My sister in law, Edith, came over to the house three weeks after I gave birth. She arrived with groceries and smiles. She lived an hour from me and wore her scrubs since she was heading to work right after her visit.
"What else do you need help with?" she asked me.
"Nothing. Thank you so much Edith," I replied.
All of sudden my eyes got watery and I just had to cry. I cried every day. Edith was the first person to see me cry for no reason. Thank goodness it was her, because she understood why. I didn't.
I told her I felt sad almost all the time. I wanted to cry for no reason. There was a reason, but I didn't want to say it out loud.
I had heard and read a little bit about Postpartum Depresson while I was pregnant. I never cared to learn more about it because I've always been a happy person and everything was going to be perfect. Surely I didn't have to worry about becoming depressed after having the best blessing ever given to me.
But Edith said, "Postpartum is real."
A light turned on in my head because that was definitely something I was feeling. I didn't know I was dealing with depression until she brought it up. I'm dealing with Postpartum Depression.
For some reason, that made me feel better. Before Edith came over, I felt like a horrible mom. I wasn't happy, I wasn't producing enough breast milk for my son, I had him prematurely, I gave birth via c-section, and my husband was thousands of miles away. I felt like a failure at something I wanted to be so great at- something I thought I would be great at. This whole motherhood experience was the complete opposite of what I thought it would be like.
I did some research to help me understand what I was going through and according to the National Institute For Healthcare Management Foundation, 10 to 20 percent of women experience depression within the first year after birth.
This told me that I had something scientifically wrong me. It wasn't really me. It was a chemical imbalance occuring in my body because of birth. So, I'm not a terrible person. I'm not a mom who isn't happy to have a handsome son. I'm just not all chemically balanced yet. That's the way I saw it.
I can't tell my doctors. They'll just want to give me medicine. I don't want to take antidepressants.
Over these past couple of years, I've become skeptical of doctors. I truly believe there's a natural way to conquer illnesses and that's the way I want to conquer every challenge in my life. I don't want to take a pill that temporarily makes me feel better, but causes another side effect. I just want to feel better.
I didn't want to tell my husband either. He was in Kuwait and I didn't want him worrying about me. Sometimes when we'd FaceTime, I'd keep it together. But a lot of times, I'd cry. I'm pretty sure he knew something was going on with me, but I didn't want to tell him I was depressed.
I knew I had to talk to someone about what I was going through. I didn't want to tell my mom. I had a feeling she would say something I didn't like.
I spoke to other moms.
It's crazy how becoming a mom enters you into this whole new sisterhood. I had two friends from church visit me and I trusted them enough to tell them I was feeling sad but getting through it.
"Yes. The thing moms don't like to talk about," one of them said.
That made me feel so much better! So it is true. Other moms do experience this. I'm not alone and crazy.
I had to talk about it. Talking about it to different moms made me feel better.
Two months after giving birth, I decided to go back to work. I knew staying home was not what I needed to feel better. A part of me wanted to stay home with my son, but I wanted to feel happier. I wanted to truly enjoy my time with my son.
My mother in law came to live with me and take care of Xipher when I was at work. I didn't tell her what I was going through. I probably should have so she could understand why I wasn't always in a good mood. I just didn't want her to tell my husband or anybody else.
When I returned to work at an elementary school, all the teachers were smiling and welcoming. My students were so happy to see me again. I was excited and grateful to see everyone, as well.
Some teachers would say, "Oh,I bet you wish you could be home with your son."
I felt bad thinking, No, I'm glad to be at work. I felt comfortable sharing my honest answer with some teachers and they understood. They knew how hard it is to be home alone with your new baby all day.
"It's depressing," some would say.
Yes! I'm glad you said that! I had to get out.
I was so excited once my son turned two months old. He was ready to get his first set of shots. That meant, we could go to church.
I missed attending Grace Christian Center in Killeen, Tx. They were my family. I couldn't wait to praise the Lord and thank Him in His house for such a handsome son. I needed to hear His word. I just knew once I could hear His word, I'd start to heal.
Xipher loved church. He'd watch the lights dance around the building as the choir sang. He's always been so alert. Then, he'd fall asleep on my chest as Pastor Mark spoke. Everybody smiled at Xipher as they passed by. They'd tell me how cute he is. The children would always say hi to him and me and smile. I loved it.
Attending church reminded me of how grateful I should be. It reminded me of all my blessings that God has given me. I was slowly healing.
The Turning Point
Five months after giving birth, I was feeling better. I wasn't myself yet, but I was finding ways to deal with my emotions. I kept reminding myself of all the blessings I received. I spoke about my feelings and did everything I knew that would make me happy. Then I received amazing news from husband.
He was going to have an interview to be a General's Aid and if he gets the position he'll be home in two weeks. What??!! I was ecstatic!
I prayed and prayed. I just knew he would get the position. After he told me that, I was happy! I was happy, I was happy, I was happy!!
He came home two weeks later and we had to prepare for a move to Kentucky. I was so excited for this new journey of ours. I was ready to be a full-time stay at home mom.
Six months after birth I was on a plane with Xipher headed to Kentucky. Our first month in Kentucky was not ideal. It was stressful. We waited a whole month for our belongings.
We began our stay in a hotel with our two dogs. They peed and the hotel smelled horrible. We got the keys to our home and Antuan, Xipher and I slept on an air mattress for a couple of weeks until we found out our belongings wouldn't arrive till another three weeks. We went back to the hotel but this time left the dogs at the house.
The first week in Kentucky, Antuan did something that made my heart ache. I was hurting bad.
I tried acting happy, but everyday I woke up with a thick dark cloud that blocked my vision from the light. Even when I'd go on walks with Xipher on a sunny day while Antuan was working, it was cloudy.
This experience in Kentucky was nothing like I expected. I wanted to go back to Texas. I wanted to go to my parents' house with Xipher and just get away. I wanted to be happy again.
I wanted so bad to get over what Antuan had done. I wanted to forgive him and move on. But something was stopping me. I couldn't let go and every night and every day I cried.
One night I decided to let Antuan know the truth.
"Eversince I had Xipher, I haven't been the same. I've been sad. I've been depressed. And I hadn't felt happy till I found out you were coming home. Now, we're all together as a family, and you do this. I can't seem to get over it. I feel so insecure and down every day," I confessed.
After speaking to my husband and being completely vulnerable, I knew I couldn't keep crying. I needed to be happy. Xipher needed his real mom. I needed her! Antuan needed her. My family needed her.
I knew that it wasn't like me to hold onto something for so long.
I turned to God. I prayed and prayed. I read the Bible off the Bible App by YouVersion on my phone. The Bible App has reading plans that I read to get through my days and guide me to happiness through God.
Forgiveness began to fill my heart.
One day, I woke up in my bed in my house and the clouds were gone. They've stayed away. Even when it rains the light still shines.
Sometimes I wonder if I should've told a doctor what I was feeling. Maybe they would've done something else if I had rejected medicine. Maybe they would've assigned a therapist for me to talk to.
But in my heart, I knew the only thing that could get me through this was God. He listens to me and tells me what to do. He told me to start journaling and I did. I've never kept a diary. I've always shared my feelings with others, which is why I decided to write this blog.
Writing about my feelings and my days have been extremely beneficial. Its an oportunity to reflect on my actions, behavior and thoughts. It's a time to make sense of everything I'm going through as a new mom. And most importantly, its a time I thank God for my blessings.