I wasn’t sure if I would ever post this.
But here I am.
I can still remember the month that the lights began to fade. I laughed a little less, worried a bit more, and most days dreaded the early morning wake up call. At the time I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I just knew that I didn’t feel like myself.
I began grasping for excuses…I just had a baby, motherhood will take an adjustment to get used to, if only she would sleep…and from there the feelings of inadequacy and discontentment began to grow.
This was right around the time Elizabeth was 3 months old. End of September. Life became overwhelming. Every little decision when it came to Elizabeth seemed to send me into a spiral of fret, certain things had to be done just so or it seemed everything would all fall apart. And along with it, I began to feel down. I just couldn’t shake the doldrums that ushered in with autumn.
On the outside, most didn’t notice a difference. It even took Alex some time to come around. All I remember is going through the motions. I was asked a few times if everything was alright because I didn’t seem myself, but I just rolled it off as lack of sleep. I mean, that was the truth. Everyday was filled with the things that needed to be done. Just enough to get us through. Diapers changed, baby rocked and fed, snippets of sleep, dinner on the table. But in reality, while my arms and legs still managed to keep house and tend to Elizabeth, inside I was drowning. What I noticed the most was that I began doing without feeling. Life became lifeless.
I lost the joy. The awe of looking in the eyes of our daughter, feeling her soft baby skin, it was lost on me. Instead I began to resent her. Frustrated when she wouldn’t sleep, burying my head in the pillow when her sweet voice called out in the early morning light, and finding myself more invested in schedules and time rather than in the little life before me.
Here I was, now a mother, and I was floundering at the task at hand. And I had had 8 years of prior experience running a household with 3 little ones underfoot as a nanny. I knew how to do “mothering” without always engaging. But I never thought that mothering my own would feel so empty and so full of tears. Almost anything would set them off. And frustrated with myself, I began digging deep. Trying to figure out what was going on. Even time in the Word, singing worship, calling out in prayer became lifeless and dull.
One day I had enough. I posted post-its all around our house. And on them were printed the most elementary commands. “Feeling Weary…pray!, Tired…pray!, Need joy…pray!” I thought maybe I could muster up enough faith to rid my heart and mind of the cobwebs. Bring back joy.
And then one morning I found myself sitting before my husband saying “Honey, I think I am depressed.” At first he kind of laughed. And then he saw and knew. And he stated the most obvious of responses, “Honey, maybe you are.” And then I took some time to mull that over in my head. For over a month.
Right after that time, when Elizabeth was 7 months old, my cycle restarted. And I found this post by Joanna Goddard and read it. And then I decided it was time to see my OB.
Going in felt foolish…I was sure it was all in my head. Inside I felt defeated. Tests were run, forms filled out, surveys taken. The next day the verdict was in. Thyroid was fine, blood sugar normal. One thing was off, severely low.
My vitamin D level.
A vitamin D deficiency can mimic the symptoms of postpartum depression. The feelings I felt were very real. The darkness was real. And after one day on massive amounts of Vitamin D, the joy began to flood back in. Darkness slowly fading, cobwebs being swept away.
I had an aha moment: Of course…the times I felt my best were the few months after Elizabeth was born (summer) and our vacation to Florida (sunshine). An answer. To be honest, even if everything would have come back normal and postpartum depression was the source, I would have been relieved to have been honest. To have sought help. By the time she was 7 months all I wanted was to be back to myself.
And even though there was a reason for the darkness, I’m still realizing that it’s going to take awhile to find my rhythm. To find my way of mothering. But at least now, one thing is for certain, the months ahead, while hard and trying, will be filled with hope and joy.
Praying for you mothers out there, walking through the trenches, battling the cobwebs that cloud our hearts and minds, to find joy in the morning.