July 16, 2008

No such thing as superwoman…

I have hesitated writing this blog post, as it deals with something very personal in my life. However, after much discernment, I feel it on my heart to share with those that read this my journey into the depths of something I never thought I’d deal with. And I do this in hopes of highlighting not only the commonality of this issue but also to shed some light for others who might be struggling with the very same thing.

For the past two months I have been dealing with Postpartum Depression.

It’s funny because right before Avila was born, Michael asked me if I thought I’d ever go through this and, with a little scoff, might I add, I honestly said no. Of course there were the hormonal tears every evening for a week, stemming from who knows where, after we came home from the hospital, but these were just the “Baby Blues” that every woman deals with in one capacity or another. However, right around the time Avila turned 3 months old, I took a turn for the worse.

I had always been a happy mom, with my heart overflowing with love and joy for the miracle I was blessed to be with on a daily (and nightly) basis. I looked at the challenges of being a mom as a way to grow holier, and I accepted the new tasks before me with vigor and zeal. But then God threw Avila many crosses – from reflux, to multiple ear infections and sleepless days – and I began to crumble under the weight of mine.

I could tell that something wasn’t quite right when I started to become an angry person. If you ask the people around me they’d tell you that I can be stubborn and, yes, a bit bossy, but never angry. I was angry at the God I always leaned on in times of trial. I was angry at my beautiful baby who, herself, was in pain. And I was angry at my incredible husband – blaming him sometimes for when things didn’t go right with our little girl. I was crying everyday and I felt completely helpless as a mom – it was like I didn’t know what to do.

I woke up one morning at the end of June, after a not so great night, and realized this whole thing was bigger than me. I realized I had become a different person, someone I didn’t even know. I called Michael at work and told him I thought something was wrong with me. And, at that moment, the funny thing that brought me peace was Michael saying he recognized it, too. Being the proactive person he is, he had been doing some reading about Postpartum Depression and he brought to my attention some of the symptoms…check, check, check…they were all there. We agreed we would go see my doctor that very day. Being informed that this is a hormonal imbalance and that things could get worse if left untreated, I agreed to go on medication. But God decided to throw another wrench into the equation.

The next day I took Avila in to her doctor again. This was the day we discovered she has reflux. I proceeded to tell her pediatrician that I was going to start medication for Postpartum Depression, as I knew it could pass into breast milk. He advised that, if on this medication, I shouldn’t breastfeed. My heart dropped. For one, Avila doesn’t take a bottle too well, and, two, nursing has been so beneficial in my relationship with my daughter. So, we decided to begin treating Avila and to continue monitoring my own situation without meds. God was asking me to take the harder road once more…

This brings me to today. I still have rough days – especially now that my solace of her good nights’ sleep has been taken away, as well – but things are looking brighter. I have a beautiful daughter and an incredibly supportive husband. And I have a God that loves me even when I’m not good to Him (which has been a lot lately). I have sunny days and long walks overlooking the water and family that travels the distance to spend time with me during rough patches.

I even received a beautiful prayer blanket made by the prioress at the Carmelite Monastery in Seattle. (For those who don’t know, St. Teresa of Avila started the present day Discalced Carmelite Order.) They had heard of a baby named Avila and despite not knowing Avila’s or my situation these past couple months (let alone not knowing us!), made a blanket for her and sent along a prayer card that has been my refuge almost everyday. The prayer, written by St. Teresa of Avila, reads:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

Yes, it is true, all things are passing. I don’t feel guilty or less than for going through all this. It hasn’t been easy, but having a baby isn’t supposed to be. So, with God’s help, I will attempt to let nothing disturb me – even when faith is the hardest thing to possess.

Avila wrapped in the prayer blanket...


Kate said...


I am holding you close in my thoughts and prayers.

Katherine Stone said...

Thank you for being brave and sharing what you're going through. There are hundreds of thousands of women like you. We support you in your recover.

Helen Bobbitt said...

Hi Kristine,

Your babe is absolutely gorgeous and I am sending hugs your way and to your hubby and darling child.

I admire you for speaking out about your struggle. You see, I too was affected by post-partum depression and have been on medication since (although it is very different for everyone and for me, I am slowly weaning off ot it.)

For me, I put it off until Gracie was about 6 months old and was crying really hard one day, and for some reason, I couldn't calm myself down and I know what you mean when you say...angry. That was all I could think of- and I couldn't switch it off either.

I am praying for you and your family and again, anytime you need to talk, I am just a phone call away.

All the best!

PS - what is your mailing address? I have had an outfit for your cutie (so has Ellie) for the longest time.



Britta said...

You're all in my prayers. And how cool that you recieved that prayer blanket!?

Totally random, but I tagged you for a "quirks meme" on my blog... check it out!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kris,
I love you! One day at a time, huh? Know you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers daily and we will connect one of these days on the phone!
=) That prayer blanket is awesome!

CARRIE said...

I have nursed my son for almost 10 months while taking Lexapro without any problems. If you really need the medication, take it. Your daughter will be fine. You may want to read Dr. Jack Newman's The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. A miniscule amount of AD is better than no breastmilk or you going increasingly downhill emotionally. Trust me, I've been there.

Chris, Meghan, and Cate said...

Always know that you are all Avila will ever need. You are enough. God gave her to you and Michael for that reason. It takes emense amounts of courage to tell your story, thank you for that. You all are in our thoughts and prayers!

Kim said...

Hi. I am yet another woman who understands what you are going through. I went from being a capable, confident, pastor, to an insecure, bumbling, overwhelmed mess... all because of PPD.

I hope to encourage you in two ways:
1) there ARE meds that are safe during breastfeeding - Dr. Hale also has a book about them. The risk of the baby being cared for by a PPD mom is often worse than the risk of the baby being affected by the drugs. You CAN do both.

2) I finally realized after many questions, and after yet another person said "maybe God gave this to you because, etc. etc." that I don't believe God gives his daughters PPD. I would never do that to my child... put him through the worst and darkest months imaginable to "teach him something". God already did that to Jesus, to teach US something. That He is for us and not against us, he brings healing where the enemy brings illness. I don't think He gives such things for a reason - more that he takes what life, satan, and consequences throw at us - and He is able to make things beautiful.

God loves you and wants to help you through this, he wants to help you bear it, not throw more at you... Though I know that can be hard to believe when you feel abandoned.

I was on meds for 6 months and weaned off when I was myself again. You will be yourself again, you will be happy, and you are not alone. Email me anytime!

You will make it through this.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey Kristine, I just saw your blog. Know you are in my prayers. I have had a bit of the "baby blues" and I can only imagine how hard the post-partum depression could make you feel. Know God is with you, and He will continue to help you be a wonderful mother! God bless girl, you're in my prayers!

-Bekah Spencer

Shannon said...

Good luck and much love and prayers as you begin the process to feeling better. Your courage and bravery in sharing not only helps mothers in their struggles but helps prepare the rest of us for what may be to come.

God bless!


Anonymous said...

Hi Kristine,

Avila is beautiful, thank you so much for sharing all your pictures with us. Thank you, too, for being open to sharing your struggles. I think God is working through you to touch other's lives with your willingness to be open to telling others about your struggles. Know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers!

: ) Melena (WAGirl_98@hotmail.com)

kris said...

Kristine - I wrote a little post about my own experience with depression. I'll keep you in prayer during our family rosary. Call on the Blessed Mother to be a Mother to you when you feel like you jst don't have the energy to GIVE any more.
Your sister in Christ - Kris

Val said...

You'll be in our nightly rosary :). What an incredible gift from the Prioress! Just a little lift and sign of promise from Christ's brides.