How Can This Be Bittersweet?
The birth of a child should really be one of the happiest days of your life, but the day my daughter was born was one of the saddest. She was ripped from my body while I was under general anesthesia and hours later was transferred to a hospital an hour away while I was left to heal. She then spent 12 days in the NICU where it was determined that she had brain damage that occurred about a week prior to her birth. My whole world was falling down around me.
The following is the story of my birth experience with my first delivery, and while every birth should be celebrated and a joyous occasion, I found my experience to be very bittersweet.
Leading Up To Her Birth
But even leading up to the birth of my daughter, things weren’t quite right. On top of her impending birth, we knew we would have to move because of my husband’s PCS (Army), but our house wouldn’t sell. The hardest part for me during this time was knowing that September 1st we were moving, and my due date was August 24th. Also, things were tense in our marriage at the time. My husband is not a man who is sensitive. He’s a manly man and if you can’t communicate with him like a man, then he really doesn’t communicate well. (It’s taken years, but we’re better at this now.)
Praying For The Wrong Thing
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I’m setting the stage so what I’m about to say makes a little bit of sense. Two days before my water broke, and I gave birth to Jacqueline I remember actually praying to God and asking that He would just take me and “the baby”. This is a difficult thing to share, but I think it’s important. How could I want God to take something as precious as life from me? I was terribly depressed even then. Now I never thought of ways to end my life, but I did pray that God would take my life. I hurt deeply and didn’t know how to make it stop. My depression continued for over a year after Jacqueline was born. It was constant overwhelm.
Dealing With A Traumatic Birth Experience
After her delivery I was overwhelmed by the pain that I felt after such a traumatic delivery. (I’ve recently learned that they are much rougher with you when it is an emergency c-section so those who have them tend to have a lot more pain. That’s why I could NEVER understand an elective c-section.) I was overwhelmed by my child being in critical condition and not having a clue as to what the outcome would be, lack of sleep and constant movement from home to hospital to eat to etc., and trying to help pack a house,the people trying to contact me at that time trying to find out how Jacqueline was doing (I didn’t want to talk to ANYONE! I’m not sure if that’s normal or not, but it was my experience). And finally, I was overwhelmed once we arrived to our new home with the unpacking and not having any family or friends yet to help me though we had terribly sweet neighbors who were always willing to help us.
Post Partum Depression (PPD)
After Jacqueline was born, all I wanted to do was live and help her live. I couldn’t imagine not being here on this earth or her not being here for me to take care of. But there were days I didn’t take a shower or bath. There were days I didn’t get out of the bed until after 11:00 a.m. I nursed Jacqueline and changed her when she needed to be changed so I thought I was ok with the post partum depression thing since I loved her and was able to take good care of her and didn’t want to do any harm to her.(All those things are on the list of signs for PPD.) I didn’t focus at all on myself. Most of the first few months are a blur for me.
Living In Denial Of Having A Child With Special Needs
Then it came time for miles stones. The first one she got to and missed was crawling. I thought maybe she was just going to be a late crawler. Some kids are. But denial can be a strong thing. I was in complete denial that there was anything wrong with my child. I’m so ashamed to say this, but it wasn’t until her one year check up with the neurologist that he handed me the number to call and said, “She needs Early Intervention. Call this number.” He had told me before, but I really didn’t want to believe there was anything wrong with my child. I thought, if I don’t acknowledge this it’s not really happening…but it was. Then we started therapy, and my world became consumed with therapy and Jacqueline’s schedule for that.
Realization Of Depression
I remember around seven months we went on a vacation back to Savannah. That was when I realized that I might be depressed. For a few days, I felt somewhat normal. It never occurred to me to talk to someone about this. I was ashamed and it made me sad. I had my bestie, but she lived so far away and these aren’t the kind of conversations you have via phone. So I took it to God.
What I Learned
It didn’t “solve” the problem, but God does understand all our problems. He created us, and for those who know Jesus as their savior we have an intimate relationship with Him. No one knows us like God does. I read scriptures and poured my heart out to God daily. Just because I renewed my relationship with Christ didn’t mean that my problems were solved, it just meant I had an outlet and someone to love me when no one else in the whole world could understand my aching heart. God has been good to me.
Why Do I Share?
So why do I share this with you? We all go through difficult times. Every one of us. I can’t remember the statistic, but I think it was 3 out of every 4 people deal with depression in their lives. Depression, and post partum depression, in particular, is REAL! Do not take it lightly. Baby blues, and adjusting to your new life are totally normal and most women experience this, but some experience an even deeper depression. Find someone who cares. I care!!
Take Aways And Testimony
Know you’re not alone. Know that it will get better. Life is precious and a wonderful gift from God. Embrace it and love it. Look back and see God’s provision and hand in your life. I can tell you every year on Jacqueline’s birthday we make a huge deal out of it. I never could have imagined sharing my experience with thousands of people when I was going through this trial, but now I’m able to share with other women and show them they are not alone.
P.S. My birth experiences since then have been very different. During my pregnancy with Joseph, I decided I was going to get in shape. I can’t tell you how much being active and fit changed my pregnancy and post partum period. If you’d like to know more about what I’ve done, sign up for a FREE account today and make me your coach. I’m here to support and help you!