After having my daughter in 2014 looking back I feel like I may have struggled a bit with postpartum anxiety. I know it wasn’t depression from all the questionnaires I completed in the hospital and my OBGYN had great postpartum appointments and questionnaires regarding postpartum depression. I didn’t ask or speak to anyone regarding my anxiety because 1. I didn’t really know postpartum anxiety was a thing and 2. I’ve always been a more anxious/type A person so I just figured it was that mixed with hormones and deciding to become a stay at home mom. I would have opened up to someone if I had a better understanding of postpartum anxiety, and would encourage anyone to speak up whenever you are feeling or thinking about things that are uncomfortable or different from what you normally feel.
The anxiety I felt was more along the lines of something happening to me or my daughter. Frequently I would think of so many potential bad (and seemingly highly unlikely) things that could happen to us. Cancer seems to run heavily on both sides of our family so I would worry about that; would I know if something was wrong with her or I; how would we cope; make it through, etc… Probably the biggest challenge/thought/worry for me was that I would die and not get to see my daughter grow up and she would not get to have her mother through all of life’s changes and challenges where a girl needs her mom. I would be overwhelmed with these thoughts that would consume a whole day or more. I would get so sad that I would miss out on everything to where I would silently cry my eyes out rocking her at night thinking about it; or at just random points in the day I would just cry. I never wanted to leave her to do anything. I begged my husband to help me figure out how to stay home with her because I couldn’t handle the thought of being away from her. I didn’t want to miss one second to spend with her because I felt that I didn’t know when it would be the last time I would see her.
I didn’t share any of my thoughts with others because at the time I didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling or thinking. I would let the thoughts come to mind and then I would just remind myself that all of the worries I had were highly unlikely to happen and I learned to push them out of my mind for a little bit. I know some moms who are so consumed that they cannot leave their homes. I wasn’t there but I would be anxious leaving.
After I would say 6 months or so I just began wondering ‘why do I feel this way?’ I kept feeling this pull on my heart that I was missing something; like I was longing for something. On the outside I had everything together… my house ran on a fairly regular routine, baby was on a dependable and predictable schedule, my marriage was going well, I was working out…everything seemed to be going well. However, I still just felt like I was missing something. I began reading more, following some mom vloggers on YouTube, and reading blogs and my love of podcasts started during this time. It became very clear there was a theme to everything. One of the words I kept hearing over and over was GRACE. ‘Give yourself grace’ was the phrase of the week for weeks. Of course, I knew the definition of grace, but this time it had a different meaning and I was hooked on it; and I needed this phrase in my life. At the time it seemed so random but now looking back I know exactly who was at work in my heart. So many of the podcasts, books, vloggers, and bloggers I was following heavily had a very strong faith foundation. I didn’t think much about it but as I listened and read I started to find a sense of peace. A lot of my worry about dying seemed to not stress me out so much. As I learned more not only from what I was reading/listening to but also learning about the changes occurring within myself I was feeling so much better and wanted more.
I reached out to a previous co-worker I have kept in touch with and asked her what church she attended. I remembered her faith had been an important part of her life when we worked together so I knew she would be a good person to talk to. Let me back up a bit, I didn’t grow up attending church or having a relationship with Him. I had Bibles and knew of the important people in it but never lived according to the Word. I went to church with some friends here and there and also when we went to my grandparents house in Ohio we would go to my grandma’s church. Anyways, when I reached out to her she was so gracious and supportive (as I knew she would be). She invited me to attend with her and after a few weeks I took her up on that and I went. I was sure that I would feel a like I would stick out like a sore thumb; almost like there would be a marquee sign over my head that read ‘NEW GIRL IN THE BUILDING…FEEL FREE TO STARE’. Boy oh boy was I wrong, everyone was super nice and welcoming but wasn’t paying much attention to me. From the moment the live band started playing I.WAS.HOOKED. So much emotion was happening in me throughout the whole service. When the pastor started to speak I just felt like he was talking to me. The message was so applicable to my life and where I was. I came home and opened a study Bible I’ve had forever but never really opened. And today, I read to listen from the Word every single day! It’s my top priority! I basically just opened up to where the church was studying and preaching about and started there. I found podcasts and so many online resources along with the study Bible to read through it. And at the end of each chapter I have let Him point me to the next area to read and it is amazing how each new part I read it is just exactly what I need to read. He is at work in me and I’m learning to trust in that. My first trip to church was in November 2017 and in January the church kept reminding the congregation that they were doing baptisms. I never witnessed a baptism and was excited to witness one. If I needed proof that God was working within me then January 21, 2018 was the day I received that proof. During the service I felt anxious and just jittery. I had no reason to be feeling that way. Just before the pastor started the baptisms he said (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘I feel that I need to say if there is anyone here that feels that God is telling you to take the public declaration of personal faith in Jesus Christ and believe this is your next step that they are prepared to help you achieve that.’ I got up, walked out in the hall and told those helping out that I wanted to get baptized. I went to church this day not thinking I would get baptized; I had no clue what to even expect at a baptism. When I started talking to them I just started crying as I was overcome with emotion. So on January 21st 2018 I was baptized. Now I know this was not just me doing this but Him in me because if you know me I’m very shy and I don’t just do something I’m not prepared for. I don’t get in front of people to declare anything. I don’t do important things without my parents, my husband, etc. around; yet here I was doing all these things and feeling so much peace in this decision.
Looking all the way back to having my daughter I can see now how God was at work in me before I was even aware of it. Actually, now I understand he was at work when it took my husband and I 3+ years to conceive her. He was preparing to show me what a blessing I was going to receive, He was putting me in a place where we could financially handle me staying at home because he knew I would be anxious and need Him. I have always said becoming a mother is such a blessing and before finding my faith I just thought I was blessed because after struggling to conceive for so long I finally got what I wanted; my baby! But Goodness gracious I was blessed with so much more because my baby girl led me to Him.
I will close this post with quoting from the song Reckless Love. This song has quickly become my favorite because these lyrics I feel depict exactly what He did in my life. Every time I hear it I get the lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
“And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me”