The Scream

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No one tells you this, but it’s hard a first. Judah entered this world blue and breathless. Through panic-stricken eyes, I watched as he was plopped onto my chest and promptly whisked away a few seconds later. I remember craning my neck past my doctor who was dutifully working to make me whole again. He was blocking my view of my silent blue boy, and I grew impatient. My ears turned to listen to any sign of a whimper, any sign of life.

 

And then, there it was — the scream. It was the kind of scream that grounds your heart in deep relief, the kind that removes the firm grip on your lungs to allow for new breath to fill them. Suddenly, my little blue boy was a beautiful shade of life. And as he was placed on my chest again, my heart pulsed vigorously, bewildered by the screaming stranger that lay before me.

 

The scream. It persisted into that first night and was silenced only under loud, gulping guzzles or deep, sedated snoozes. It repeated every hour — Eat. Sleep. Scream. My mind was in a frazzled state of shock as my sleep-deprived body worked overtime to restore both itself and the scream that seemed to meet no end.

 

We headed home on a Monday night. I remember fumbling into the backseat with so much conflict in my heart. My body ached and my eyes yearned for sleep. We set out, the three of us. We set out toward the unfamiliarity of the most familiar place… home. And it was there, somewhere between the midnight diaper change and the 2 a.m. feeding, that I knew what it was. Depression. It had come like a masked bandit, robbing me of the long-awaited joy my heart so desperately pined for. And I felt ashamed because of it. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I WANTED this child. I prayed for this child.  

 

Visitors came and went in those first few weeks, and I struggled under the weight of the pleasantries. My life, it seemed, was closing in around me and everyone was smiling, full of the joy I thought I would be experiencing. But it persisted — the screams kept coming along with the cascade of water that continuously erupted from my eyes.

 

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This picture was taken three days after Judah was born. I remember it so vividly. “I need to get outside,” I told my husband. So, fresh from my shower, we walked around in the afternoon sun, each step taken with care to avoid the pain that you can only understand after having given birth. I was tired, sleep-deprived, and depressed. But I was also determined. I set my mind on loving this screaming little stranger. And, you see, that’s the thing of it all. Loving him didn’t come naturally. I had to work for it.

 

And so I worked at it. Night after sleepless night, I awoke to Judah’s screams with labored love in my heart. I showered him with affirmations and cradled him close with care. And as his screams got a little louder, my heart grew a little bigger to make room for him. Day in and day out, I trudged along this way until I felt it starting to lift — that wretched fog of depression that surrounded me. And that’s when the floodgates of love sprang open, devouring the gap between me and my little screamer.

 

This story is a difficult one to tell, but it’s an honest one. That’s life though, isn’t it? Honest, raw, messy. No one is immuned from it. But it’s a beautiful thing, if you think about it. Because just when you think you’ve been left to trudge down your path alone, you find unexpected solace in the remnants left behind from those who walked the road before you. The rich, the poor, the working class. We all go through these life experiences together.

 

So, to the one who is, or will be, stumbling through the fog of postpartum life, you are not alone. Hang in there, dear sister. The love you expected to feel WILL find you in time. Pray. Heal. Seek help. And then let the love devour your heart.


Because it really is such a wonderful life.

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5 thoughts on “The Scream

  1. You are definitely not alone either. I remembering after I had Khloe I felt the same way and I realized I had Postpartum depression after giving birth to her in 2010. I do not even know why I got postpartum depression. My husband and I have tried to get pregnant and purposely had her, but after she was born. It was sad I dis-attached myself from her and wanted a different life. I wanted it to go back to the way it was with just my husband and me. I know it sounded selfish, but then I researched my behavior and it is because I had depression, because this poor baby girl was taking my sleep and making forget about myself and no one can really prepare themselves for this big suppose. Even though I love my daughter I still do not want anymore children because of how expensive it is to take care of them, plus how sad I felt when I had her. It felt very dis-attached and I was mad at myself for feeling this way toward a baby I wanted to have. Sometimes I think it is because I wanted to be pregnant with a boy, but God gave me a girl.

    I also still struggle with taking care of her. When she calls me mommy all the time it get tiring, but now I cannot see myself without her. It is a weird feeling for sure.

  2. Right there with you! Postpartum depression is so so cripplingly hard, but our baby was a NaPro baby, too, so I felt DOUBLY guilty for being depressed when we’d worked hard for this baby. NaPro came to the rescue for me again, with a week of postpartum progesterone shots that gave me my life back. Still difficult to be a first time mom, but the depression was gone!

  3. Dear Brittany, your words take me back about 20 years ago. To that beautiful, longed for baby, to the sadness that I didn’t realize enveloped me, to the life we had. It was a blur. I didn’t always stop and look around in the chaos. I hope that I was as purposeful and loving as you make the effort to be now.

    Know that you are not alone, that you can make this journey. Our God is good – He is with you. Your testimony shows that. Know that many pray for and with you. Relish this time with your sweet family. Keep being aware of yourself, what you need and ask for help. From your dear husband and your community there. If you don’t have a circle of friends, I encourage you to find or create one – a mom’s group at church. In taking care of you, you take better care of your little guy, who will one day, be tall, wear deodorant, and have hairy legs. When he sleeps, he will still have the same expression and face as he does now as a baby.

    Your awareness of the gift, the love that is real and grows is beautiful. Love is an action – I hope to support encourage you. I have with my prayers and just felt like words would be good today, too. Being a parent is a gift. The saying goes something like “the days are long, but the years short.” We get a glimpse of what it is like for our God to love us (His screamers) unconditionally…our loving Father who keeps giving.

    God Bless You!

  4. Hey Brittany,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and when you wrote this, it really resonated with me. My husband and I have had no fertility issues, but I suffered badly with postpartum depression with my first daughter. I know that you mentioned something about NaProTechnology a while back, and I wanted to let you know that progesterone injections postpartum can be a real life saver. They moved me from resentment, exhaustion and always feeling tired and unhappy or blah, to feeling like myself again. After our son was born, I was much more proactive about taking the progesterone injections earlier to try to avoid some of the PPD and had a much better time. Plus, I think nothing is as shocking as that first baby. It’s like your whole life changes in an instant and then you’re responsible for this little person who is so needy and so illogical. I oftentimes wonder if women who have infertility and then get pregnant have a harder time too because it’s been built up in your mind for so longer how beautiful it would be to have a baby and then the reality is really hard, just like it is for everyone. Anyway, if you’re still feeling weird, you should call your local NaPro doctor (I don’t know where you live, but hopefully you’re close) or you can call Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, NE, and they can prescribe it for you long distance. And if you’re feeling better, definitely keep it in mind for the next time around. If you have any questions about it, feel free to email me.

    And congrats!

  5. I can’t thank you enough for so vividly and honestly explaining your postpartum experience. It was like you were there with me 20 years ago when I had my first child. It’s amazing how all of that time can pass and it just takes reading your story to bring all of those emotions right back to the surface. I think he hardest part is coming to terms with how badly you long for a child and the emotional conflict you feel once you finally get your long awaited gift.
    I had no idea what I was experiencing. I just knew I felt shameful so I kept it to myself. What a mistake.
    The beautiful news is the fog does lift. And for me, it never returned for my subsequent pregnancies.

    Thank you brave, sweet woman for putting to words what I kept hidden in the silence of my heart.
    Peace and love to you and your family.

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