(Author’s note – Sometimes God leads us through struggles and asks that our survival stories be shared for His glory. This is one of those stories. It’s the first in a series about my two journeys with Prenatal and Postpartum Depression (PPD). I am sharing these raw experiences as an offering of hope to those who battle an illness affecting at least 60 percent of new mothers; and to share with you a beautiful victory that was won for me by the paradoxical gentle and mighty hand of God.)
Part 1 - When fear rocks the cradle
Pregnancy creates peculiar oddities in a body and mind. A case of the “What ifs” besieges many expectant mothers. “What if my feet stay this size?” “What if my water breaks while I’m driving?” “What if I’m not cut out for breast feeding?” “What if we don’t paint the nursery in time?” Those common concerns are shared openly. In fact there are Web sites created for expectant mothers to construe cyber chit chat about everything from maternity and layette fashions to birthing a placenta.
I joined a few of those chat rooms and made some friends during my first and second trimesters of pregnancy with Pumpkindoodle. But around the time when I entered the anticipated home stretch I bowed out of my e-groups “too busy,” I typed. I’m too weird for you, is what I felt. My apprehensions transcended normalcy and before my baby girl’s tiny fist grasped my shaky finger, I knew I had already failed her.
My greatest fear was clenched from newspaper headlines, Mother Drowns her Children…Postpartum Depression Blamed. Ironically, I had no idea that the breath-stealing fear invading my conscience and sub conscience mind was a symptom of Prenatal Depression and often a predecessor to PPD. The more I feared losing my mind, the further sanity slipped away.
During months eight and nine my previously insatiable appetite waned. Despite the heavy ropes of fatigue pulling my achy body to bed by 8:30 each evening sleep tarried. And when sleep finally arrived it presented me with traumatic dreams. Dreams of me committing unspeakable acts and being led to my execution.
Privately, I sobbed to the Lord. “I love my baby. I would never do anything to hurt her. I want to be a good mommy. I want to cradle her and play with her and teach her about You. Please don’t let me go crazy God. I am so afraid I’m going to loose my mind. Please God, please don’t ever let me hurt my baby. Please.”
I only shared those fears with God. Not with my husband. Not with my doctor, or with my best friend. No way. They might think me a monster. Instead I wore a pleasant smile and gushed about wanting my sweet girl to arrive as soon as I hit full-term status. In reality I wanted to keep her inside of me. Inside of me where I knew she’d be safe.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. Psalm 56:3-4 NIV