My Year with Postpartum Depression

I never expected this part of motherhood.

In the months it took leading up to my sweet daughter’s birth, I imagined so many scenarios. I imagined what she would like, how her voice would sound, how much she would weigh. Before that, I wondered who she would be – boy or girl. I had thought up so.many.names. I was excited! Terrified of all the responsibility motherhood would bring, but so excited. What a beautiful opportunity, an awesome opportunity, God was giving me. I was a mother. Even before she was here, I was changed. I had a child, living and growing inside of me, and I was so ready to meet her. Even more so as the “morning” sickness kicked into high gear (and lasted 21 weeks) and the acid reflux became so unbearable I couldn’t sleep. I could not wait until I could hold my sweet baby in my arms.

And then it happened.

She was born and I was holding her in my arms. That moment feels so very vivid and yet, like a blur. Those first few hours and moments and days were so much. They’re very clear, for the most part, but really they still feel like one big, long, exhausting day. I lost a lot of blood and I was very, very weak when I got home. I was so sore and…miserable. Why was I miserable??

I have always been very in touch with my feelings and thoughts. I am highly rational, and that is something that I feel has saved me in this last year. While many said that it’s common to have “blues” just after the baby is born, I knew that this wasn’t that. This wasn’t just blues. I was miserable. I was verge-of-panic-attack miserable. I didn’t want to hold my baby. And, when I would realize that, I would go deeper into this misery because, what mom doesn’t want to hold her precious, newborn baby?? Everyone, everyone was telling me how blessed and lucky and wonderful and amazing and exciting this was supposed to be. Everyone was warning me how quickly it would pass…how little time they’re really that tiny…and I was overwhelmed. Completely overcome with guilt and misery because I didn’t want any part of it.

It was just a few days after going home from the hospital that we ended up having to call my doctor’s emergency line and make an appointment. When we met with her that day, I was a wreck. I was shaking. Sobbing. Terrified. My rational side was still there, knowing this wasn’t normal, yet still able to “get there” in my mind about why you hear those stories about moms who kill their babies. What a terrifying thought, huh? That’s when I knew. This isn’t blues. This is worse. This is much, much worse.

So that’s how I came to this postpartum depression diagnosis. Now, it’s been over year, and I’m still very much in the midst of this trying time. Only now, I feel like I can talk about it. I can tell you I’m going through it without having a mental breakdown after telling you. That’s not to say mental breakdowns aren’t still a thing around here (remember two weeks ago, Robert?). But I’m getting there. I’m learning triggers and, most of all, I’m learning to let go of a lot of the guilt that has kept me deep in the trenches of this depression.

I imagined so many scenarios of motherhood, but I never, for one second, thought of being a PPD mom. It’s been awful. I have tried to get past it, to mask it, to move on from it. Sometimes, I can will myself to interact with others better than other times. Sometimes, I can go days or weeks seeming “fine” to most people, even to Robert. But mostly, I’m still a mess. A mess wrapped up in the goodness of God, embraced by His great love and faithfulness.

There have been moments of resentment. More than moments, really. Why did I have to go through this? Why didn’t I get to enjoy those first few days and weeks of motherhood? Why is it so hard do function normally? Why can’t I do all the things I used to, without having panic attacks? Why am I so angry all the time? But instead of continuing to question God, I have begun to praise Him. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do. Because this difficult journey I’m walking is, I’m just sure of it, another means of ministry. At least, maybe it can be. Or will be. It is my prayer that I will allow God to use my life and circumstances to glorify Him. After all, His “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

So why tell you all of this? Mostly to explain why this website is going to be different. If you’re an avid follower of all things emilyhat (hi, Mom!), you’ll know that I haven’t posted regularly in a long time. It’s because I couldn’t. I wasn’t the same Emily who started this website, and really, I’m still not. I don’t know when or if she’ll come back. But, I am the Emily who is walking through a dark valley, but being led by God’s gracious hand. That’s probably going to translate into different types of posts. Maybe more intimate, vulnerable posts like this one. But, that’s where we are right now, and hopefully, that’s where I can be the most use in His kingdom right now.

Having postpartum depression has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. But, in all things, God is faithful. I am so thankful He has delivered me to this point and I am ready and willing to be used to glorify Him.

Here am I, send me.

*If you have questions about PPD, or you are struggling with it yourself, please reach out! You can email me at emily@emilyhat.com*

14 comments

  1. You are a great mom, wife, and Christian woman. While dark valleys may make us feel less of who we are, they are also shaping who we will become. Your openness with your struggles is courageous and commendable. I’m thankful for your focus and strong will. Anna and I are so blessed to have you! A & F!

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  2. You are so loved❤️! This is a difficult topic and hard for some to understand if you haven’t been there. Just be yourself! Regardless. Don’t pretend. Let friends know when it’s a bad day (and family). The best Emily you are each day is who God loves.unconditionally!

