This post originally appeared in the Woven Beautiful blog.
I pushed the stroller with my newborn baby nestled inside on a cool winter day. Walks around the lake were life to me, the fresh air soothing to my whole being. As we passed the halfway mark of our stroll, I reflected upon the half marathons I had run and finished. Pain flooded my body by about mile 10, making the finish line seem like an impossible feat. But I crossed it each time and what a relief it was.
Once again, I was at mile 10 but this time for much different reasons. I had come so far but still had a ways to go. I was tired and weary, wondering when the pain would let up, wondering when things would get better.
The wheels continued rolling as I pushed the stroller and the Lord gently spoke to me, assuring me there was a finish line ahead—an end to the raging storm I was desperate to survive.
After years of waiting and praying for another pregnancy, God granted me the desire of my heart. Though I endured a more challenging pregnancy than with my firstborn, I was overjoyed to welcome another baby. I expected that labor would be painful, that I’d be living off less sleep and that there might be some bumps as we settled into new routines as a family.
What I didn’t expect was that after meeting my newest miracle son, I would find myself in the dark dungeon of postpartum depression and anxiety.
I felt like a foreigner trapped in my own body. Overwhelming feelings, panic attacks, insecurities about my mothering abilities, fear like I’ve never known before, waves of heaviness, tears that could fill a river and little joy even though I had just brought a precious miracle into the world.
What in the world?
I wasn’t a stranger to worry or occasional moments of feeling anxious, and I wasn’t a stranger to the feeling of sadness—but this was so much different than anything I had been through. There were hormones spinning through my body that were out of my control.
It was bizarre, terrifying, lonely, confusing.
And it all coupled with a hefty load of physical symptoms—anemia, pains from nursing, headaches, exhaustion, an achy body that felt 20 years older, an inflated body from growing a tiny human…
I was supposed to be enjoying newborn cuddles and the bliss of having another bundle of joy to call my own. Instead, I felt like I was walking straight through hell, robbed of the beauty of such a special time.
There were days I didn’t know how I would survive another day and though people told me it would get better, when you’re in the midst of a storm there is so much unknown. Though I felt nothing like myself, I went through the repetitive motions of changing diapers, nursing, rocking my baby boy and caring for my family the best I could in a weakened state…but my tired eyes could see the toll it was taking on my little family.
I cried out to God, sometimes in a puddle of tears on the kitchen floor, “Lord take this from me. How long, oh Lord? Haven’t I been through enough? I waited so long for another baby and now this? Why this?”
Questions spun through my mind as I tried to make sense of the ugliness. I wondered when it would end, if it would end. I wondered if my boys would be okay and if my heart would ever beat to the tune of joy again. Though I knew I was free in Christ because of His blood shed for me, I felt like I was in chains.
But the Lord stood with me and He didn’t leave me in that place.
One faith-stretching moment at a time, and with the help and fervent prayers of others, I gradually got better and made it through one of the worst storms of my life. I clung to Jesus and the promises found in His Word. Even though my world was spinning out of control—out of my control—He remained in control and faithful to every single promise He has ever made.
Family brought us meals and offered help, my husband supported me and read the Psalms to me at night to ease my fears, my mom calmed me down over the phone during the wee hours of the night with her prayers and presence, sweet friends held me with their prayers and sent me encouraging texts and emails and phone calls to remind me I wasn’t alone. And Jesus, my Good Shepherd—He fought for me, held me, carried me, and ultimately set me free.
Life has felt more normal with each passing month as the storm has cleared.
Beauty has and continues to rise from the ashes of postpartum depression and anxiety, because everything that God allows can be used for our good and His glory. My family is stronger than it was before, I’m learning to receive help and not do it all on my own, my faith that Jesus is always with me is more secure than ever, and my precious Jeremiah John—
Because of grace upon grace he is a healthy and happy boy, now taking tiny steps and inching closer to his first birthday. His sweet smile is a gift and has a way of reminding me how truly blessed I am to be his mama.
It takes time to recover from the storms of life and my family is still healing, but I am grateful to my King for leading me out of the dark valley. He held my boys, my family in the palm of His Hand because never does He leave or forsake us. Jesus is greater than all darkness and when it seems like there is no way, no hope left—He makes a way.
It was difficult for me to read much of anything other than Scripture when I was going through it, but if there’s a mama reading this going through something similar—
Take heart, Dear Mama. It will get better. The strange feelings will lift. Normalcy will return. There is a finish line ahead.
I still walk around the same lake pushing a stroller with a growing baby and sometimes a growing boy speeding past on his bike—and my heart once again beats with joy.
I made it.
And I know the best is still to come.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” ~ John 8:36
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