The needle in my spine sent shock waves of pain straight down my leg. I felt one short breath away from a panic attack as the anesthesiologist tried again. And then again. Finally, in between the clenching contractions and the stabs of zinging pain, she got my epidural placed on the third try. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was only supposed to feel pressure, not intense pain!
The delivery room lights were too bright. My head was starting to ache. The nurses and my husband were giving my beautiful baby girl her first bath and checking her over. Everyone was admiring my sweet baby except me. Her mama. My eyes were shut tight trying to block out the pain. My head was too heavy for my neck to hold up. My shoulders ached. Like my head was a bowling ball barely balanced on a straight pin. It was a spinal headache. A complication from my epidural. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The epidural was supposed to take away the pain, not cause more of it! I’m missing important first moments with my baby!
Two days later, I’m back at the hospital for my second blood patch. The procedure is supposed to make the pain go away but my headache came back one day after I had the first one. I was exhausted. I was hormonal. My milk had come in but not let down which only served to remind me that I’d left my tiny, brand-new baby with Grammy. I couldn’t care for her in the state I was in. I hadn’t showered. I was so embarrassed as I walked into that waiting room. I was a complete wreck.
Wanting to be brave and tough, I’d sent my husband to work. I’d be ok. But I wasn’t. My dad brought me to the surgery center but they sent him out of the room during the procedure. Even at 31, I needed my daddy.
The second blood patch hurt worse than the first epidural. I couldn’t even move my legs without excruciating pain shooting up my spine and down my legs. I panicked on the table. I was hysterical and horrified to feel so out of control. I wondered what the nurses were thinking. I didn’t feel even a single ounce of dignity. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The blood patches were supposed to help the pain, not make it worse! I’m not supposed to be alone in this. Why am I alone? Why isn’t anyone helping me?
My baby girl was screaming. She was always screaming from five-to-nine. Colic. My toddler was throwing a tantrum. He always wanted my attention when I was trying to get dinner on the table. My husband wouldn’t be home for another half hour. Thirty minutes felt like infinity. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t calm down. Again. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! I should be able to handle this! I can’t do this by myself. How do all my friends do it? Why can’t I cope with this?
I rocked my baby alone in the dark and sobbed. The darkness felt appropriate. That’s how my world felt. Dark. So dark. And so alone. My husband came in to check on me and I let it all out. I’m not OK! I’m supposed to be happy and grateful and blessed. Instead, I’m anxious and angry and stressed. I’m so sad all the time! Why do I feel so alone! It isn’t supposed to be this way!
Most of my anxious thoughts are lies that my brain tells me. But there is one thought that I know to be true. It really wasn’t supposed to be this way.
It was supposed to be Eden. Paradise. Motherhood was God’s greatest gift to Eve and all women thereafter. Didn’t God say “be fruitful and multiply!” Aren’t women supposed to be blessed to bear children? Instead, in the midst of the blessing, we are cursed with such pain. And not just physical pain.
As I’ve discovered through my struggle with PPD, PTSD, and anxiety, it’s the spiritual pain that has hurt the worst. Sometimes, God feels so far away. Weren’t we supposed to walk beside Him in a garden paradise? Why do we feel so alone sometimes? It wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it?
No, it wasn’t. It WAS supposed to be Eden. It WAS supposed to be paradise.
But sin. Sin entered the world and brought pain. And separation from God. Everything was perfect and now, nothing is.
But, JESUS. Doesn’t His sacrifice redeem how it should have been? He redeems our souls from sin. He redeems us from the pits of depression and fear. He redeems our loneliness. Emmanuel, God with us. His Holy Spirit always in our midst.
And, yes, He even redeems motherhood. Despite our sins and our weaknesses, He graciously allows us to be the vessels He uses to create life. Lives that will live on in eternity. Isn’t that amazing? No, we don’t deserve it. But what a gracious gift.
And, doesn’t He give us glimpses of motherhood in Eden? The way our baby feels snuggled skin to skin. The peaceful way they sleep in our arms. The smell of the tops their heads. Their chubby fingers curled around ours.
Day after day, as they grow up before our eyes, we see it. Glimpses of Eden. Moments of Paradise. Gifts straight from God.
Yes, it all should have been perfect. Now, it isn’t. But someday . . . it will be.
“But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”