I’m sitting on the doctor’s table with a cover draped over my legs waiting for the doctor. She comes in and checks my incision from the emergency C-section I had eight weeks prior when I delivered my 9lb 14oz son (yeah, he was big). She tells me everything looks good and asks if I had any questions.
I barely look up to respond. “No, I’m fine.” I just want her to get out so I can get dressed and go back home, but my husband speaks up and says one single word:
With that one word, my world falls apart. I start crying, uncontrollable sobs, barely able to catch my breath kind of crying. What the hell is happening to me? I went from feeling nothing to feeling completely miserable in one second. I want to go back to feeling nothing. The misery is too hard to bear. Then I hear snippets of the doctor’s and my husband’s conversation.
“How long?” she asked.
“…Disinterested,” he said. “… Won’t get out of bed. I don’t know who she is anymore.”
I was no longer part of the conversation. They were talking about me as if I wasn’t there. Because I wasn’t.
####Diagnosis: Postpartum Depression. Treatment: Prozac. I felt like a failure because I didn’t even realize I had gotten to this point. I thought I was functioning extremely well.
In my mind, I was just a little sad. Maybe it was the baby blues. But I was nowhere near sad enough for postpartum depression. I was wrong.
I was so confused, too. This was my second child. It’s supposed to be easier, a piece of cake, especially since I didn’t have any issues with the first. So why now? Come on, God, this happens to other women, not me.
But it did happen to me, and it engulfed my entire identity. I was no longer Kacie Bryant, Mother. I was Postpartum Depression Kacie. When the doctor diagnosed me, she tried telling me that it was normal and treatable. But I kept hearing, “You shouldn’t be a mom. You need meds to be a decent mom. You’re a worthless mom.” I felt so out of control, like I was falling with nothing and no one to catch me.
I started the pills. I thought if I took them I would feel better, more like myself, more like a mom.
Day One of pills: Nothing. Day Two: Nothing. Day Three: Nothing. In my mind, when I started taking Prozac, I thought I would be instantly better, everything would great, rainbows and unicorns everywhere. Oh, how wrong I was. I didn’t realize it would take weeks, not days, to start feeling better.
The doctor also recommended I stop breastfeeding. I’m not going to lie, a little joy crept through for the first time, followed by guilt. I hated breastfeeding. There, I said it, and I’m not sorry for saying it. I know it’s supposed to be the most beautiful, natural thing and what is best for baby, but I didn’t like it. Before you start bashing me, I have many friends and family who breastfed their children, and it was incredible for them. I think it’s wonderful that they loved it, but it just wasn’t for me. I hated that my body didn’t belong to me and that every time the baby cried I had to get up to feed him. I started resenting my baby. What kind of mother was I? The first thing that brought me joy was when I was told I couldn’t breastfeed. Someone take my kids away, I’m a horrible mom.
My marriage was at best two people living in the same house together. My husband Doug just didn’t know what to do. He would try to comfort me, and when that didn’t work, he would yell at me, hoping to get some type of reaction. When that wouldn’t work, he would ignore me. Our sex life was almost nonexistent. When we would have sex, it was mechanical and without feelings. My marriage had become loveless and lifeless, and I didn’t care.
It would be a year before I started feeling like a version of my old self. A year before a natural smile would come across my face instead of a forced one. Let me say that again. It took an entire year. Where was that in the birthing manual? Looking back, I barely remember talking about postpartum depression during birthing classes or discussing it with my doctors. I don’t think it was because the doctors glossed over it, but because I did. I never thought in a million years it would happen to me, so why read up on it? Why take time on something I would never experience? It’s a hard lesson to learn: be ready for anything. Just because you don’t think it will happen to you doesn’t mean it won’t.
I kept up my regimen of taking my medication. I did this for a year. My demeanor definitely improved. I wasn’t crying as much, not sulking in bed or hiding from the world. I was present, but that was it. I was present. I wasn’t sad anymore, but I had no joy. I remember thinking, is this as good as it’s going to get for the rest of my life? I’m just here. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful not to have the feelings of utter despair, but I craved more. That might be selfish of me, but I wanted freaking JOY.
A co-worker of mine invited me to her church numerous times, and I said no just as many times. I didn’t need church; I wasn’t going to find my joy there. After refusing to go to her church service multiple times, she finally asked if I would be interested in going to a woman’s community group. It sounded a little freaky to me. Seriously, who has ever heard of such a thing? Curiosity got the best of me, though, and I went to the group.
I walked into a dark room, sat down at a table with a bunch of strange women, and just waited to see how it was going to help me. I was so defiant. I didn’t really want to be there, but at this point thought why not try something different. Women started speaking, telling real stories of their struggles, real stories of how they felt like failures, or felt abandoned, or felt shame and even struggled with believing in God. It was mind-blowing to me. I had never experienced anything like this before, women being real and honest. Before I knew it, I was talking. Talking about my pain, my struggles, and my doubt that God loved me. There was no judgment, no condemnation, only love and being told over and over again that I’m a daughter of the one true King and he loves me.
This started my journey with God. It would take six years before I finally understood God’s love for me, but that day started my path to find my joy. It was also the day when I started to fight for my marriage. Lesson number two for me was you can’t do it alone. I needed women in my life who would build me up with God’s truth and God’s love. Even when I didn’t believe God was for me, they kept telling me that he was. As I said, it took six years. I’m a slow learner.
Great news, Doug and I have been married for over 15 years and our son is now 12 years old. Time really does fly by. He is an incredible kid. He’s loving, kind-hearted, and a little hard-headed like his father. But the incredible news is that I am his mother, and I now know that I am a great mother.