Several of you have asked for an update to this post and this one, and I figured Hadassah Lee’s turning one just might call for one. I’m grateful for you women who have spoken up and made sharing this piece of my story absolutely worth it.
I wept a lot as her birthday neared. I felt a frustration rise up, a sort of indignation, when people asked me why I was sad about my baby turning one. She’s it, y’all. She’s the last. And she’s the first baby I’ve ever looked at with confidence. Staring at her face got me through a lot of hard days and sleepless nights. I can do this. I’m doing this. I’m having a good time doing this.
I haven’t shared a lot of the daily dirt on my postpartum struggles, mostly because it sounds like a lot of defensive babbling. I still stand by my claim that I never suffered from depression. To this day, I haven’t felt anything remotely like hopelessness or despair. I’ve been there before, and I remember what it felt like. But this was different than that. Different from the baby blues, too. This was like, anxiety on steroids. Rage that made me feel other-worldly. Never in my life have I felt so out of control as I did during those long weeks last winter. There was a lot of calm calm BOOM happening. I’d go from folding laundry to slamming a door and screaming into my pillow. I found it difficult to enjoy my family, difficult to enjoy being home at all. I felt like a stranger, like something was wrong with me. Everyone else in my house seemed to know the secret recipe for contentment. Meanwhile, I was running sweaty, panicky laps around the house trying to find it. I saw a counselor a few times, which helped. I gave in to the joy when it overtook me, which helped too.
But what helped even more? I dug in. I didn’t run from it, or smile it away, or convince myself that it would pass. I didn’t even fully understand what it was, but I knew I had to deal with it head-on. There is no muscling our way out of seasons like these. So I quit fighting and I sat down. I dug in.
I dug into the Word. I read verses that spoke of hope and eternal perspective, and the fog began to clear. I dug into my marriage. I reached out to my husband each time I felt myself slipping into a rage. He asked good questions and volunteered sound advice, and the fog began to clear. I dug into my role as a mother, as shaky as it felt. I frenzy-cleaned less and snuggled more, and I tried to celebrate the chaos. I allowed myself to love them with the little oomph I had left, and the fog began to clear.
Things are still hazy around here. I’m not “back to normal” by a long shot. But I’m not sure there is some old version of normal to which I need to aspire. Because those things I listed above? Apparently, they’re all part of what we call healthy living. So maybe it’s time to sit down and dig in, on the regular.