My son was three weeks old and I was home alone with my three kids. I put the girls in the bath and sat on the toilet breast feeding my baby. Then I put my baby in his chair and got my girls out of the bath and dressed for bed while my son screamed the whole time. Then I picked up my son, burped him and tried soothing him while he was still screaming. I got him into the bath and he finally stopped screaming while the girls were playing nicely in their room. Breathe, just breathe. Then I got my son out of the bath, layed him on my bed to get him dressed and he screamed and cried so hard he nearly stopped breathing. And that was the moment. I burst into tears saying ‘please stop crying!’
This was an almost daily occurrence in those beginning months with my son. I thought this must just be life with three kids. I thought it was normal and that I was just tired and exhausted having three kids in three years. I remember chatting with friends listening to them talk about the special bond between mother and sons and how different it is from having girls. I chirped in telling them that it’s nothing but hard work and fuss with boys and it’s much easier to bond with girls. Their expression said it all. What’s wrong with her? Doesn’t she love her son?
Of course I loved my son. I just wanted him to stop screaming all the time, to stop feeding from me so much and take more than a 20 minute nap during the day. It wasn’t until I stopped breast feeding my son at six months with no increase in energy or mental focus that I decided to go see a doctor. ‘Somethings not right, I wake up cranky and exhausted no matter how much sleep I get, I’m irritable and am losing my patience like I never used to. I just don’t feel myself.’ And that was all I needed to say to discover I was struggling with depression.
But wait, I don’t believe in depression. That’s for weak minded people who feel sorry for themselves. Oh yes, I truly did think like that. But then I learned what depression really is. A hormonal imbalance in the body that’s slowing down your thought process, clouding your creativity, and inhibiting your emotions. Hormones, hormones – where for art thou hormones?? But not only was I suffering from a temporary dip but had permanently lost vital hormones due to an under active thyroid. Anti-depressants are not the only medicine. I have found that asking for prayer and help has been the most successful road to recovery. However, if you are not improving in health don’t feel guilty or like a failure for taking medication. It can be a great aid to helping you focus your mind so that you can reconnect with God.
If you have suffered or are suffering with postnatal depression I want to tell you that you are not a failure. You are not a bad mother or have any less love to give to your baby.
According to recent research, by 4children, up to 58% of new mums who suffer from postnatal depression do not seek medical help from lack of knowledge about symptoms or a fear of reporting the problem. Here are the symptoms for postnatal depression.
- low mood
- constant exhaustion
- inability to cope
- feelings of guilt regarding their inability to cope or not loving the baby enough
- overwhelming anxiety
- difficulty sleeping
- lack of appetite
- difficulties bonding with the baby
- relationship difficulties with the partner
- low energy
- low sex drive
- social withdrawal (from family and friends)
- crying for no reason
Those who experience three symptoms are considered to have mild PND, five-to-six symptoms to have moderate PND, and those experiencing more than six to have severe PND. – nhs.co.uk
I want to encourage you to always remember to reach out to God in times of despair. Don’t let the enemy make you believe you are the only mother in the world who feels this way. You are not alone. Many have walked this path before and many more will still. Reach out to God and let him carry you to help. During this season of my life I would either burst into tears at very random times of the day or fall asleep silently sobbing into my pillow.
But I kept crying out to God and not just my pillow. I held onto his truth that I was a new creation, that there was wholeness for me and that he wanted more than this for my life.
And I believe that for you also. All mothers are destined to share the love of Christ with their children. So let God pour his love onto you by allowing him to guide you to wholeness in this broken time. Don’t hide. Seek help, prayer, love and support. God is waiting for you.