Friday, July 26, 2013

Chosing to have a baby after having post-partum depression

When I started this little blog, it was really just to show furniture. I had a family blog as well, but over time it just became better to merge them.

So part of merging the blog was being pretty honest about the severe post-partum depression I experienced with Rhett. That was the main reason I started refinishing furniture...I needed an outlet. You can read more about it HERE.

I've debated for the past few months on writing this post. Like I said above, this blog is part family, part design/furniture/DIY. But I get a lot of  emails about my experience with PPD, especially in the past 2 weeks for some reason, that I thought this post might help someone, somewhere. PPD is kind of a taboo subject. Having a baby should be the biggest joy of your life. At least that's what everyone says. So when they hand your child for the first time and all you want to do is give him back because you feel so much dread and panic and anxiety, who do you tell? Umm...excuse me, but I kind of hate this baby for some reason I can't understand...

I remember feeling so posed and terrified taking this picture. After we took it I ran to the bathroom and threw up.
When Rhett was born, I became a person I didn't know. In any sense. I couldn't be in the house with him alone. I couldn't touch him. I had horrible thoughts. I had panic attacks multiple times a day and the only way to help them was to throw up. Don't ask. So because I was throwing up every thing I ate, which sending me to the hospital because I lost almost 30lbs in 2 weeks. After that I became suicidal and ended up in a psych ward. Yeah.

I am so grateful for the family and friends and faith and medicine and miracles that saved me. My depression (in it's most serious form) lasted about 4 months. Then it started to get better. But those 4 months were my personal hell. This week is Rhett's 3rd birthday and I've been waking up at night with memories of how dark that time was. I still can't look at some of his new born pictures without feeling anxious. So yeah, 3 years later I still have memories so strong and feelings so vivid of that time that there are nights when I cry because that time was so dark. And so real.

So maybe it goes without saying, but the thought of having another child was too much. I was done. There is no way that I (or to be honest or our marriage) could go through that again. The risk was too great.

But at the same time I knew there was one more baby. I knew that having another child was one of the greatest trials of my faith that God could give me. And I was so angry at Him. How could he expect me to have faith in Him when I had felt so literally, completely abandoned? Hadn't I given everything to bring Rhett to the Earth?

As a disclaimer before I continue, much of my experience is influenced by my faith. I understand completely that not everyone has a "faith" or a God. But I still think that we, as women, all share a deep, eternal connection when it comes to bringing children into the world.

I really struggled with the fear of getting pregnant. Intimacy was a struggle for me. I had planned my whole life to be a mom. I always wanted to be a mom more than having a career. I thought I would be an amazing mom and that the moment I held my first born I would say, "Yes, this was worth it. I will have a lot of children; have them close together and I will love it. This is my choice."  So all of a sudden thinking that everything I had wanted was slipping away made me think again about having another child. Maybe I could do it.

BUT. The real decision, not the hypothetical, maybe I could-ish, one, took a long time. Over 2 years. I prayed a lot. I told Heavenly Father that I would have one more. But that depression could not be as bad. I just really knew deep in my core that I could not do that again. I don't know if you can make conditional promises with God; but I did. I had faith that I was His child. He knew me. He loved me. And He has blessed me so much that I eventually rebuilt my faith in His ability to deliver me.

When Rad was born I had my sweet moment that I missed with Rhett. I felt love for him. I wanted him.  Oh how I wanted him. I felt that connection to all mothers through time- when you love someone that you have never met, never touched, never laid eyes one. When you love them instantly with a love that hurts so deeply. And I felt complete. I felt God whisper to my heart that I had done what He asked. And I know now that I have given my best. And God made up for where I lacked.

And I cried.

So to those who have had PPD. And who want another child but are so scared, or anxious, or apprehensive about it. I promise you can do it.

I don't promise the depression won't come. I've had some with Rad. But nothing like with Rhett. If I could sum up what I learned before and after having a baby after having PPD it would be this:

1. You've been through depression before. It does get better. There is always an end.

2. Think about how amazing you are now. You've been through something horrible in a time that should have been wonderful. If there is anyone in the world who has learned to love, it's you. You now can give love and empathy and tenderness to anyone because you have been to the darkest side and back. And that makes you a great mother.

3. Whether you believe in God or not, brining a child into the world is a spiritual experience. And for whatever you believe or have faith in, be it God, or family, or friends, or science, or simply in nature and the good that is in the world, there are resources to help you. You are not alone.

