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...