Postpartum Voice of the Week: Raising Little Women’s “The “D” Word”


I loved this piece not only for the beautiful and talented writing but for the inclusion of Christianity into the battle this Mom is currently fighting.

When I was first struggling through Postpartum OCD, I had a Christian background but did not consider myself to be Christian at the time. As I started my support group, I shied away from starting it at a Church so as not to make potential attendees uncomfortable. Then I met Tara Mock, the founder of Out of the Valley, a faith-based Postpartum site. Tara led me to Sue McRoberts and eventually I met Rebecca Ingram. While we all haven’t met in person yet, I admire all three of these women for their strong faith and know in my heart of hearts that God put them in my path to help my own faith grow.

And grow it has.

I was baptized (again) this past April. I have no doubt that whatever has come my way is for a reason even if I do not believe it a the time. It has been so very comforting to finally be in a place where, if something goes wrong, I know I can lean hard on God to take care of it all. Even when I was not at this place, it was not because I had not prayed enough. It was not because I had been a bad “Christian.” It was not me. It was God, carrying me through a storm because He knew what was down the road for me. I am finally grateful for my experience. Do I wish it had never happened? Sure. But it did. So I deal with it I must.

Today’s voice hid her depression for five long years despite having noticed not feeling right after the birth of her daughter, Sarah. She observes her reason why so many struggle in isolation with depression:

Depression is a subject that many people do not like to talk about, especially in the church, which is very unfortunate for those that face this day in and day out. We should be able to come to one another, as brothers & sisters in Christ, and share one another’s burdens. But yet so many people face depression alone.

I believe the cause of this is due to what is being said from pulpits, what is written in books, blogs or spoken amongst friends. I once believed the lie, that if you are struggling with depression 1) you have sin in your life, 2) you have turned your back on God 3) God is punishing you for past sins.

As she moved forward to seek help, she also struggled with these very issues.

I started searching online, found a sickness that I thought I had, went to the doctor, told him what I thought was wrong, and wanted him to fix it. I can’t remember exactly what I told him I thought I had, something about blood sugar. When he told me he thought I was dealing with depression, I fought him on it, and then I broke down in his office. He told me, basically, I was dealing with PPD (postpartum depression) I wouldn’t let him speak the word depression, he finally started calling it postpartum anxiety so I would listen to what he had to say.

She found herself on and off medication for the next few years. This past April she stopped taking her medicine again.

A couple weeks/month later I hit the bottom. Hard. I literally could not think straight, make a decision, or go a day without having a meltdown.  I didn’t want to leave the house, I felt terrible, sick, all the time. To make it worse, all the thoughts I’d had previously, came back. The guilt alone was enough to push me over the edge. Looking back, I don’t know why it took me so long to go back to the doctor. I think I was still clinging to the lies, in fact, I’m pretty sure that was it. I started questioning my salvation. I started doubting everything I knew to be true. I hated myself, who I’d become. I felt like a liar and cheat. I hated that people thought me better than I was, who said kind words about me, I actually, to put it nice, wanted to hit,  and yell at them. Those who told me they wish they could be like me, stay at home, do it all, I wanted to take them up on it, but I just smiled and said, thank you.

I applaud her for speaking up about her experience even if it took her so long to do so. Her story will undoubtedly touch women of faith as they too struggle with their own brushes with depression. We are just human, even if God is on our side. He is there to lean on in the hard times, and will always be there when we need Him most. And ladies? HIS opinion is the only one that matters. He will always love us. Always.

Now go read the whole piece over at Raising Little Women: The “D” Word.

 

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Is Happiness really a choice?


During my first bout with Postpartum OCD, I could not begin to count how many times I got the lecture “Happiness is a choice” from my husband. But that was then and this is now. We have both come a long way in our sensitivity towards the very real condition of Depression, both of us having struggled with it in our own way.

If happiness truly is a choice, then why are so many of us struggling with depression? I mean, really, who chooses to be depressed? I sure didn’t. My husband didn’t. It just happened. Not overnight, mind you, but it happened. The thing with depression is that you don’t feel yourself fading away. As a Casting Crowns song states, it’s a “slow fade” as you fall away from happiness. Such a slow fade sometimes it’s not caught until it’s too late.

