Dying to Live

I sent this pic to Paul on Tuesday after a four hour non-stop cluster feeding session with our newest son, Jude, (#boymom 😊) who officially entered our Father’s world on September 21st, 2020. Because of some issues at birth (which I will share at a later date when I am able to sit down and write the birth story), we had to unexpectedly stay an extra night in the hospital. So Paul headed home to be with our older two boys and relieve my mom who needed to be at work the next day. I am so thankful to have had the care received at a hospital this time around (my last delivery with my middle son was at a birth center and it was supposed to be for this pregnancy/delivery too, but they dropped my insurance when I was around 12 weeks pregnant…but nothing is coincidence with God) for a number of reasons I will share later, but I am happy we are finally now home. My heart is full. 

Yet, at the same time, these last several days have been filled with much struggle and difficulty, and I find myself having a lot of flashbacks of my experience as a first-time mom almost exactly six years ago

This is the second time we have brought a new life into the world at the turn of Fall…Paul and I’s favorite season. It’s when we began dating so it holds a very special place in our heart. But with the turn of this particular season, I also have memories of some dark and heavy times in my life as well.

It is rather mind-blowing to me that not only were Isaiah (our oldest) and Jude born around the same time of year (just about 2.5 weeks a part), they have strikingly similar facial features, and what is even more obvious to me is their similar temperament. 

To be completely honest, Isaiah was not an easy baby. Frankly, he was not a very happy baby. I felt like I was failing as a mom because he was constantly upset and uncomfortable. I had trouble soothing him with things that normally worked and when he got upset…he got REALLY upset. Once he cried so hard in the car that he popped blood vessels in his eyes. He also barely slept either during the day or at night…unless I was holding him. (His struggle with sleep actually lasted until he was about 2.5 years old and on and off for another year after that).

It didn’t take long for me to realize that because of a traumatic birth experience, severe sleep deprivation, and my history of struggle with anxiety and depression, I was not handling any of it very well.

But because of my severe lack of understanding of the sovereignty of God and horrendous Word of Faith beliefs, I never told a soul, not even admit it to myself that I was struggling. You just don’t do that because once you say it, it becomes reality (**Cough** Law of Attraction **Cough**Cough*). There’s power in your words…power to speak life and death, I was taught. This, of course, is taking Proverbs 18:21 out of context (and not even quoting the whole verse) to mean we can create every outcome in life with our words.

Friends, that is not what that verse means, but that’s another topic for another time. 

And how could I forget to stand upon my “life verse” in times of struggle… “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Taking Philippians 4:13 out of context to mean that I am unstoppable…a super human if you will… because “I am a Christian! I am a child of God…I am more than a conqueror in Christ! I am to walk victoriously in all areas of my life! I am blessed and highly favored! When Jesus died of the cross, He took away ALL sin, sickness, and disease! I am healed and whole. Nothing missing, nothing broken. Anxiety and depression are just attacks from Satan and he has no authority in my life…I bind this anxiety and depression in the name of Jesus! I am not weak!” 

But the thing is… I am weak!

I know to admit that now probably more than ever because of these last (almost) six years of motherhood.

This particular passage of scripture in 2 Corinthians has carried me through so many dark nights of the soul, and I find myself clinging to its truth in my current season:

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB

Not only have I learned to admit my weaknesses so that I can boast in the strength and grace of Christ, I have learned a whole new level of dying to self as I lean into the high (demanding) calling of motherhood. 

This morning as baby Jude stirred for a feeding and my body feeling the ache of the aftermath of my third natural childbirth and only 2.5 hours of sleep as I write this, I read these comforting and timely words in an email from Well-Watered Women:

“When the mornings begin to cool and the leaves start to change, so does my heart. The heat of summer is passing, and any sign of a chill in the air causes my heart to soar and my tummy to crave a nice cup of coffee. The changing of the season brings new life to my soul and my home—but at the same time, it ushers in death.

Once-green leaves begin to turn colorful hues before falling to the ground and losing all signs of life. The leaves that previously shaded us from the sun become a crumpled heap we step on. This necessary death brings about new life in the world as well as in our souls.

