I am typing this with my darling little girl asleep next to me with her hands sweetly and gracefully balled up next to her face, one holding her chin. She has a content look on her face and every now and then a smile spreads under her button nose. She is a miracle. She is everything that is right with this world. She is God’s message of hope and abundant affection. She is my beloved and anticipated Raychel Joye whom I have adored since long before I was a mother, a wife, a fiance or a girlfriend. She is my daughter.
I wanted to write this for a few reasons. One being that I am a writer at heart and it would be strange for me not to record it somewhere. Another being that I know I am not alone and I want others to know that they are also not alone. I was not prepared for the “Baby Blues” and I think that if I had read others’ accounts and gotten an idea of what might happen it would have been helpful. The most significant reason however is to brag a little about my God. :)
To start, let me say that the first 5 days or so after the birth were absolutely euphoric. I felt so incredibly in love. It was as though the world had stopped moving and all that was left functioning had to do with Raychel. The purpose for the birds chirping, the sun rising, people laughing was all for her. And us: our new little family. I thank God for those days and for the natural high he allowed us to have while we bonded. I will cherish that time in the deepest recesses of my heart for eternity.
Then one night she was very fussy (I think it was some cabbage I ate – oops!) and I’m not sure if that is what did it, if it was purely the hormonal drop* or if many factors were at play, but I woke up with a much different state of mind. Suddenly I was disconnected and just sad. I didn’t want to smile or laugh, I felt a darkness that I could not shake for the life of me. I was scared that it would last forever, that I would never feel the love I had felt just one day prior. I didn’t know how to get back there and I so desperately wanted to go back. I had this feeling of overwhelming loss for that closeness.
It was like a switch. It was so sudden and so drastic that it shocked my whole system – my body, my spirit and my mind. In my weakness arose severe insecurities, mostly ones I have struggled with before. I was afraid not only that I wouldn’t take care of her correctly, but that I would end up hurting her. I felt so unsure about my role and my ability to carry it out. I believe in spiritual battle and I have no doubt that I was in one then. It scared the crap out of me, frankly. But the Lord was battle-ready. Not only did I have my mom there, but over the last year He has set us up with an entire community of believers. He even brought Tim and Tessa to the duplex just a month before RJ came. Not to mention Beth who knew the tough questions to ask and what to look for. And of course my amazing husband who has always been with me during these times to speak truth into the storm.
Because of the community God formed around me, I talked. I didn’t keep all my thoughts and feelings inside which is my natural tendency (probably something we all struggle with to some extent, I imagine). I shared my lowest lows and to my great surprise, was not judged, but loved. My community prayed for me, my friends embraced me, my mom assured me that she experienced all the things I was experiencing…. I was so surrounded by Christ’s love that even though it was dark in my mind, I wasn’t in the dark. Everywhere I looked I saw the Light of the world. Our friend Tom once described confession as a gift… He said that it wasn’t meant to be a burden, but a load-lifter. We get to confess to one another and be healed. It’s the truth! What a tremendous gift that the things which have in the past caused me to sink into my self, to be spiritually and even practically ineffective do not have the power they once did because I now have people with whom I can share my insecurities and fears. In the past I would have spent at least 6 months in a depression trying to overcome my emotions, wrestling fears and guilt, , but I really cannot afford to do that now. I have a child totally dependent on me for food, security, comfort and attention. Even though I did not know to prepare, God prepared for me.
I do not expect to be “over” the weird new-mom feelings and insecurities. The fact that I am responsible for another human’s well being is a daunting reality. I am okay with having down days. I’m going to be patient with my emotions while they try to process this huge shift in my paradigm and I’m going to appreciate the highs that much more. But I am not going to be alone and as often as I can I will remember that my Lord, to whom I owe nothing less than my life and from whom I can demand nothing, has answered my prayers for a family and has once again turned ashes into beauty.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Genesis 50:20)
*There are known periods within the first few weeks and months postpartum where a woman’s hormone levels drop drastically; since she produced more hormones in that short 9 months than she will the entire rest of her life, this can cause significant changes to her mind and body.