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  3. Dear Emily, thanks so much for sharing. There are many Christians ladies out there who suffer from depression and all of them haven’t had babies. Depression is so hard for others to understand. It is just not something for which one can give a simple definition. There are those who I love dearly that suffer and mostly quietly. I would encourage you and other sisters to reach out to each other. Only others who suffer from this same dark, confusing malady can understand those who are also suffering. May heart goes out to you for your bravery! Two of my favorite verses are ones that comfort me when I need the reminder that this is something I can handle (even when I don’t know how) are Ephesians 3:20 and 1 Corinthians 10:13. These verse teach us that the LORD totally understands and that He will be there even when we may feel deserted. Just knowing that it is happening does not always help us know how to stop it or how to change things or how to find the answers we need. There are some essential oils that Also one other verse that I hold onto is Isaiah 61:3. It is a prophecy about Christians and the last part reads: “that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. ” Isn’t it wonderful how the LORD makes no mistakes- when He plants you, you are a TREE of Righteousness! -WOW – and no matter our circumstances we can glorify His name! I am so thankful for your sweet heart and your desire to do His will and your willingness to trust Him! Please know that I am adding you to my prayer list and I will be following you on line so I can watch you grow in the LORD no matter your circumstances! Remember the LORD told Paul ‘no’ when he asked for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. Then the scriptures reads: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. “

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  4. So appreciative of your openness and you’re right…. even though some trials are harder (IE: terrible, debilitating depression) we are told that these trials in life are what will help us to persevere. They will help us to help other Christians when they are struggling in the same! I hope you find comfort in the fact that this does give an opportunity for a different kind of ministry. Praying for you, friend!

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  5. I really appreciate your sharing this because the worst part of depression is feeling like your the only one.
    I remember the days I had no patience. Very irritable. I can remember when my husband would come home work I was resentful toward him because he was “free”. Not stuck at home. All the while knowing I was doing exactly what I wanted to doand couldn’t love my babies more,but unhappy all at the same time.
    Thank heaven for loving husbands and supportive family and friends. God is good

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  6. Just tackling what the next day holds, whatever that may be, is bravery and faithfulness. I commend you on getting help early on! I am sure that has made a positive difference in your healing journey from PPD. While I definitely had the baby blues after my first-born, I did not suffer from PPD, but my sister-in-law did for a while. She had already been dealing with severe anxiety so she also was able to get some help. You are not alone in the suffering of it. I vividly remember the anxiousness I would experience over lots of little things in the first year of my son’s life. I too mourned that I did not get to enjoy him as much as I had hoped I would in those early days. 3 years later we welcomed our second daughter and I waited with anxiousness to see if I would experience and/or feel the same things as the first time. Thankfully our second child slept more regularly and I was more prepared mentally for the newborn phase and I enjoyed my days with her as a baby so much more. Praying for you to continue to heal and get better and love your outlook on life.

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  7. We are proud of you EMILY for being such a good wife & mother to our sweet little Anna & Robert. You are a strong person & we will continue to pray for you. We love you!

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  8. Thanks for sharing Emily! You are a courageous example. So many of us have been there. You are not alone. Satan gets a stronger hold when we isolate ourselves or imagine that we are alone in our struggles. Talking about it is a HUGE step in the right direction. God is SO GOOD! May he continue to bless you in your ministry!

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  9. Emily, keep the course…. you are a SUPERMOM as well as a FINE YOUNG LADY. You are doing all the right things…. don’t be concerned what others think…. we are behind you and love you.

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  10. Wow. Thank you, Emily, for your honesty and openness. This is so valuable for anyone who is “walking through a dark valley, but being led by God’s gracious hand.” I will pray that there’s more and more light in the valley every day, and that you always know your hand is in God’s hand. <3

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  11. Hi Emily, I am just a guy who stumbled across your post because my wife left it pulled up. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your struggle as it is sure to inspire others to step out of their dark place and seek comfort and help when they need it. I can relate in several different ways as my wife experienced some PPD after the birth of our child and I have also suffered through different periods of anxiety and minor depression recently. Earlier this year, my anxiety started to take over my life and I suffered from panic attacks as well. Some where I could not physically stand because my legs were shaking so hard…kind of attacks. So I went searching for help. Being a sole-income provider I could not afford to be disabled by my anxiety. I worked with multiple counselors until I found the right one which helped some in the beginning, but then I discovered my break-through which was acupuncture! After just two sessions in my first week I was off my prescription which I was taking 3 times a day. After 4 sessions I felt 90% better. I am not totally better, but feel much more balanced in my body and mind to communicate with God, my wife, and my counselor to sort through the things which cause me stress and anxiety to begin with. Christians consider childbirth to be a “miracle” and a “blessing” which as you explained just makes matters worse because your physical body doesn’t feel this way and thus you feel guilt which worsens anxiety and depression. Many other mothers also experience tremendous guilt because no one tells them that childbirth in many cases is considered a trauma for their body! I would say your birth would definitely qualify as you described it as a trauma! One that totally wrecked your nervous system not allowing your brain to send the signals as God designed it to. Getting my body back to a place where it could once again heal itself was all I was looking for; to get my body back to a place where it could heal itself and I have found that. I hope you continue to do the same! I hope this helps someone out there…

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  12. Brenda Dougherty
    August 15, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks for posting this, Emily. I have someone close to me who went through this as well, and I’m happy to say it turned out fine. It sure sounds like you had some physical misery in pregnancy, then the loss of blood in childbirth, too. And the hormones are really a part of it all as well. You are such a personable, competent person, and I commend you for going to the doctor about this and for sharing this experience. I have a dear friend right now who is battling ovarian cancer and, while her husband and us friends are a good support to her, the most helpful things she hears are from others who have been through the same thing. I feel sure there will be women you help by having experienced this yourself and being selfless enough to take the time to share it. You are a wonderful wife and mother from everything I see and a wonderful servant of God. Keep fighting the good fight. It is overwhelming and somewhat unpredictable when we have a new little one, but you are doing a good job.

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