I don’t like the intimations of happiness being a choice. Call me jaded if you want but I just don’t like the idea of someone telling a depressed mom that she made the “choice” to be depressed. Yeah, right. I CHOSE to have horrific thoughts about harming my children. I CHOSE to slide so far down my pole that I landed in a psych ward. Yeap, that’s me. Choosing to be horrifically clinically depressed with OCD thrown in just for kicks. Why? Cuz I like it there. I like it in the dark, all alone, milling over thoughts of how to hurt my kids, thinking that everyone is out to get me.

C’MON.

I hated it there. Abhorred is an even better word. Emphatically detested the place, actually.

But now that I’ve graduated to Survivor, I have a very unique insight into the subjectiveness of this very phrase.

I didn’t choose to become a sufferer of Postpartum OCD. Nope, that part kinda bit me in the ass all on it’s own.

However, I CHOSE to become a survivor.

Like David gathering rocks to throw at Goliath, I turned and sought for my own rocks to place in my bag as I stood strong in the face of the Giant.

My rocks were strength, faith, and endurance. I needed all of them to carry me through. I found strength in stories of other survivors who had gone on to become tremendous advocates for other women and were now reaching their hands out to me as I struggled mightily to stay afloat. I found faith in God’s word and actions. Through my journey with PP OCD, I realized I had not strayed as far from Him as I thought. The wandering path behind me suddenly became clear as I moved forward. Everything, even the traumatic events that had once rocked my world, became illuminating lights that allowed me to develop endurance. I had been through several family deaths as a child, having lost an aunt at just 5 years old. It was through these losses that God prepared me for the road ahead. I knew I could strap on those boots and turn and fight.

Let me tell you something here. There is no feeling more empowering in the entire world than victory over your own personal demons, whatever they may be… mental illness, cancer, heart disease, etc. Those of us who choose to stand and fight know the taste of victory and it infuses into all we do from that point forward. We know we are not immune to the challenges of life. We just know how we’ll handle them no matter what they may be.

The biggest lesson I learned through all of this? Life isn’t about what it hands you. It’s about how you handle life. Looking at life through that lens would make it seem that happiness is a choice and to a certain extent it is a choice.

But sometimes life throws a screwball you just can’t avoid. So what are you to do? You have two choices. You can either let it knock you flat on your ass and stay there for awhile…..Or you can pick yourself up, dust off the dirt and mend the wounds, and go on your way.

What are YOU going to do?

Results of the Great Return


I survived the day.

There were only tears as I made THE turn. They hit me out of the blue and after blubbering for a few minutes, I was fine. The rush of emotions was really quite unexpected. I had no idea how I would react once we got there. I worried the tears wouldn’t stop and I wouldn’t be able to go in with Charlotte but they subsided rather quickly as I forced myself to breathe and Chris reminded me we weren’t going to see her in the NICU.

Overall the appointment itself went well. Her plastic surgeon was very pleased with how well her jaw was growing on it’s own and didn’t seem to think surgery was going to be a necessity unless deemed so by Speech.

Guess what?

Speech said she needs surgery. Her palate is split in the back and he also wants a naso-pharyngeal flap done as well to help her not push air through her nose when it should be going through her mouth.

We go back next week for a session in their speech lab so they can teach me some things to do with her at home to help train her vocal track to do the right things.

We knew surgery was a very real possibility and as I said earlier, we’ve discussed it with her. The doctor’s office will be phoning us to talk scheduling once they get it cleared with insurance so we wait.

I’ll update here once we know more.

In the meantime, continue to pray for strength, guidance, and patience.

The Great Return


Tomorrow we go to Atlanta with Charlotte for follow up with the Cleft Palate Clinic.

I would be lying if I said I was not nervous.

This appointment was supposed to have taken place when she was nine months old.

She’ll be three years old next month.

