The Signs of Postpartum Depression

For many women, pregnancy is a time of joyful anticipation. For nine months, expectant mothers daydream about what their baby will look like, about cuddling and feeding the baby, about how wonderful life will be with the baby. I know I did. When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought about beautiful things every day. I couldn’t wait to hold my little bundle in my arms. Life was going to be perfect.

But once baby had arrived, reality unfolded a completely different scenario. Sure, I was overjoyed to meet my baby. But I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like cuddling. Each day seemed to go on forever. I didn’t… enjoy being a mom.

I thought things like, “Is this normal? What’s wrong with me? Why do other new moms seem so happy? What am I doing wrong?” I never seemed to feel better.

It wasn’t until I delivered my second child (and had a completely different postpartum experience) that I realized that my first postpartum experience was a difficult one. Although I was never diagnosed, I believe that I was suffering through postpartum depression.

If you are a postpartum mom and are feeling down, lost, uncomfortable, sad, hopeless, or just unhappy, you might be suffering through some PPD (postpartum depression), too.

Here are some signs of PPD:

According to the mommy-favorite book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” signs may include:

  • crying and irritability
  • sleep problems
  • eating problems
  • persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • an inability or lack of desire to care for yourself or your newborn
  • social withdrawal
  • excessive worry
  • aversion to your newborn
  • feeling all alone
  • memory loss

This is a pretty large and comprehensive list. But what I’d like to do is share more specific, real-life examples gathered from my own experience. PPD is not easy to talk about. But if you’re reading this post, I’m glad you’re here. Here are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression that I experienced.

  • When people would ask me, “don’t you just love being a mom?” I would say something like “oh yeah, it’s great.” But I didn’t really feel that way. In my head, I was saying things like, “no. I hate it. I don’t like being a mom. It’s hard. I can’t do it.”
  • I had no desire to cuddle with my baby. I don’t remember ever just randomly scooping up my baby just to cuddle out of love and affection.
  • I hardly ever smiled or laughed.
  • I was beyond exhausted – I was only getting broken sleep and was seeing hallucinations.
  • I daydreamed about putting baby in the car seat and just driving away – just “escaping” somehow.
  • I felt stuck. I felt like this day-in, day-out job of caring for baby was torturous. I didn’t enjoy it, it was just something I had to do.
  • I felt guilty. “What’s wrong with me? I’m a terrible mom. I suck. I don’t deserve this child.”

These are some of the main signs and symptoms of postpartum depression that I experienced. If you are feeling similar things, you may be suffering through some PPD.

So what’s the next step?

First, tell someone how you’re feeling. Tell anyone – your husband, mom, sister, grandma, friend. Let someone know what you’re going through. This the very first, most important step. Talk. Share how you’re really doing. It’s not easy! I know this, mama. It’s very difficult to talk about it. But be brave. You can do it!

Next, let your listener help you determine the next steps. Should you visit your pastor? Schedule an appointment with a counselor? See a doctor? Let your listener help you. They care about you, and will want to help you in any way they can.

During my PPD journey, I never took the next steps. I was barely able to share with my husband how I was really feeling, and I never spoke with a pastor, counselor, or doctor. Taking these steps would have helped me out; I am sure of that. Speaking out and getting help will be good for you, mama. Share how you feel. You can do it!

If it is determined that you are going through PPD, the next part in your journey will be learning how to cope and recover. I’d like to discuss that in another post. For now, I’d like to give you a hug and help you determine how you really feel. If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of PPD mentioned about, talk to someone about it. Then determine what to do next.

Dear Mama,

I’m glad you’re here. I’m sorry you are feeling the way you do. I’ve been there, and I would never wish that on anyone else. May I pray for you? I will ask that Jesus would send you His love, peace, and grace. I will ask that He would help you find loving people who will listen and walk through this journey with you. I will pray that you will get through this. Jesus loves you, mama. I do too! Hang in there.

Feel free to leave a comment or contact me. Have you gone through PPD before? What were some of your signs? How did you step toward help and recovery?

The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, part 2

It’s been a while since I’ve continued my testimonial moving saga, but here comes part 2.

A quick recap: my husband and I were stuck in a funky situation. We were living on campus housing at the graduate school that he had just decided to stop attending. We were in an unfamiliar city, a day’s drive from our home state, with an extremely meager bank account. I was working a job that didn’t pay well. My husband, having just decided that more schooling wasn’t the right choice for him at that time, now was faced with the dilemma of trying to figure out what in the world he was supposed to be doing with his life. You can read the full post here.

