I am always duped by the first four or five days after a baby is born. My emotions are high. I am in love all over again. Each time with a new man. And even more in love with my main man.
Then after a few weeks of sleep deprivation and extreme hormone shifts, I start to feel the bleakness of my reality. I am never going to sleep again. The baby cries so much. I don’t always know how to calm him. Nursing is a commitment like none other. It feels like that’s all I am doing with my entire life is nurse, change, and rock the [sweet] baby. My hands are never free. I cry anytime I feel anything…regardless of the type of emotion I feel…happy, sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, in love…all produce tears.
With my first baby, I thought for sure this would be the way my life would be for the rest of my life. That I would always feel this overwhelmed and desperate. That I would never find myself again. I did find myself again. I did find my footing. After my second son, I remember just the normal “baby blues”…weepiness for a while, but not desperate. Overwhelmed but not as though I had disappeared.
This time I feel shocked. Surprised that these old dark feelings are creeping in and feel more extreme than I expected. This time, though, I will not hide them like I did with my first. I will fight against the lies that come with these feelings. The lies that hauntingly say, “If you struggle like this, you are not a very good mom” and “these feelings of sadness are going to ruin your child” and “because you are on edge you won’t bond with your baby.”
In so many ways, I let these lies rule my reality with my first son for so long. It was years later that I felt release and freedom and truth and healing in my heart in regard to those lies that had set up camp for way too long. Lies that were condemning and guilt-filled. Lies that wanted me to believe them so I’d already feel sunk from the beginning of motherhood.
This time as I feel the emotions and exhaustion creep in and become intertwined with disheartening lies, I find myself fighting back. I am talking about what I am feeling with my trusted people. My husband is truly with me in this, offering all the support he can both practically and emotionally…always my best friend. And I am asking Jesus to help me during this season. Asking Him to give insight and healing. I feel Him pouring truth onto my heart.
Truth that tells me to take hold of my thoughts and give them to Him. To recognize that as I feel overwhelmed in my heart, He can illuminate what in my thoughts and feelings that I should hold onto and what I need to release. To stop and see what is good. To see how far we’ve already come as a family in the last four weeks.
I feel Him reminding me to slow down. To not get in over my head in what I plan for a day. To prioritize what actually matters and to release the rest. I feel Him reminding me to lean on the supports I do have. To keep my heart light and refreshed even in small ways…like reading light fiction during middle of the night feedings and taking a shower each morning to start the day fresh and making a point to get outside every day.
And to understand that I just don’t handle hormone shifts well, nor do I handle sleep deprivation well. And that is okay. It is really okay. I am not “less” because of it.
Of course, sharing all of this is so vulnerable. However, not only is it good for my heart…to be honest and real about where I am and who I am, it is also important because I know there are others of you out there reading this who have struggled or are struggling with similar feelings. Feelings of sadness, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, or being overwhelmed with the reality of a new baby in your life. So I share this as a way to process for myself, but also in an effort to encourage you. We are not alone. This part is hard. There is hope. It will not be like this forever.
For those of you who have struggled with an extended season of “baby blues” or even post-partum depression, what is your story? What helped you come out on the other side? I would love to hear about your experience. Please do share.