I was nowhere near where I wanted to be.

Determined to get the help I needed, I found a psychiatrist that diagnosed me with postpartum depression. Part of me wanted to deny it, and part of me wanted to jump with joy that someone recognized it. I had seen so many doctors that just wanted to prescribe sleeping pills and tell me I was fine. It was refreshing to have someone clinically explain to me what I was experiencing.

We dealt with the insomnia first. Medicine helped calm my thoughts and allowed me to sleep. Reluctant to take the medicine, desperate for sleep, I struggled if this was the right choice. I needed sleep so desperately that I took the medicine. I slept. It was the right decision. Next, was addressing the underlying issue, the depression. Zoloft. I cringed when I heard the doctor tell me he would prescribe an anti-depressant. So many questions, emotions, and thoughts ran through my head during the two-week struggle I had over whether or not to take the medicine. I prayed for the Lord’s direction and guidance. I finally took the medicine. It helped, and it allowed me to become the mom I was meant to be.

Above all, I prayed and then prayed some more. On my knees, every night I prayed to God to help me feel the joy I was so expecting to feel. I prayed to God to listen to me, to hear me.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10. He showed me He never left my side, even when I felt like He had deserted me. My Jesus, my savior, gave me strength when I had none. I was broken, and He molded me back together. He brought me through the muddy waters, lifted the cloud that had so deeply settled, and allowed the sun to shine. He brought me to my knees to make me better. I will NEVER say I am grateful for my postpartum depression journey, but I am forever thankful for my Jesus who helped me eventually feel the insurmountable joy every mother deserves to feel.

I write this post with the hope that if you are reading this and feel anything like what I have described, please get the help you so deserve. Postpartum depression tries to steal your joy but the Lord our God is stronger than all and with His help YOU win!