I have to admit, watching new moms on my social media feeds and out in public used to fill me with envy.
These moms looked so proud and filled to the brim with joy and satisfaction, holding and fawning over their babies like the prized jewels they are. I could tell these women relished motherhood.
I often wondered, Why couldn’t I?
Motherhood took me by surprise.
I became pregnant with my first child a mere six months after saying “I do.” I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when I told him what three pregnancy tests had confirmed. He was over the moon to find out he would be a father.
I did my best to prepare my body and our home for our little gift from God. I read all the books and checked popular pregnancy trackers every single week. I exercised and ate as well as my relentless morning sickness would allow. I enjoyed putting together the nursery in our one-bedroom apartment. Friends and family showered us with gifts, love, and support.
Somewhere between weeks 38 and 39, I decided I was ready. At week 40 I was beyond ready.
At week 41 I began to freak out.
At week 42, I went in for labor induction and wound up having a C-section. My baby girl finally arrived, and she was so beautiful. I cried tears of absolute joy.
Tears of joy became tears of pain as we struggled with nursing. Then, tears of exhaustion as we managed sleepless, colicky nights.
I wondered, God, why is this so hard?
I looked forward to getting a break and was eager to hand my daughter over to whoever would hold her.
I chalked it up to hormones and carried on. It will get better is what the moms in my life I trusted told me.
I carried on through a second pregnancy, a third, and a fourth before I confirmed what I suspected but squelched in pursuit of better.
The depression I suffered after my fourth pregnancy was deeper and darker than anything I had experienced before. The tears were constant and anger gave way to rage.
The guilt was unbearable and I could hardly get out of bed, much less take care of myself and a whole family. More than anything, I felt ashamed that I couldn’t get a handle on motherhood. At my lowest point, I decided I couldn’t handle the pain and the guilt and the shame anymore. I started to believe that my family deserved better.
In the middle of that deep, dank pit, I felt an urge to find help. I knew my story wasn’t over, but I knew I could no longer bear my burdens alone.
I started reading a devotional website in the morning on my phone. I started to pray. I found a counselor and attended a postpartum depression support group. I leaned on my husband, family, and friends. I let people in and let them help me find my strength.
I let God in and let Him heal my heart.
As I leaned into God, I learned the difference between the lies I believed and the truth. I learned how to take care of myself—body, soul, and spirit. I learned how to lean on my community, and how to give back. I learned how to forgive others. I learned how to forgive myself.
Postpartum depression stole my joy, but God gave it back to me plus interest.
Every time one of those old lies crops up—the ones that tell me I’m not good enough, that my children deserve a better mother, that all hope is lost—I fight back with the truth. The truth is that God is enough to make up for where I lack, that He loves me no matter what, and that He doesn’t make mistakes
The truth is, I am exactly the mother my children need.
When I try to think back to the first year of my daughter’s life, I don’t remember much. However, today I can cherish the warmth of her hugs now as a 12-year-old girl. I can hold her now like the prized jewel she is and feel deep joy and satisfaction, just like the moms I used to envy before.
Every time I fight the lies, I take back what postpartum depression stole from me. God gave me back the joy of motherhood, and for that, I will always be grateful.
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