A mixture of fear and shame pulsed through me, not the usual joy the news a second child brings. After my son’s birth, I suffered from severe postpartum depression. It was the darkest time in my life. I was hospitalized for nearly two weeks and separated from my newborn for most of that time. The situation was completely beyond my control, but I felt so much shame over it. With the help of good doctors and my amazing family, I began to recover and finally feel like myself again.
A couple of doctors strongly suggested that I never become pregnant again, but at my last psychiatric appointment, when Ben was about six months old, the doctor told me he believed it was an isolated incident, and I would be fine to have children in the future.
So, in August 2013, when two at-home pregnancy tests showed those two pink lines, I had mixed emotions. I wanted a sibling for Ben and a chance for me to savor those newborn days and wash away a tarnished portion of my heart. However, the shame still weighed heavily on me. The intricate stories I allowed shame to weave in my mind paralyzed me with fear.
When we are in shame, we don’t see the big picture; we don’t accurately think about our strengths and limitations. We just feel alone, exposed and deeply flawed.” — Brené Brown
I felt that aloneness and raw exposure in the beginning of my second pregnancy. So I started talking to people I trusted. People who had earned the right to hear my raw, vulnerable story.
During this fearful time, I would often ask God to ease my fears and replace them with His dreams for my family … to help me overcome crippling fear that was robbing me of my joy during this pregnancy. I remember one particular night when I was in the third trimester of my pregnancy with Caroline and was begging God to spare me from postpartum depression this time around. I told Him, “I just don’t think I can live through that again. I’m not strong enough.”
I suddenly felt great peace as He reminded me I was the only one who could undo the marvelous works that He had already done in me. Romans 8:35 asks the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” I used to see that verse as encouragement that the devil could not separate us from Christ. But now I see it as encouragement from the Father to hold tight to the love of Christ and not allow shame to coax me back to harmful, entrenched behaviors.
I’ve heard that “time heals all wounds,” but time did not heal the shameful wounds of PPD. It wouldn’t matter if there were four or six years between my pregnancies. I had to believe I was a different person, even though my reflection in the mirror looked exactly the same. And believe in the permanence of the healing I’d found through medicine, therapy and supernatural healing from Christ. I also had to be brave enough to dust myself off and try again.
The name Caroline Grace literally means “free woman of grace.” Her name is a promise for both of us. Throughout labor and delivery, I felt the reassuring peace that only Jesus provides. And those first couple weeks at home were such a sweet honeymoon period. The second time around I eased into motherhood like I was designed perfectly for the role. I’m still amazed at the common miracles that God has provided for me.
When has shame and fear held you back from healing?Sometimes the thing we fear most is what can become the catalyst for our healing.Click To Tweet