Charlotte in the NICU

Charlotte in the NICU

It took me this long to get to the point where I could even think about facing the hospital where she spent her first 21 days of life without having an anxiety attack.

This is the same hospital in which I tucked myself into a corner of the sleep room in the NICU area, blasted Linkin Park over the MP3 player and checked out. No desire to come back. Just wanted to stay curled up under the blanket and pretend none of this was happening. Nope. Not to me. I didn’t have a baby in the NICU. She wasn’t downstairs having major jaw surgery at just nine days old. We weren’t doing this. I was stuck in the middle of a really bad dream and I’d wake up at home with a normal baby.

I can still see that hallway, that sleep room, my nostrils fill with the scent of the surgical soap that killed my hands as I washed them every time we went into the NICU, every time i pumped, every time I went to the restroom there.

I remember the pumping rooms in which I spent most of my time staring at the clock wishing I could nurse my daughter instead of shoving my breasts into hard cold flanges, flicking a switch on a massive antique pump, adjusting the suction to just below Holy Crap that Friggin Hurts.

But tomorrow is the day we finally go back.

Chris is going with me as a safety. I don’t know how I will handle this. I’m hoping for the best. Praying for the best. I keep thinking about how far we’ve come since then and how lucky we are that we don’t have a lot of the problems a lot of parents have with their Pierre Robin kids. She’s talking, using sentences nonetheless. She’s breathing on her own. She eats – oh lord, she eats – she’d eat herself sick (and has) if we let her. No oral aversions here.

But she does have a fistula – an opening in her palate repair. It’s at the back of the throat. And her enunciation is off – it’s nasal. She can’t say “s” without blowing air through her nose. Chris and I understand maybe 75 – 80% of what she says and it breaks our hearts that we can’t even understand our own child all the time. It’s led to frustration on both sides and is now turning into a discipline issue.

I’m afraid we’ll be told she needs surgery. I’m afraid of what that will mean for us and for her. I’ve talked with her about the possibility of surgery. She knows that they would give her some medicine to help her go to sleep and fix her mouth while she was asleep. That she might be owwwy when she wakes up and that they’d have medicine ready to help with the owwwy.

She seems cool with it.

I’m not.

I have forgotten how to let her go with the doctors – I got so good at it when she was in the NICU but she’s been all ours for almost three years now. I don’t want to hand her over to be taken to surgery. I want to go with her! That’s my baby you’re taking!

But now I’m thinking too much and need to stop and let God do all this worrying for me.

Please pray for us as we face tomorrow.

Pray for a peaceful heart and soul for me.

Pray for a pain-free and comfortable day for Chris as he goes with us.

Pray for a positive evaluation.

Pray that I am able to handle any news of surgery with strength and grace and truly give it to God.

Choices


Laundry or laughter with the kids.

Dishes or cuddling.

Caring for a sick child or posting at my blog.

Sometimes choices are easy to make. And sometimes they’re not.

Choices are really what make up the fabric of life. The small decisions we make every second of every day are what comprise how that day rolls out. But what determines the mood of the day is how we deal with the decisions we make. We even have a choice there – we can be frustrated with the decisions we make, we can be ok with them, or we can be outrageously thrilled with these decisions.

For me, the hardest decisions to make are the ones that I am just OK with. If I’m just OK am I really making the right decision? I will argue with myself that if I tip the scale this way, I’ll be pissed. But if I tip it that way I’ll be happy. Or will I? When I get this way I make myself stop. I bow my head and pray to God. I give the decision to him and stop worrying about the outcome. Choosing to live my life and enjoying each and every moment while letting God do my worrying is infinitely more important than anything else in the entire world. It’s taken me a long long time to get here but now that I am here, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I have a tough decision in front of me. It involves an amazing opportunity I feel honored to have been approached with but that I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for right now. It deserves careful thought and detailed attention. Do I want to add more to my plate or do I need to keep my plate where it is now? You know what? I’m giving it to God. I know He’ll make the right choice and I will have to be happy about His decision. He’s done a great job so far and if this door is one that I am supposed to walk through, He’ll let me know, in His time.