After the birth of my son, I was on the lookout for signs of baby blues. I did the screenings, which usually consist of questions like, "Do you feel overwhelmed since the birth of your child?"
Um. Yeah. If you took your first child home from the hospital and didn't wonder what the heck you were doing MOST of the time that first month or so, raise your hand.
Right? Getting the hang of breastfeeding, recovering from a return trip to the hospital the week after giving birth, getting absolutely NO sleep, and trying to maintain some semblance of who I used to be about wiped me out during maternity leave. Then I had to go back to work. I had to leave the sweet blue eyes that had depended upon me every moment of every days for over two months in the arms of a relative stranger and go sit behind a desk every day and pretend that I knew what day it was and that I was competent to earn my salary. All of this while still not really getting much sleep.
I'm not complaining...the fantastic thing about motherhood is that you have a LOT of company in those trenches. People to ask questions and help you decipher the mystery that is "baby." Just explaining that I had all the disorientation of someone who had been dropped off on another planet.
Somewhere between fall, winter, and spring, though, I became increasingly off-kilter. I would be overwhelmed with the smallest tasks. Sometimes just choosing what to eat for lunch would send me spiraling into despair, as I was also coping with a new body and less time in general. Forget trying to get dressed when nothing fit the way it used to. I cried every day. I would usually cry while rocking Shepard to sleep in the evening, lamenting the time that I didn't get to spend with him that day, wondering how he acted in his infant "class." I would either cry or fall asleep myself in the rocking chair.
I had had friends who had dealt with the baby blues. I was on the lookout for it. I just assumed that this overwhelmed feeling was a natural part of becoming a mother. How would I know? I had never been one before; and in a lot of ways, you have to learn a new way to be...putting your own needs aside to care for the littlest member of the household. And I did all of this with the most supportive husband/dad you could ask for. I can't even imagine not having had that.
It seemed that at every turn, I was not enough. I would see blogs for stay-at-home moms who had time to do artsy-crafts worthy of selling on Etsy who made their baby's organic food they had grown from seed in their backyard. Working moms with small waists who could plan the church festival, volunteer at the homeless shelter, and make sure each weekend was packed with educational and fun family time. (perhaps I exaggerate, but realize that this was what it felt like...) I was literally doing well to get Shepard dressed, remember to haul all the stuff I needed for the day, get myself showered and dressed and keep up with my job. There was no way I could incorporate a daily learning activity into our mornings or evenings. Exercise? I mean, how? I didn't have enough energy to sit with my eyes open, much less hit a treadmill.
I remember well the day that I was able to identify what was going on with me. I had just had a conversation the day before with a friend. This friend is the working mom who has a weekly meal plan and seemingly endless energy and a clean house...that I perceived as having EVERYTHING together. When she admitted that she had had a bout with depression after the second child and had to use some medication for a time, something in my spirit just clicked. The next day, as I sat at my desk crying, embarrassed to be crying at work...just wanting to run out and take my kid to the park...I saw the depression for what it was. It was something out of my control.
It had nothing to do with my faith or lack thereof. It said nothing about my capabilities as a wife, mother or employee.It was a perfect storm of NO SLEEP, a dangerously low level of vitamin D (as I found out when I went to the doctor), and some baby blues.
The only was I can describe how I felt is that I was in the bottom of a deep hole. I could see the sky above, but could conceive of NO WAY to get out of the hole. It was a tired despair. I had been fantasizing about stealing Shepard and Jerod and moving to another country (France!). Thankfully, I never progressed to suicidal or anything dangerous to myself or others. But, I had lost all hope. And that is a dark, dark place to be.
Once I went to the doctor, found a medication that would help even me out, and starting in on some hefty doses of vitamin D, I began to feel human again. Oh. There is a ladder out of this hole! Sometimes we need help. Let's not continue to whisper about depression. Let's help each other through life's ups and downs. I still don't have my weekly meal plan worked out or have the gumption to make my first million selling handmade crafts; but I breathe deeply, count my blessings, and thank God for doctors. I also quit reading most of those blogs that made me feel less-than. I am all that God created me to be as long as I follow after Him.