And then we found out that we had two months to find somewhere else to live.

Two major, God-sent blessings happened next: one, we found a short-term housing option, and two, we were BOTH offered jobs.

Remember my old supervisor from my awesome first post-college job? I emailed him one day, just to catch up. I couldn’t help but spill our current scenario. A day later, he emailed me back with cheerful words, encouragement, and most amazing of all: a chance for employment. “Would you consider moving back to [that state]? I’ve got a mission opportunity for both you and your husband.”

I thought he was joking! I really did. Nope. He was serious. Had I not sent that “oh hey, how are you doing” email, we may have never reconnected and been presented with this opportunity. God at work, people. He provides!

Not only did He bless us with a job opportunity, He blessed us with housing. We found a little apartment with a short, three-month-long lease. And that’s all we needed. At the end of that three months, we’d be packing a U-Haul trailer and making a two day journey to a brand new town, new housing, new jobs, new mission, new people. This was a chance to serve the people of God as missionaries, and we were up for – and thankful for – the opportunity.

And although this God-given fresh start was exactly what we needed, it would still present us with new obstacles and challenges.


The Moving Game: A Testimony to the Grace of God, Part 1

The contents of this and the subsequent three parts have been swirling around in my mind for some time now. Basically, my family and I have moved a lot: seven residences in the past four years. And one of these moves was a big one. (I’m talking a cross-country, U-Haul trailer-in-tow type of move in which our destination provided no stable income and no housing of our own… and we had a baby on the way). It was almost unthinkable. Yet throughout these transitions, the grace and provision of God was so clear and so profound that I cannot help but share this story.

In order for me to fully explain the depth and overwhelming nature of God’s goodness to us, I’ll need to give some backstory. (Read: sit back and relax ‘cuz it’s going to take me a few paragraphs to set the scene).

I’ll have to take you back to my senior year of college. One month before graduating, I had a solid lead on an amazing job possibility. The only factor that made me even have an ounce of hesitation about accepting this position was that the job would take me far away from family and friends to a US state with which I was not very familiar. But I prayed and prayed about the prospect and felt that God was leading me to try out this new adventure. So, four months later I was scouting out apartment options and embracing my first “real” post-school job.

My experiences working for this start-up Christian ministry were many and varied, and I learned a lot. But that’s a post for another time. What you need to know is, I developed some amazing friendships and worked under a fantastic supervisor. Nine months after I started working, I was already saying good-bye and heading back to my home state. My husband and I had gotten engaged during that time. I left the job in June; we were getting married in December.

One year later, we were six months into our marriage. My husband had completed his first year of graduate school and I was working. We were living in a state that was a good day’s drive from our home state. The plan was for my husband to continue his schooling, and find a good job at the end of this arduous educational experience that would provide fulfillment for him and the means for us to have a family one day.

Well, plans changed. We decided that this higher education route wasn’t the right thing for us, and we needed a new plan. The problem was, we were “stuck” in a funky situation. I was the only one with a job, and it didn’t pay well. (I mean, we were living paycheck to paycheck and were digging into our wedding money to make sure we had food in the refrigerator). It didn’t help that we both had tuition debt and I was still paying on my first ever car loan. Since my husband wouldn’t be attending school any longer, we also had to leave the married housing on campus where we were currently living and find somewhere else to live… in this unfamiliar city where we had absolutely no ties.

So, we found ourselves embracing the dilemma of securing some housing, making enough money, and determining where and what in the world we were supposed to be doing with our lives.

What happened next was truly an extension of the grace of God, and a lesson I will never forget. Read about it here.

Sweet Words: Offering Encouragement Can be Simple and Effective

To anyone who is overwhelmed, sad, anxious, fearful, or depressed, helpful words can go a long way. If you know of a mom (or anyone) who could use some encouragement, do not hesitate to share a few kind thoughts. A simple text or email can go a long way. Saying things like “you sure are doing a good job” or “your child is so blessed to have you as a mommy” or “you’re a beautiful mom” will do WONDERS for her. Here is a Bible verse based on the importance of sharing words.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:2

King Solomon reminds us of the power of words through his wise proverb. Talking is easy, and sharing some kind words doesn’t take long at all. It brings sweet joy to the recipient.

We all need encouragement. Since none of us are perfect, it helps to have a good chunk of grace thrown our way as we do our best to work, live, and have relationships. Know that polite comments and kind compliments are very helpful. And remember that Jesus offers the best grace of all. It’s sweet!