House For Six

Friendship & Baby Blues: When Postpartum Depression Comes Knocking

Deme Crinion15 Comments


I'm not sure how to describe the last couple weeks.  I wrote that post on the not so glamorous newborn days and then it was like someone with a maniacal laugh turned the dial up a few more notches.  Colic baby with an ear-splitting scream that wants to be held all day, day after day, about sums it up.

I hit my low; my breaking point; my I'm-going-to-hop-on-the-back-of-a-yellow-school-bus-that-comes-down-our-street-for-a-freedom-flight-unless-something-gives point.

We were in a car accident a few weeks ago (just Livy and I).  Thankfully no one was hurt, but our van has been in the shop for repairs and we've been clawing our way through the frigid days of winter at home without any form of escape.  Which is partially OK because Livy was screaming so much I was hesitant to go out in public with her anyway.  Would she fall asleep in her car seat and actually take a long overdue nap?  Or would she rage at the straps holding her in the entire time?  I never knew.  

After weeks of build-up I felt bombarded with thoughts of "what have we done?"  "It was so much easier before she was here..."  "Did we make a mistake?"  "I don't think I can do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore".

And I hated myself for thinking that way, because I know that she is an absolute gift.  A completely wonderful gift and I was wishing for things to go back the way they were or to zoom forward so I could what....finish a cup of coffee? take a shower in peace?  have some personal space? Get some things done? Get anything done?

Oh those postpartum hormones.  

It is perfectly normal to have those thoughts and frustrations  I knew it in my head but in my utterly exhausted state (mentally, physically and emotionally), I felt desperate.

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" Gal 5:14

I'm not good at asking for help. I'm guessing you're not either.  Because women are like that.  People are like that.  We're generally eager to help a friend in need, but when it comes to reaching out for ourselves it somehow feels selfish and weak.  So, I guess it speaks to my desperation that I finally emailed two dear friends asking for their prayers over me and Livy. 

And boy did God answer.  He took that one simple act.....of humbly admitting that I was not doing well...and his flood gates of grace flung wide.

Their encouraging texts and prayers (along with a sob-sesh with my mom on the phone and my husband who already knew how much I was struggling) carried me through that afternoon.  And every time I paced the hall with my screaming baby I took their intentions to prayer to help focus my heart off of my bleeding eardrums.

The next morning my friend called to say she wanted to bring over coffee and donuts.   

But the house?!   the screaming baby?!  my lack of showering?! 

But her request to stop by was less of a request and more of an "I'm coming so make sure the door's unlocked".  By some miracle of miracles I had dressed before I got the baby up that morning, but told her my kids were still clad in pajamas.  So, she brought over her kids in pj's too.

Not only did she bring her kids over to play and give my boys a fun morning with friends, and bring me a cup of happiness from outside the walls of my house, and come bearing donuts just because.....she also brought everything to make us dinner.  When she left for home a couple hours later I had BBQ chicken cooking away in the crock pot, freshly baked cornbread cooling on my stovetop, and veggies ready to pop in the microwave at dinner time. #saint

"bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 6:2

Here's the thing guys - she's right in the middle of her own trying season.  Her husband is working some intense hours for a couple months and she's doing a lot of solo parenting with her three young kids.  I should be making HER a meal.

But friendship doesn't work so black and white..so even-steven..so I'm worse off than you.  In fact, helping me, ended up helping her too.  Her kids got out of the house to play with friends, we got to catch up over coffee (soul balm every time), and soon half the day had passed with both of us feeling a bit renewed in our solidarity.  Although I definitely made out like a bandit with the meal.

This is community.  This is how we help carry each others burdens.  We actually let each other know we have them.  We let each other into the middle of the mess and don't wait until we start to get things under control first.  It is not weakness to admit that you are struggling and that things are hard.  Many good things are really, really hard.

I didn't want to let my friends know I was struggling, knowing they have enough going on in their own lives.  But that's not the way we were created to handle adversity.  So, when we attempt to suck it up buttercup and trudge along in our isolated misery, it usually doesn't yield a great result (resentment, anger, despair anyone?).

James and I both have incredibly giving parents.  Whenever we try to reject their generosity my parents have responded many times, "don't rob us of the joy in blessing you".  In a similar way I think we can do that in our friendships.  When we hold back from each other, even with good intentions not to inconvenience someone else, we can rob each other of the joy and privilege of praying for one another...of serving each other....of being a vehicle of grace.  And even of blessing them.  Because that's the kind of God we have - one who can take a single burden shared and turn it into a blessing for two. It's some kind of crazy Holy Spirit math ;)

The worst part of that baby stress peak was how guilty I felt for my thoughts and my inability to control them.  But as a friend gently reminded me, we can not condemn ourselves for the ways we respond in our humanity to the muck.  They simply remind us of our need for a Savior and how much we need each other.


*I'm not a health care professional, nor an expert on postpartum depression, but I have experienced the baby blues to varying degrees after each of my children.  There's no shame in letting your loved ones know you're struggling, especially if you're experiencing postpartum depression/baby blues symptoms that last for more than two weeks, are getting worse, make it hard for you to care for your baby, make it hard to complete daily tasks, and/or include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.  Not getting help isn't "suffering well "or being stoic. That's the time to allow community (and good doctors!) to help you.  If you aren't sure what you're experiencing, you can read more on PPD here and give your OB a ring.

**Livy seemed to turn a corner a few days ago...so, in turn I have too.   Its the only way I was able to finish writing this post :)

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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