We are honored to feature a Guest Post this month, honestly and beautifully written by Lisa Jensen of Woodstock, IL. Lisa is a loving mother of three children, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister. She is also a sufferer of Postpartum Depression, and has gracefully opened up about her struggles and healing.
“The darkness is complete." I wrote that seven times in my journal just a few months after my third child was born. Depression and I have had a relationship for over a decade so we are not strangers but until that day, on which I wrote those words, I had never known the sadness to be so powerful, so suffocating, so hopeless.
My baby boy came into the world in one of the most stressful fashions, an emergency c-section. He was breech and his heart rate had spiked to a dangerous level. After a few hours at the hospital for observation and testing it was determined that he needed to be born as soon as possible. On a Tuesday, I had gone to the hospital for routine testing and didn't leave until Saturday. In that time, I had a beautiful baby boy taken from my body and I endured pain and fear like I had never known. I left him at the hospital for three more days and then I was able to bring him home to complete our family of five.
Just like with his older brother and sister, my heart exploded when I saw him for the first time. He was sick and needed intensive care but he was mine and I knew him and he knew me and we were connected long before I held him in my arms. I never imagined needing a c-section. I had two vaginal births and was ready to prove that I could push my third baby out in record time. I looked forward to the birth. The labor and delivery and even the pain that precedes the most unbelievable joy. When I was told I needed a c-section, I wanted to stop time. I wanted to help my baby move out of his breech position. I realized it was not about what I wanted and absolutely about what he needed. One day, while feeding him in the NICU, I was visited by a Psychologist who informed me that women who experience c-sections, especially emergency c-sections, are more prone to Postpartum Depression than woman who deliver their babies vaginally. I was intrigued by this and grateful for her time and words that served as a warning for me.
When my little guy was two months old, and I started to feel better physically after the c-section, I started to endure a different pain; a pain in my heart, my mind and my soul. A darkness I later realized was indeed Postpartum Depression. Day by day, the darkness seemed to grow taller, consuming my body and mind until there was no light to guide me to places of love or joy. I could not remember the names of my dearest friends. I could not move through my house without feeling like everything was out of place and my whole body ached. I remember sitting at my desk in my room, crying so hard and so loudly that my husband checked on me a dozen times and begged me to respond to his questions. "What can I do?" "Do you plan on hurting yourself?" "Do I need to call someone?" I continuously just shook my head "No." I had hoped that I would fall asleep and the darkness would just carry me away somewhere. I knew I did not want to die but I wanted to disappear. After crying and journaling for a while I finally did fall asleep and I woke up in the morning knowing I needed help.
I called my doctor and got in to see her right away. After a few weeks of treatment and counseling I started to feel the light again. I started to see it in my sweet little girl's eyes and in her older brother's smile. I could look at my brand new baby and see how miraculous his life was and how precious his little fingers looked wrapped around one of mine. I started to come back from a place of pain and into a world of possibility.
Postpartum Depression almost consumed me. It told me that I was not good enough or strong enough to handle motherhood. It tried to rob me of the joy and magic that was my new baby. Postpartum Depression told me that I was alone and no one else in the world could understand my sadness. People who loved me asked, “But why can’t you be happy?” They followed that question with “You just had a baby and that should give you enough reason to be happy.” This Depression was not about choice or an inability to love, it was about me. Me needing time to adjust as a person with a soul and dreams and to adjust to being a mother of three. My body and mind needed to adjust to the reality of a small, precious being whom I carried from the time his life began, vacating my body and leaving me with my heart much bigger and much more vulnerable. Postpartum Depression is one of my most memorable teachers. I will never forget the pain and I will never forget the darkness and I am grateful every day that I did not let it win.
Written by Lisa Jensen