HOLLY MACKLE | CONTRIBUTOR
At five months postpartum my dearest college friends came to visit and love on our new daughter. We were chatting at a Starbucks when some men wearing sidearms calmly walked in. Within seconds I had our group outside crouched behind the bushes, poised to dial 911, entirely certain there was about to be a massacre and we were to be the only survivors. (Turns out militiamen just like Starbucks, too.) Postpartum depression has many faces—sadness, anger, disconnect, swings between despondency and rage—but mine showed up as fear. Irrational, unrelenting, all-consuming fear which forced me to cling to Jesus in a way I never had before.
Not every mama experiences postpartum depression. (Thank the Lord, or how would we get from one generation to the next?) But as I’ve been open about my experiences, it’s been clear many new mamas do have one thing in common: the complete over-turning of life as they knew it. How do you react to that? What do you cling to on the dark days?
Engaging Motherhood and Disengaging the Fear Monster
Our study, Engaging Motherhood: Heart Preparation for a Holy Calling is a place for moms of young children to connect and beat back loneliness, to be reminded of truth when lies scream so loudly, and to be assured that we are enough because he is enough. It seeks to prepare mamas for the days when sin flares up, expectations go unmet, relationships are strained, or the line between the rational and the irrational goes to blur. Done individually or in a group setting, we hope women will be steadied and encouraged by the experiences of seven mothers who have gone down this road before.
The following is an excerpt from the study—a day’s reflection on the only thing that will remain solid in your new upside down life.
A Night Out
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62: 5-8 (ESV)
You glance in the mirror at the deep-purple wrap dress and wonder at how it really doesn’t look so bad. Combined with the eye makeup and the hair that seems almost relieved to be styled for the first time in two weeks, you think you really don’t look quite so bad at all. Your husband yells from the kitchen that the babysitter is here, and you tell him you’ll just pump real fast and be out in twenty minutes, ready to go. You hook yourself up to the monstrosity of the modern milk machine and pray that it will buy you at least three hours of pain-free, leak-free, uninterrupted date night. You finish in record time, slip into the black pumps with barely an audible squawk of pain, grab your tiny—not a diaper bag—clutch off the bed and open the door, ready for a real-life date.
Puke. He’s cleaning puke off his pants. “I’m sure it was just too much on her tummy without a burp,” he says nervously, glancing at the wide-eyed babysitter. The baby looks your way and starts to cry. You drop your clutch and go to reach for her out of the babysitter’s hesitant grip, and just as you get her into your hands, it happens again. Thankfully not on your dress, but not so thankfully, on the carpet. The baby is now wailing, the babysitter looks like she is planning the quickest escape route, and you can’t decide who you will join.
Ah, the joys of motherhood. But it’s one thing to take the ups and downs yourself, and a whole different thing when they begin to affect the relationship you hold most dearly in all the world. Your body will be different, your conversations will be about poop, your free time will evaporate, your sex drive may seem like a mystical unicorn you once believed in, and it will really only be a matter of weeks before you wonder the same old thing that countless couples before you have wondered: “How did we ever think we were busy before?”
Where is God in all of this? How could this possibly be his plan when he says all his plans are good? Why do I feel so discontent when all I wanted for so long was a baby? Will my marriage ever go back to normal?
Wait in silence. Trust in Him. Pour out your heart before Him. He is a rock, refuge, salvation, and stronghold. He holds your salvation and your glory. God alone is your refuge.
To get your own copy of Engaging Motherhood, click here.