Grace Above Perfection :: My Postpartum Journey

11:26:00 AM

I feel like I need to preface this post by saying I am not a medical professional. This is simply my journey. If you are feeling depressed or having trouble after having a baby please consult with your doctor or tell someone close to you. You are not alone and you do not have to go through this alone.

After 4 months of (pretty much) sleepless nights and going hard with 3 kiddos and work and just life, postpartum depression (PPD) hit me like a ton of bricks! I felt on edge, depressed, anxious and was not giving my family the best of me. I felt frustrated most of the time and just all in all like a failure at the brink of what seemed like a mental break down every single day. It was getting hard to be strong and hold it together for everyone all of the time.

I remember saying a lot, "I just can't..." or "I'm just tired..." of whatever it was I was facing at the time. Toddler temper tantrums seemed defeating. Daily tasks seemed overwhelming. I basically felt like I was just coasting through life on autopilot. I didn't notice it at the time, but I heard something recently on a Podcast that I listen to, that when we are on autopilot it is the place where evil tends to creep in. BAM! That's where I was! I was on autopilot and Satan had me totally convinced that I was not good enough and that I was not capable of handling my children or my schedule.

This is when I needed to hear TRUTH. In the midst of having all of these feelings, it never crossed my mind that I could be experiencing postpartum depression...It wasn't until after I was sharing some of my struggles with a friend did she out of love and concern suggest that maybe I was experiencing a little PPD.

I think most people assume you have it all figured out by 4 months. I don't know if I am just weird, but I actually found the beginning of postpartum to be easier to handle, almost like the honeymoon phase. And then 6-8 weeks in was when everything felt like it was starting to build up. By this time, 4 months in, I was back full force at work as well as other commitments, which left me feeling burned out and stretched so thin I felt like I would break at any moment. And that is before you count in not getting a decent night's sleep since before baby was even born. We had gotten into a good groove as a family of 5, but every day took just about all I had out of me. By 7:30 when the kids went to bed, I was toast.

My body, physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally was depleted, but I was still needed. 3 little humans as well as their daddy count on me. Count on me to keep up with the house work and put dinner on the table and just be a positive light for them. I have to tell you, my husband is an amazing father and partner and he helps so so much around here, but when he doesn't get home from work until 5:30-6:30pm its pretty hard for him to make dinner or do much else besides help with bedtime I like to have dinner ready when he gets home so that we can have those last final hours of the day spent together. But again, it is a LOT! Honestly, the pressure to do everything was only what I put on myself. This was the first lesson I had to learn to beat my PPD. I CAN'T DO IT ALL! At least not well...I feel like I learn this lesson over and over again at different seasons in my life. Maybe one day it will sink in.

Okay, I would love to tell you, BAM! Everything was fixed with a single come to Jesus moment about grace. Unfortunately, I told myself this over and over... and things would be good for a couple of days, but then that overwhelmed, anxious feeling would creep back in. 

It was through the most unconventional circumstance that I felt God used to help shake my funk. My husband was preparing to leave for a men's retreat where he was going to be gone for 5 days....FIVE. That literally sounded like an eternity to me and I had no clue how I was going to do everything and take care of 3 kids by myself for FIVE days. Sounds silly, but I was more than a little stressed at the thought of this task.

I sat and prayed. For strength. For patience. For peace as I took on the task of being single mama for the next few the way, if you are a full time single mom, you are literally my HERO!! I don't know how you do it.

We made it through day 1. Whew. Day 2 was looking a little brighter. By day 3 of that week I was putting the kids to bed (again, 3 children all different ages, all going to bed pretty much at the same time. I still don't know how I managed.) when I had this moment where it felt like the weight of the world was just lifted off my shoulders. I was praying ALL week for strength and stamina and assurance that I was a good mom. I know truth and I know that God has equipped me to be these kids' mama, but most days I felt like I was failing. Somehow through taking away my husband (my crutch) for a week, God made me lean on HIM. I was anxious and frustrated that my husband would be gone, off having fun with a bunch of guys, but by the end of this week, I felt at peace and free. I felt lighter and more capable of doing this mom thing than I had ever felt before.

Fast-forward 2 months to now. I still struggle with feeling inadequate and I still lose my cool from time to time, but I don't feel that weight hanging over me. In light of this journey as a mother of three, today I am choosing JOY. I am choosing PEACE. I am choosing GRACE. Today I may let the kids stay a little later at Summer camp. Watch a show so I can prepare dinner. The laundry may pile a little higher before actually making it to the washer. And the house may not look perfectly spic and span every moment of every day. Let's face it, we are so much better at giving others grace than we are to ourselves...not sure why that is, but today I am extending it to myself. There are 3 little humans that need ME. That need me to be strong and stable. To show them LOVE. And to be a steady for them in this topsy turvy world. This chapter of life is short (although it feels never ending). So I will press on taking one day at a time giving each day my best. Not only for my family, but for me.

Today I am leaning into the TRUTH that God speaks to me instead of the lies that Satan and the world spread. The truth that:

"I am fearfully and wonderfully made.." (Psalm 139:14)

I am "God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for (me) to do." (Ephesians 2:10)

The truth that I never am doing this parenting thing alone or of my own strength. That I have the creator of the Universe upholding me and always available for wisdom + comfort. And that He has totally equipped me for the task ahead. I was made for MY kids and they were made for ME. My journey is my own and no one else's. Your journey is yours. Embrace where you are today and find peace knowing that you are not alone. You are stronger than you know and when you feel like your strength is failing, fall into the arms of your creator. "He will never leave you nor forsake you..." (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Rest in that today.

To any other mama out there who has struggled or is struggling, you are not alone. Hang in there. You are amazing + a superhero in the eyes of your kiddos. You are stronger than you think and God has blessed you with those beautiful babies. He will give you the strength to get through so lean on Him. 

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