>Measuring Motherhood with a Broken Ruler –My Journey through Postpartum Depression

>(Author’s note – Sometimes God leads us through struggles and asks that our survival stories be shared for His glory. This is one of those stories. It’s the first in a series about my two journeys with Prenatal and Postpartum Depression (PPD). I am sharing these raw experiences as an offering of hope to those who battle an illness affecting at least 60 percent of new mothers; and to share with you a beautiful victory that was won for me by the paradoxical gentle and mighty hand of God.)

Part 1 – When fear rocks the cradle

Pregnancy creates peculiar oddities in a body and mind. A case of the “What ifs” besieges many expectant mothers. “What if my feet stay this size?” “What if my water breaks while I’m driving?” “What if I’m not cut out for breast feeding?” “What if we don’t paint the nursery in time?” Those common concerns are shared openly. In fact there are Web sites created for expectant mothers to construe cyber chit chat about everything from maternity and layette fashions to birthing a placenta.

I joined a few of those chat rooms and made some friends during my first and second trimesters of pregnancy with Pumpkindoodle. But around the time when I entered the anticipated home stretch I bowed out of my e-groups “too busy,” I typed. I’m too weird for you, is what I felt. My apprehensions transcended normalcy and before my baby girl’s tiny fist grasped my shaky finger, I knew I had already failed her.

My greatest fear was clenched from newspaper headlines, Mother Drowns her Children…Postpartum Depression Blamed. Ironically, I had no idea that the breath-stealing fear invading my conscience and sub conscience mind was a symptom of Prenatal Depression and often a predecessor to PPD. The more I feared losing my mind, the further sanity slipped away.

During months eight and nine my previously insatiable appetite waned. Despite the heavy ropes of fatigue pulling my achy body to bed by 8:30 each evening sleep tarried. And when sleep finally arrived it presented me with traumatic dreams. Dreams of me committing unspeakable acts and being led to my execution.

Privately, I sobbed to the Lord. “I love my baby. I would never do anything to hurt her. I want to be a good mommy. I want to cradle her and play with her and teach her about You. Please don’t let me go crazy God. I am so afraid I’m going to loose my mind. Please God, please don’t ever let me hurt my baby. Please.”

I only shared those fears with God. Not with my husband. Not with my doctor, or with my best friend. No way. They might think me a monster. Instead I wore a pleasant smile and gushed about wanting my sweet girl to arrive as soon as I hit full-term status. In reality I wanted to keep her inside of me. Inside of me where I knew she’d be safe.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. Psalm 56:3-4 NIV

55 thoughts on “>Measuring Motherhood with a Broken Ruler –My Journey through Postpartum Depression

  1. >I had pretty severe PPD, the second time, as well. I had those nightmares, as well. I actually called my hubby home from work one day, as I was sobbing in the phone, because I had awake thoughts of hurting my children. I never did. I never laid one hand on them, but the thought actually crossed my mind! It was the most terrifying day of my life. I went and got help. Thank the Lord, there are people out there who can help.

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  2. >Your couragous writing will be such an encouragement and ministry to so many women. Thank you for allowing God to be glorified through your suffering…and praise Him for His deliverance!

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  3. >I lost my younger brother in a car accident one month and 10 days before my first daughter was born. I was TERRIFIED of adding PPD to my already full plate of general grief. Fortunately God spared me the additional measure, and other than random tears I never even experienced it with my younger three girls. PPD is a very scary thing!

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  4. >It breaks my heart to think of so many young women struggling with something (like PPD) that they feel they have to hide. It’s real, it happens and people need to be aware of it. You have blessed many today by sharing your testimony and providing links for information. Thank you for your transparency. (I’ve not experienced PPD to the degree that you have described, although the dreams during pregnancy are as bizzare and sometime violent as one could possibly imagine.)Bless you Sister!

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  5. >BTW – Your blog roll mentions Mark Batterson as your former pastor. He recently spoke at out church (Healing Place Church-Baton Rouge,LA). I so enjoyed listening to him give the word he gave! It was awesome. Loved his book too. (I have two copies because I accidentally bought a copy in Spanish!)

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  6. >I am so thankful that you are being vulnerable and offering yourself and your pain to others. I truly believe that Papa is going to bring women to your blog who need to hear these things.I am looking forward to reading on and journeying with you as you tell us your story.Your courage will bless so many.Love,Julie

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  7. >(Thanks for visiting my blog and letting me know you stopped by!)You have bravely and beautifully written about a difficult experience. I look forward to reading more of your story. I’m not a particularly religious person, but since becoming a mom to a baby with lots of health issues, I just know in my heart that God has not given me more than I can handle, and I know that God blessed my husband and me with our daughter for a reason. I like what you said about God leading us through struggles in order to share our survival stories – I find peace in knowing that my story may help another mom one day, and I am sure your story is doing that right now.

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  8. >Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am fairly new to the blog world and find the tranparency and consequent vulnerability in blog posts really refreshing. Your posts are so honest… thank you for being real and caring enough to share.

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  9. >It takes a lot of courage to share something like this. We all want to keep up a look of pefection and happiness. I know your story will help many other women who have suffered the same way as you have.

