I had just delivered my third baby girl, and our family was complete. We were finding our groove as a family of five, which even included getting into a workout routine and working part-time from home. This was going to work; this was our best life.
Within just a month of fully diving into our new normal, the gift showed up. Shocked doesn’t begin to describe the emotion that penetrated every part of my being. I fought with the Giver of the gift for weeks. I genuinely wanted the Giver to take it back. It was a mistake! You’ve got the wrong address! I screamed, I sobbed, I panicked! I wouldn’t accept another gift like this. I gave into fear as well as disappointment.
Weeks flew by and everyone around me noticed the gift I had been given. It’s one of the most valuable things a person can receive and, likewise, the most celebrated. The smiles, the giggles, the good wishes, the well-meaning nay-sayers whose faces revealed their own shock but didn’t dare say a negative word regarding this gift. Inwardly, I was crumbling, but to express it was to curse the Giver and the gift which would be intolerable. So I kept quiet through my aching.
I almost lost the gift once. Only seven weeks after receiving it, I almost lost it. Through the devastation of thinking it was gone, I could somewhat empathize with others who had lost their precious gifts prematurely. Knowing the gift was still safely in my possession should have created more awe and appreciation. Temporarily, it did. But 9 months later, when it was finally time to unwrap it, emotions erupted again. Why me? I knew so many people who would do anything for a chance to live in this moment, and I could not stop wishing it away.
Exhausted, I held it in the middle of the night as tears streamed down my face. I wanted to pretend like it wasn’t mine and fondly wondered about what life would be like without it. In the next breath, I shamed myself for the lack of joy I felt.
The battle between my heart and my head was fierce. My mind spread lies about how the gift had ruined things and reminded me of how incapable I was of caring for it. My heart craved the genuine excitement I should have felt. It longed to value the gift. My body screamed in pain as it tried to piece back together until I finally broke and couldn’t contain my secret any longer.
I knew I needed help, but admitting it humbled me lower than I had ever been. In hopes that freedom was on the horizon, I exposed the postpartum depression for what it was. Simply saying the words out loud was as relieving as it was humiliating. However, the moment I released it was the moment that freedom began. Letting God and others in gave me an out.
Through months of Scriptures, conversations, emotional breakdowns, and laughter, the dimness fully lifted and joy reigned again. The gift I didn’t want became the gift I couldn’t live without, and hope was alive. My breakthrough came but only by speaking up. It’s so important for us mamas (and papas) to be vulnerable about our reality even if it isn’t the picture perfect life we would rather portray.
What I learned through the process of a surprise fourth pregnancy and emotions I couldn’t explain is that I am not strong enough. Fear can overwhelm me. Disappointment can depress me. Pain can break me. Thankfully, I don’t rely on me. I learned to release my grip on the things I held closely so that God could hold them for me. My family, my health, my future, my finances, my capacity, and my joy are all contingent on my willingness to hold on to my Father.
Now, I can fully celebrate the gift and the Giver who knew that He could trust me with a fourth little human to love even when I didn’t trust Him. I am thankful for a husband who never let me go and a tribe who offered an oasis in the midst of a storm.
If you are dealing with any feelings of postpartum depression (or any depression), reach out! Cry out to God and let Him take over. Cry out to your tribe or even cry out to me. Your situation is only fatal if you try to handle it alone. I pray that you find the courage to be vulnerable today so that you can find joy again!
Featured Image by Jenna Norman