I am a little bit of a mess after I give birth. I’m not ashamed to admit that, in addition to the normal fluctuation of hormones and the weepy mess of “it’s all too beautiful” as I stare at my newborn, I also have a history of Postpartum Depression (PPD). Having felt the despair multiple times, I am wiser for it; now I know how my body works, can read the signs, and know how to combat the creeping hole before it swallows me up in the weeks after I welcome a new baby.
But still, every time, I am vulnerable. I am laid bare, emotionally. I am raw.
I have to stay on my guard–vigilant–or I’ll find myself peering down anxiety-riddled rabbit holes that, in other seasons, wouldn’t give me pause. But with my normal barometer slightly askew, everything has the potential to crawl under my skin and haunt me.
Every news article warning of this hazard or that. Every crisis averted. Every sniffle that might explode into RSV. Heck, the other day I read a friend’s blog and stumbled on a post where she lightheartedly described her Babywise-inspired nursing routine with her newborn by quipping that he wasn’t born into an AP home. There was nothing negative about the comment, nothing snide. And yet I found myself suddenly wondering if my own on-demand nursing, babywearing, gentle parenting practices (which have produced healthy children and young adults so far) were really healthy choices or would later contribute to some disastrous situation or another. It took everything in me to remember: we parent as we do because of a conviction from God to show our children the same kind of shepherding love He has shown us.
See how easily I could fall?
The biggest gift I can give myself in the weeks following the birth of a new little one, I have learned, is grace. Grace to feel what I feel. Grace to admit that my struggle is real. Grace to acknowledge the good and the bad. Grace to be just who I am.
I am blessed to have a husband who treats me tenderly in this season, who goes out of his way to build me up, to encourage me, and to help me regain perspective. I am blessed to live in a time when meds are available, when society understands the chemistry of the postpartum body, when depression isn’t ignored. But most of all, I am blessed to know that God created me, and He is not disappointed when I admit my floundering. Rather, He is glorified in my willingness to turn to Him for strength in my weakness.