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  10. >Thanks for the comment on my blog.I love me some new bloggy friends!Luckily I never suffered PPD, but did get baby blues after each one for a while. And when they cried…well, lets just say that was hard. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. >It is very courageous of you to be willing to share your story with other women.I never had PPD but I had some extreme gender disappointment issues when we found out our daughter was a girl. It’s interesting how these things get better when you talk about them, but no one wants to talk about them.

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  12. >Your blog is wonderful! I’m so glad you stopped by mine! I will be coming back to read your writing often. I also strongly believe that God calls us to share our experiences to reach others who may be struggling. Vulnerability can be a very scary thing. Thank you for your willingness to step out into the uncomfortable! I have a feeling God is going to use your honest series of posts to help alot of people.

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  13. >Hi, thanks for stopping by. I love what you have written in your side bar. Very true.I wouldn’t say I suffered from ppd, but I did have thoughts from time to time which caused me to freak out for a second. By the grace of God I was able to control my thoughts and keep out of any depression rut.

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  14. >i actually had a difficult bout with PPD after my first baby, but bc she was my first, i didn’t know what was “normal” and what wasn’t, so it escalated for a long time before i saw how bad it was. i try to mention it and tell others about my experience whenever it seems appropriate, to make sure if it happens to them, it’s ok, and they aren’t the only ones! great post.Megan

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  15. >Wow. I agree with everyone here– you are being amazingly brave and honest with this post. PPD (along with ‘regular’ depression and anxiety, who have also been my friends throughout life at different levels of intensity) is something that so many women fear talking about with anyone else, when what they need most at that time is support. My own stories are varied with each pregnancy and baby, but I can empathize with you. I also see that you are a friend of Corinne’s (littlest bird)– I’m wondering if you are in the same state as us, and if that picture could, by any chance, be taken at the MC (where both Corinne and I had our first two babies)?

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  16. >Motherhood is very stressful, and pregnancy really does mess you up sometimes. I’ve had four kids, and sometimes still battle ‘unreasonable’ fear and doubt and feel frequently overwhelmed by the weight of my responsibilities. Other times I feel totally blessed and can’t believe how amazing they are. It really is a balancing act. Your writing is very real and honest and it seems like that’s a good outlet for you. Keep writing!!

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  17. >I had ppd with my second. I ended up going home to my mom and just let her take care of me for a whole month. I can’t imgaine what I would have done without her, and I hurt for women who don’t have a mom to run home to. It is a scary feeling. And I HATE the awful dreams about hurting my children. I always wake from those just feeling physically sick.

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  18. >Thanks for stopping by my blog!! I have really enjoyed reading yours. I truly feel as though I too suffered from PPD (undiagnosed OBVIOUSLY) after my second child who was VERY unexpected. I am praying for all of you new moms (I am a new mom to my 3rd boy). Being a mom is hard business, but the joys and blessings it brings is amazing. Praying that God will bless you on your road to being a healthier YOU!!

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  19. >Hello! Thank you for your comments on my blog! 🙂 I came over here when you first left a comment, but our plate is very full right now, so I have snatch time here and there. Right now I have a little time to read your blog. I will surely be back! Thank you for sharing your PPD story. I too have struggled with severe depression. I had three children during it. I still have bouts of it. But the Lord has been teaching me alot through it. (((hugs))) I highly anticipate the rest of “your story”! Blessings and love

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  20. >Wow, what an impacting post. My heart goes out to you, and others who have struggled with severe PPD. No doubt you’ve encouraged others by your openness. Thank you for sharing. You’ve definitely given me a deeper level of understanding. Blessings,Tracy

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  21. >It’s amazing how vulnerable we become. I have dealt with fear my entire life and up until recently where God allowed me to go through some fire and learn to fight with Him on my side. He has freed me of my fear, insecurities, lack of trust, etc. Isn’t wonderful that we can go to him, that we aren’t alone and to think we are is a lie of the enemy. But so many of us, believe these lies. Its a process a renewal of heart and mind. Thank you Jesus for not giving up. I think you rock.

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  22. >Wow, what a surprise to return your visit, and find this transparent post–considering the content of my own post today! The Lord is mighty and He is at work. :~DI’ve never read a first hand account of PPD. I look forward to hearing the rest of your story. I’m terribly sorry for your suffering, but thank you for being willing to share for the sake of others.Many blessings, e-Mom @ Chrysalis

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  23. >Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment on my blog. Yours is so great and insightful.I tagged you on my blog, if you are interested. Most of all, thanks for being real and honest and open. I am sure your post will reach many people.

