I Prayed for Her, Not For Postpartum Depression

I Prayed for Her, Not For Postpartum Depression

It was in high school when I started having dreams of a blonde little girl. These dreams lasted throughout college and even into meeting my now husband. It wasn't until I had a dream as vivid as if I was watching it on a movie screen-- my husband leaning over to kiss me on the head while I held a blonde newborn baby girl, him saying, "I love you AvaGrace". I remember shooting straight up in bed, waking him up, and writing the name down. 

AvaGrace. This would be her name. The thing is, I wasn't even pregnant at this point, nor were we even trying. But I am a huge believer in "God works in mysterious ways" and I knew in my soul my prayers of having a daughter would one day be answered. 

It was only a few months after that dream that I dreamt that I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I remember waking up and thinking nervously, "Okay God, is this you telling me now is the time?". I took a test. It was positive. 

Girl, when I tell you I had been waiting for this day. I had an entire announcement gift box for my husband packed and ready to be gifted, hidden in my craft closet. 

For those of you who don't know me, to give some context-- my husband is blonde hair, blue eyes, and our daughter... is his twin. My blonde little girl. Since getting pregnant I have not had dreams of that little girl anymore. Because I now have her in my arms. 

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You see, as amazing as it is to be a mother, to have God hear you and answer your prayers, sometimes unexpected challenges come along the way that can test your faith. Your faith in God and even faith in yourself. 

After a traumatic birth experience, for myself and my husband (that's a story for another blog post) I felt absolutely crippled within my mental health. To be honest with you, I anticipated dealing with some postpartum depression. I already suffered with depression. Sprinkling the word *postpartum* in front of it can't change it that much. Right? 

Wrong. Dead wrong.

Actually it was way way worse. And no one seems to mention to you that "postpartum depression" is NOT the only postpartum mental health disorder women can face. 

Here I was feeling alone, scared, broken, exhausted, overwhelmed, etc. and had zero idea when these feelings would "go away". I had intense fear of something happening to me or my baby. I never would let anyone else be with her if I wasn't around. I never took a break. I was 25/8 momming it but... I was struggling inside more than I ever let on. 

I was 4 months postpartum when I was medically deemed unfit to return back to my school social work job due to my mental health state. Postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum insomnia, postpartum PTSD, my new labels... I remember the doctor telling me, "if you had the Flu you wouldn't go back to work; this is no different". 

But then why did it feel different. Why did it feel quiet. Why did it feel hidden. Why did it feel shameful. 

Although I felt "relief" by staying home with my daughter, I felt like I failed myself and my students by not returning. To add to the feeling of failure, I was "highly encouraged" to partake in IOP (intensive outpatient therapy). 

10 hours a week of therapy. Not to mention medication trials after medication trials. All with my baby on my hip or on my breast (oh yeah, fun fact- she refused the bottle. All feedings on me. All of the time). Did I mention the no break earlier? 

I did all I could to "get better". I wanted to get better for my daughter, my husband, myself. But healing from my postpartum diagnoses felt like trying to climb up a hill covered in ice. 

I prayed for my daughter. I prayed to become a mother. Every single day I feel blessed beyond measure to call her mine.

I did not pray for the postpartum diagnoses. I did not pray to feel at war with the voices I was hearing and what they would tell me to do and what I knew I didn't want to do. I never prayed to feel so scared to be alone with myself to the point that I would sob at the window watching as a family member or friend's car drove away. I did not pray for unknowing, for breakage in myself, my spirit, and my faith. I lost hope. I lost hope that I would get better. I anticipated my marriage ending because who would want to be with someone so ruined. I feared disappointing my daughter. I prayed for a sign. I needed more help and didn't know what to do. 

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My daughter was 2 weeks shy of her first birthday when I carried her into the church that has now become a huge part of my life. With an anxious heart and sweaty palms, I stepped foot into that building. The worship music flooded my body. I swear the song selection was decided just for me. Every single song, although never have heard before, hit home. The tears just poured. 

It was in that moment, during that service, that I prayed for healing. I recommitted my life to Christ and prayed that He would bring restoration to my mental health. 

Postpartum mental health diagnoses are a journey with no end clear end time. There are days I still struggle. But if there is anything I could say to that new mom who was so lost and broken, I would tell her-- God will bring you out of this, don't give up. 

I said it earlier that I believe God works in mysterious ways and as much as I don't understand all of it, I think part of my journey in postpartum was his way to bring me back to church. I have gained friends, support, restored faith, and an openness to continuing our family (a thought before that scared the life out of me). I have experienced dreams of a "sissy" with AvaGrace fully present in these dreams. 

Sometimes the things we pray for come with unexpected additions. Sometimes these additions are further blessings. Sometimes they are challenges, that leave you questioning a lot. And sometimes the things we pray for take time to be answered. 

When I pray with my daughter at night, we always end each prayer with the verse "We know with You all things are possible". 

I will continue to grow. I will continue to heal. I will continue to share my story. I will continue to support other mothers, especially those in the battle. Postpartum has not been my favorite chapter. Definitely not one I want to read again. But it is just that, a chapter. Postpartum diagnoses are not my whole story. 

Time to keep on writing. xoxo

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