"My Journey Through Postpartum" -By Rachael M.

Good morning, everyone!

Today’s post is a very special one.  I know many mothers have experienced the whirlwind of emotions that comes with giving birth to a little one.  More and more parents are starting to open up about the struggles that postpartum can bring, and with that comes great healing for everyone. 

I started my motherhood journey during my third trimester last summer, with a group of girls from my church that were walking through the same journey.  There were about 8 of us in the group, and all of us were anxiously waiting for the day that God would bring our child into the world.  As the weeks progressed, we watched each woman in our group transform into a mother.  Most of us were first time moms, so we had no idea what was in store.  This group saved me in so many ways.  This group kept my head up in the darkest of times, and they helped me keep my faith strong through the exhaustion, confusion and intense devotion/overly protective feelings I felt following my daughter’s birth. We still meet every week, and it is incredible to see how far we have come on this journey together!

Today I want to introduce to you a mama friend, Rachael, from the very group I mentioned above.  Like so many mothers, she has been experiencing an unexpectedly tough journey that has led her to write the very words you will read below. Her story is truly inspiring. She has been relying on God’s promise that He is faithful and His plan is perfect. If you have ever had a really hard day, week or entire season of motherhood, let these words encourage you.  Also, if you say you’ve never had a hard day of motherhood… then your child must have zero teeth and an uncanny ability to never need food or a nap  :)

Here is Rachael’s story…

My Journey Through Postpartum

Postpartum. Depression. Anxiety. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Illnesses no mom wants to experience. This has been my story.

Our son, Dixon, was born on Tuesday, August 9th, 2016. He was perfect. Labor and delivery was the easy part. I was induced due to low amniotic fluid, and he came in less than an hour after my water broke. 7 pounds 10 ounces. 20 inches tall. Perfect. An answered prayer. God’s protection and blessing was so vividly evident. The “worst was over” or so I thought…

We were still in the hospital, and an intrusive thought flew through my mind. Confusion, fear, guilt, and shame are just a few of the emotions that followed. I quickly examined my emotions, but there was a disconnect I could not understand. My intrusive thought did not align with my feelings. I was not feeling depressed or anxious. More confusion. My mind began to race with questions. “Where did this thought come from? Why did I think that about my son? He wasn’t even crying; is something wrong with me? The questions kept churning; I couldn’t let it go despite numerous attempts to hand it over to God. My spirit was disturbed. A few hours later, I told my husband, Nolen. No judgment was made; only grace was given (thank God for my husband). 

This was only the beginning of one of the darkest seasons of my life. The feelings came, along with a bombarding of intrusive thoughts and images. Thoughts and images only a few people know about. The high expectations of “all things mom” were stripped from me. I didn’t feel joy. I didn’t feel connection. I felt like a failure. This wasn’t what I wanted. Add colic, acid reflux, ear infections, a not so great job, dysautonomia, etc. to the mix, and it was a recipe for disaster. I was drowning, and my heart was breaking.

Let’s fast forward a little. Our son was screaming, and my husband was still at work. Like every mom, I went into action. Hungry? Nope. Dirty diaper? Nope. Tired? Nope. Nothing was working, and the thoughts, images, and feelings were pounding. I needed my Father. I grabbed the iPad and turned on Hillsong’s, “Baby Lullaby.” It’s an hour of piano worship songs (highly recommend). As I began to rock my son, I cried out to The Lord in prayer. He answered me. The lullaby randomly switched to a different lullaby, “Be Still and Know” from Scripture Lullabies. “Be still my soul. Be still and know that He is God. Rest quietly. Rest in His loving arms. He is watching over you. Ever Faithful. Every true. So, be still my soul. Be still and know that He is God.”

A glimpse of God’s goodness. A promise! An instruction…a HARD instruction (Psalm 46:10). Be still. You see, I have been trying to conquer this verse for years now. Every year, “stillness” is a spiritual goal of mine (God knows I stink at it). Maybe this was the valley He had to take me through to learn stillness though? Either way, I now had a piece of hope to cling to in those dark moments. Did He promise me healing in that moment? No, but he brought me up for air just for a moment. I took the biggest “gulp” of His goodness I could. Was I doing a good job at being still? Not so much, but let’s keep going.

A few months later, God’s healing promise came through a friend. He gave her a vision of green grass growing over my head. Once my head was covered, white flowers began to sprout and bloom. Along with that vision came Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” More hope; another breath of fresh air. He sees. He knows. He cares. A promise of healing! YES! He is good.

The only hang up? The promise was spoken, but I couldn’t see (or feel) His healing. A true testing of my faith. TOUGH, but 2 Timothy 13 says, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Thank you, Lord, for a promise I can attach to your promise! Since then, I have had to constantly remind myself that the drought is going to come to an end, just like it did for Elijah in 2 Kings. There is a cloud! Isaiah 55:11 reads, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Another promise I can attach – healing is coming!

A few more months. It’s Memorial Day weekend; the first weekend I got a glimpse of “myself”. The heavy feelings felt lighter, and the intrusive thoughts and images weren’t bombarding me. Another step toward healing. I finally felt His healing hand at work; the world (literally) looked brighter that weekend. The fulfillment of His promise around the corner. I am in the 7th lap around the “walls of Jericho”! Thank you, Lord!

My son is 10 months old now, and I can confidently say “the worst is over”. Is there still more healing to take place? Yes, absolutely. My mind and emotions have been at war. I need rest, more time to heal, and grace upon grace. You see? This is another step: sharing a small part of my story. God has never failed me. He has been lifting me from the muck and the mire, and He continues to lift me (Psalm 40:2). Do I understand why God has allowed me to walk through this season? No, but I also know nothing is wasted (Romans 8:28). Have I deeply grieved over my experience? Yes, and I am still grieving.  There is much to come to peace with and much stillness needed.

But, God has carried me (He carries me every day). I have had family, friends, and the church warring for me at the feet of Jesus (they still are). Grateful is an understand. Those closest to me have seen me at my absolute worst. My husband has been a constant strength for me. He has not judged me once. Grace upon grace was the response. I was (and am) so undeserving. I could list so many people…you know who you are. Thank you!

I realized this morning that buried within the word testimony is the word TEST. I believe my test is now turning into my testimony! So, do you see it? God. Prayer. Healing. This has also been my story. I give Him all the praise, honor, and glory!

If you are in a heavy season, it is my prayer you truly know how much God loves you. You can come to Him as you are. God alone is enough. Keep trusting. Your healing is coming!

 If you’re struggling through worry, exhaustion, or fear… stay strong!  Lean into the TRUTH of the Lord.  The enemy desires to take away all that is good and given to us from the our Savior. 

Don’t let him. 

God has won, and He promises GOOD for those that love Him!

Thank you, Rachael, for sharing your story with us!