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  24. >Than k you for sharing–I think you are helping so many moms out there with your brave posts!PPD is so horrible–it just doesn’t seem fair to rob a new mom of this special time 😦

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  25. >Oh, God bless you for being so blatantly open in order to reach out to others…In my case, I had PPD after my first was born- which was in part also post-trauma stress and depression. I had actually nearly died right after childbirth with internal bleeding and was rushed to surgery (the kind where you’re awake the whole time) and needless to say, it was true trauma for me.Because of the blood loss (despite a transfusion) I was extremely weak for a long time…which made me just want to sleep for weeks and not have the responsibilities of taking care of a newborn. I lamented the fact that I wasn’t having those warm, fuzzy feelings I was suppose to have…I felt guilty and depressed.There’s a sad photo taken where I’m trying to sleep and recover after coming home, and my husband puts our sleeping baby in bed with me…but I am so exhausted I almost resent having her in the bed…I want to sprawl out and relax…and I’m turned away from her trying to go back to sleep.It makes me want to cry just thinking about this…such a far cry from the second time around when God granted me the blessing of enjoying my newborn baby as I had always hoped to. In fact, I cuddled with her so much that I would gaze with love at her and well up with tears. Of course, I feel guilty even now that it wasn’t in me for my firstborn…even though I know it wasn’t by choice.

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  26. >What an encouragement you are to so many others out there who have experienced the same thing. Becoming a parent is so amazing but scary and overwhelming at the same time! Thanks for your words!

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  27. >Thanks for sharing! I, too, had PPD with both my kids, but worse with my second. The thing that’s important to mention is that it’s not a rage feeling of being out of control. It’s a calm, eerily peaceful feeling of ‘I just want to end it all now…” It’s a calm, deep sadness. The good news is that God is Bigger than any feelings associated with PPD. Seek Him and a good doctor!Joyfully His,Jen in Jax

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  28. >The sharing of stories like yours is so important to the community of mothers. So often, we want to cover up our struggles, certain that we’ve struggled alone. But that’s just not true. I appreciate your transparency and willingness to open your heart. I had PPD with both of my children and know how debilitating it can be. The first time around, I didn’t know anyone else who had had PPD, and that made it all the worse. The second time, I had a network of support and knew that I wasn’t alone.Thanks for your honesty.

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  29. >Wow, what depth of inner turmoil. Oh how I ache for women with PPD. I never had it with my two. But my battle of going crazy is there. Other things that drive me deeper into depair. I am so thankful we have a God who holds us and never lets us go. Thanks for sharing your heart and for praying for me with my PACE study. Appreciate you.

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  30. >Jen from Jax – Thank you. I agree with your statement about the quiet calm of extreme feelings. I did experience that, but then I also felt horrible anxieties and panic attacks that I’ll go into later as well as rageful moments.

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  31. >Those feelings are real. AND whether every mother would be so brave as to admit…has had similar fears and feelings. Even though it has long since past my days of youthful childbearing years…I still vividly remember the “what-if-syndrome” that I myself endured. But God was there—with this inexperienced mother–of 21. Now my girls have boys of their own. I pray that they will not have the feelings of “hopelessness” and “helplessness” that we sometimes feel…especially thinking that *everything* must be done PERFECT. It doesn’t. Feed ’em, Change ’em, Love ’em. At all times. The way the Lord does us.You are an incredible writer! I am indeed blessed to have been here!

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  32. >I came to your site from Boo Mama’s. Wow. Thanks for sharing your heart. I just wrote a book about the first year of motherhood (Changing Your World One Diaper at a Time, Harvest House), and several friends shared their PPD stories with me. (I put 2 in the book.) They so wanted to help other moms who feel alone going through this! Good for you!!

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  33. >I think it’s wonderful that you are able to share your story to help others. Thank you for listening and obeying the Spirit’s prompting in your heart!

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  34. >I saw your blog thru my friend, the Motherboard. First, may I say that you write beautifully! Second, thank you for speaking out about Potpartum Depression. I have had very similar experiences as yours and was afraid to admit i to anyone. I finally asked for an antidepressant when i was expecting baby #3 and it helped. I recently wrote about dealing with depression on my blog, if you interested in reading it.Thank you

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  35. >I went through my own valley after having my two kids. The first couple years were so difficult for me.I think its a good thing moms are coming out of their shame and sharing their pain. We need to support one another!Lori

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  36. >thank you for sharing … i agree, PPD is scary … but am glad that there are people out there who are really sincere about offering their help. 🙂

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  37. >I read this one a while ago, and didn’t take the time to comment. I’ve ridden both the anxiety and depression wagon for years, and love your poignant, realistic point of view. I pray your peace and serenity throughout these amazing, but trying years. Thank you for sharing with others. It’s not so lonely when we all realize that we each have something to deal with–I believe those somethings are often allowed for us so that we’ll surrender in total dependence to Him. xxxooogretchen

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  38. >Thank you for such a deep and raw sharing of your experience with PPD. I had severe PPD with my daughter (now 3-1/2) and thought those exact same words (“…she’d be better off without me, I am such a horrible mother..”). That was the start of my journey through PPD and nearly 2 years to recovery. I am due in 3 weeks with sweet baby #2 and hearing that I wasn’t the only one with those exact thoughts is very comforting. Through prayer, support and planning, I hope to avoid PPD with #2. But if it is part of our Lord’s plan for me, I know that there is so much support out there that my family and I will make it through. God bless you and your ministry! Sarah

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  39. >Thanks so much for sharing! This is my first time to your blog and I look forward to reading more. I had PPD, but didn’t realize it until my daughter was 1 1/2 years old. I am sure your honesty will help others realize they need to seek help ASAP!

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