There I was, sitting in the waiting room at my OBGYNs office, having just checked in for my 6 week post partum follow up. I knew that I would be physically examined, which was terrifying (see my last post). Thankfully, I had a dear friend tell me that I would most likely also be emotionally examined, if you will.
I was nervous about the physical exam, but I was undecided about the emotional exam. You see, they would only ever know as much as I told them, and when I arrived at the office I wasn’t quite sure how much I was willing to disclose about my emotional state.
Two weeks prior (I believe it was a Sunday night), I had gone to bed anxious. My muscles were tight, I couldn’t even close my eyes to try and sleep, and tears were near the surface. It felt like all I had done lately was cry and I was sick of it. I think my dear husband learned quickly to ask if I was crying tears of joy or sad tears, because both were reoccurring. On this night I tried so hard to hold in the tears. I was already exhausted from crying and I didn’t want to bother my husband who had to go into work the next morning. It felt like I was lying there for hours, clenching my teeth in deep sadness and anger. Finally I got up and went to the couch where I felt I could cry without bothering anyone. Eventually my husband noticed I was missing and found me curled up in the fetal position on the couch.
By this time, not only was I tired, sad and angry, but I was scared. I was scared because I realized that I had been so anxious and angry that I wanted to hurt myself. Even writing that now feels so vulnerable. I was clenching my teeth and digging my nails into my palms because, well….actually, I can’t think of any good “reason.”
Except for postpartum hormones. And those are a very real reason. I didn’t have crippling depression or an extraordinarily difficult recovery and I was always able to take care of our son. But man, those weeks after giving birth were a struggle. They were filled with joy and love I didn’t know as possible, and I need you to know that. But there were also days that were harder than I imagined. And I need you to know that as well. I write this not for pity, but so that you know you are not alone. In these moments of despair the devil tells us we should be ashamed of our feelings and hide them in the darkest corner of our heart. Please don’t.
That night on the couch I knew that I was in a bad place and it took all my courage to tell Nathan about how I was feeling. And that was the first thing I think I did right. He graciously listened and loved me well. The second thing I did, that I would also encourage you to do, was tell my obgyn my honest thoughts and feelings. I talked to a counselor that day at my 6 week checkup and she also checked up on me at my next appointment. It was humbling and healing to tell someone else about my struggle.
If you have gone through a similar experience, or worse, please do not be ashamed. If you are in the midst of the hard, please share your heart with a friend or family member or find a support group. Moms need to be loved too!