4. You know the PPD is REAL. It is not just silly emotions. It is not a myth or something you can just snap out of. You can't just smile it away. Do you realize the power it knowing that?! You now know what to expect and you can make a plan to help mitigate any depression that might come. We knew some of the things that could trigger my depression the second time and we prepared as best we could for them. There is peace in preparation. I promise.

5. You don't have to be perfect. You just have to be good enough. I don't mean settle for being mediocre, I mean, I had to learn that good enough somedays means giving 95% and some days it means giving 13%. And that's OK. That's more than OK.

6. And lastly, I believe in you. And I don't mean that lightly. I know I won't meet or probably ever really know most people who might read this. But I am a mom.  I am about as normal and boring and imperfect as you can get. And if I can do it, you can. I don't mean that everyone needs to have more than one child. That is between you and whoever else you chose to include in that decision. But I know what it's like to become someone you never thought you could be and I really believe that you can do it.

I don't promise the next child will be a perfect experience. Somedays I just don't think I can do it. But I love my boys. I love them in a way that makes me think it's that kind of love that hold the stars in the sky. And that's enough for me.

Some amazing resources for those going through PPD: Pin It


  1. I struggled with PPD after the birth of my third child. Treatment, time, patience on the part of my family...they helped heal me. I'm glad you've found some peace!

  2. I am so glad you were able to write this post Julia. I know that time was very dark for you, but you had lots of people pulling and rooting for you. After that all happened, I was always amazed at your ability to make friends and connect with people. I was grateful to have a friend I could have real and honest conversations with. My PPD was not as severe as yours but I had other skeletons in my closet that caused extreme anxiety to the point that I couldn't be around anyone or leave my bed. I appreciate that we were able to be there for each other at this time and to have someone understand me. Your friendship is near and dear to my heart and I love you to pieces!

    1. P.S. it's Jessica not James. Forgot I was logged into his account. whoops!

  3. Thanks for sharing this Julia. I knew PPD was real, but I had never experienced depression until recently- first while I was pregnant with Lyla and then again (really bad) when I weaned Lyla. It was the first time I felt like I didn't want to live anymore. Really. It helps so many people that you are sharing your story. It's in sharing your story that more women will feel comfortable enough to get help and to talk. It was partly through reading other's experiences that I was able to get through it both times. You are a brave and amazing woman.

  4. We are deeply touched by this post. You honesty will help many. You are an amazing woman and mother and we have watched you mature so much through this possess. Thank you for not giving up hope and raising Rhett and having Rad. They are both incredible young boys. They are miracles as so are you. We love you Julia.

  5. I appreciate you sharing this. I remember those dark days for you and your family and wishing I could do more to help. I don't know why we keep this subject so quiet and taboo in our culture. When I had some PPD after my second, I didn't realize that is what it was or how to deal with it. We need to share our stories more so that more can recognize and not be ashamed to get the help they need. Thank you for having the courage to share.

  6. You are amazing and an inspiration. You shoukd write a book or be a motivational speaker! I feel like you are speaking to me personally. PPD is not only hard on mom, but on husband and children too. That is why it is hard sometimes for me to imagine having any more. Not juat for my sake, but mostly for my loved ones. I don't like the person I am when I am going through that.

  7. What a great post. I've had three babies, and for whatever reason, I was blessed to not have depression with any of them. Your decision and faith to have Rad was courageous. I have no doubt that courage will follow him into adulthood and he will become the same.

  8. Wow! Amazing post. You are brave and full of grace. God bless.

  9. People like you are bringing this public...this is how it becomes NOT taboo. Bravo, Julia!! you are an amazing mother, wife, friend and blogger!

  10. I dont think you will ever relize how much this has helped me ! I got the iud and i have only had it in a year and found out im 8 weeks! Yes im terrified after my first baby ppd and nicu stay ! She is now 3 and i was just starting to feel normal ! And as i sit here crying ! Trying to figure out how not to be a nut job this time ! And not live in fear this hole pregnancy i found your page! It was almost as god wanted me to find it i know it sounds crazy! But i really really needed to read this as i have soooo many fears this time ! Thanks sooo much Holly .

  11. I dont think you will ever relize how much this has helped me ! I got the iud and i have only had it in a year and found out im 8 weeks! Yes im terrified after my first baby ppd and nicu stay ! She is now 3 and i was just starting to feel normal ! And as i sit here crying ! Trying to figure out how not to be a nut job this time ! And not live in fear this hole pregnancy i found your page! It was almost as god wanted me to find it i know it sounds crazy! But i really really needed to read this as i have soooo many fears this time ! Thanks sooo much Holly .

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I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments! They bring a smile to my face!