Followed by the worst six months of my life.
I knew I would be tired. I knew this would make thinking more difficult. I knew I would have to let go of things. I knew it would take some adjusting. I knew there was going to be scads of learning and trial and error. In all that, I still thought the sun would shine. But I was blue. I was really struggling. Really.
And the most difficult part was knowing I shouldn't feel that way. Everywhere I went, people would comment how amazing it is to become a mother. How blessed I was to have such a beautiful, healthy daughter. How wonderful it was to know my dream was finally fulfilled. How happy they were for me.
But why wasn't I happy?
Yes, there was the typical lack of sleep. The expected shock of change. The understandable feelings of inadequacy and uncertainty. Add that to a rough delivery that created more damage than expected. I'd lost a considerable amount of blood and had a slow start (thanks again for daddy). My tailbone hurt for six months, along with other parts I wont mention. And then problems with breast feeding that created more damage. I had daily hospital visits over Christmas to painfully drain a 4cm deep abscess in my breast and receive IV antibiotics.
My body and my brain felt devastatingly overwhelmed. As I looked at my little miracle, one I just couldn't believe I actually had after years of waiting and trying to adopt, I started to wonder if I was failing to develop an attachment. Was I too afraid to lose what I had always wanted? Was I struggling because what I thought I had been made for ended up being harder than I had expected?
As the days went by, I couldn't even function. In those first six months I did not once clean the floor. Not once did I put her laundry away. The bathroom was neglected. My husband worked and came home to do more than his share. I forced myself to get dressed. In no way did I feel productive and successful. Bitterness built up inside me. The best time of my life ticked by unbearably. And it just got worse.
Eventually, I literally couldn't even think. My brain ceased to have any capacity of holding any information. Visiting a friend, I couldn't even recall if I had fed my daughter or not. How could I be a good mother? Was my child safe? Something was wrong.
Something was wrong. My thyroid. It had been hyperactive, producing too much thyroid hormone. I had been losing weight, in spite of an appetite. I was weak, anxious, confused, angry, and losing tremendous amounts of hair. My skin was severely dry and I couldn't sleep. Then all of a sudden, the weight quickly started coming back. My thyroid became damaged from the hyperthyroidism and now it no longer produced enough thyroid. I now had hypothyroidism.
I started thyroid medication. And counseling. The effects of an incapacitating childbirth. A long awaited, unbelievable arrival. Severe mastitis. Thyroid problems. A change in finances. Shattered perfectionism. I couldn't continue to parent worried that I wasn't bonding with my daughter. My anxiety and confusion was putting a strain on my marriage. I couldn't accept that this dream come true was actually going to be a life of failure and overwhelming stress. I had to admit that I had postpartum depression.
It wasn't supposed to be this hard. And it wasn't going to stay that way. I was going to come out of this with confidence and love. But boy, did it take time. Tears. Positive talk. Forgiving. Deep breathing. Letting go.
The counselor actually wanted me to take medication. But I knew I could make it work with diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, and fellowship. I need nutrients. I need a workout. I need enough sleep. I need to be purposeful with my thoughts. I need people. We all do. Especially through change.
When you are in a rough place, there is always someone who kindly asks you to let them know if you need anything. But sometimes you just can't let them know. And so you're left feeling lost. Crying out, but no one can hear. Feeling like not a soul really cares. While they are waiting, genuinely ready to nurture or serve. At your request.
And so there is a gorgeous mountain of loving intention next to a surmounting mountain of crushing need, with a vast chasm in the middle. Emitting so much fog that the one does not see the other. How do we break the interfering haze?
How does one with no voice cry out and be heard? How does one with true intentions shine in a crowd of insincere offers? How does distress reach out and grab support when there is a lack of communication and honesty?
I wasn't going to stand there and say, hello, I'm useless due to postpartum depression, and I need you. Those words would increase my fear that I could not take care of my own child. So many people would have been there for me. But they didn't know I needed them. And if they assumed, they didn't know how to help. And most people weren't going to walk into my house and do something without me asking.
So what do you do? If you are in pain, if you need help, then I hope my transparency can help you see that you are not alone. Sometimes, everything gets out of wack after having a baby and you need a caring friend to step in. Or you need professional help to get back on track. That's okay. The sooner you get help, the sooner it can improve.
And if you think someone is struggling, maybe you can purposefully help. Instead of a general comment tossed into the air, be more specific. Can I bring you dinner tomorrow? Can I clean your floors on Sunday? Can I take you for coffee Friday?
I hope I can see a specific need in someone and step out where I have strengths and abilities. Without assuming and projecting the torment of my own experience, as I'm sure that for most it is not as difficult of a time. But I hope to be able to be there when someone needs me.
I am grateful for the friend who came over when I was overwhelmed with breast feeding. I am thankful for the friend who walked in and cleaned my house (though at the time it felt strange). I am appreciative of my mother doing my daughter's laundry (over and over before finally asking when I would take over the task). I am so blessed to have had an involved husband.
And I am so glad it's over. Now, when people comment that being a mother is amazing, I can honestly say I agree. I am serving my purpose. I know that I am close to my little girl. I know that I am helping her grow into the person she is created to be. And I'm having so much fun along the way.
Parenting is meant to ultimately be an amazing experience. And now that my time of blue sunshine is over, that is what it is for me.