Death brings new life for believers as well. Death to self brings life in the Spirit (Romans 8:9–11). Death to sin brings life in Christ (Romans 6:6–8). Jesus offers us the invitation to die to ourselves in order to embrace true life in him (Luke 9:23). This year, let the changing of the seasons be a physical reminder of the importance and beauty of death in the Christian life. Death is not the end for the follower of Jesus; it’s the segway to new life in him.

May we die to live. May we lose to gain him—and him alone—as we remember that in the changing of the seasons, he never changes. His truths never fail and they never grow stale. They never falter or become less vital. Rather, his Word sustains us when every leaf falls and the cold of winter comes. His grace gives us hope and enjoyment in every season.”  

Gretchen Saffles

What a powerful reminder of who our God is…never changing even when the seasons change!

So I will end with this…

As we enter this Fall season, and I enter a new season of motherhood that brings me to my knees in the middle of the night and causes me to die to myself a little more each day, I fix my eyes on Jesus and boast of my weakness and my great need for the Lord. 

Jesus’ grace is sufficient today and in every season. 

“This year, let the changing of the seasons be a physical reminder of the importance and beauty of death in the Christian life. Death is not the end for the follower of Jesus; it’s the segway to new life in Him. May we die to live.”

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Walking Through Postpartum Depression

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41:10, NLT

“Do you want to harm yourself or your baby?”

“No.”

“Okay. No Postpartum Depression then.”

That was the extent of my examination at my release from the hospital after my first son was born as well as at my six week postpartum check up with my doctor.

And since that seemed to be the only question I had been asked regarding the issue, I thought I was free and clear from the dreaded PPD.

But as the weeks went on, I began to experience behavior and emotions that did not seem normal. I was arguing with my husband (which we seriously seldom do) constantly over the most insignificant things and I felt like I had no support, even though that couldn’t have been further from the truth because my husband is the most supportive and selfless man I know. I would belittle him and snap at him at the drop of a hat. I was suffering continuously with anxiety attacks to the point of hyperventilation because I didn’t like who I was becoming.

My attitude went beyond the effects of the normal sleep deprivation you experience with a newborn- I felt out of control and miserable. When my son finally fell asleep, I was unable to doze off and would just stare at the ceiling until 4 AM.

I really noticed that there was a problem when I felt rage welling up inside me when my newborn would not stop crying, and I couldn’t console him whatsoever.

I then began to argue with God:

“When am I supposed to read my Bible? When am I supposed to have ‘quiet’ time with You? I need Your peace because I’m disconnected from the Vine, but how, Lord? How?”

Although I felt like a failure, somehow I knew that it wasn’t my fault.

I began to research hormonal imbalances after pregnancy and PPD symptoms. I discovered that there are more issues associated with commonly known PPD, such as PPA (Postpartum anxiety). The more information I read about the symptoms of PPD and PPA, the more I was aware of my behavior and the more I could control it, instead of it controlling me. As a Christian woman, I knew to also fight with prayer and focus on renewing my mind by listening to His Word day by day.

In addition to prayer, I reached out to PPD/PPA support groups and other Christian women who have walked through it. I also have been watching my diet because the food you consume also affects your endocrine system, the system that produces and releases hormones in your body, in major ways.

Everyone’s body and situation are different. Some women need to be put on medication and/or need to see a counselor.  Seek medical attention if you feel as if your symptoms are severe- you want to harm yourself or your baby. You are loved. You are not a failure.

Here is some advice that I learned during my recovery process:

Do not suffer in silence. Tell someone what you are going through. Don’t hesitate to ask for prayer or a listening ear. The enemy longs for you to stay in denial and allow your symptoms to worsen and drag you down into the pit of depression.
Get as much sleep as you can. Your brain needs to be recharged, so try to sleep 5-6 hours a night and nap when the baby does (this is really true) – the house work can wait. Your recovery is more important.
Avoid or limit caffeine. Try your best to cut back on your caffeine intake. I know, I know…I need my coffee! Unfortunately caffeine wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, so try to slow down or avoid how much coffee or soda you are drinking. Your body will thank you.
Laugh! Laughing keeps your endorphins up. Find a funny movie that you enjoy or watch silly videos on YouTube. Tim Hawkins is a favorite one for me!
Listen to the Bible or teaching. You most likely will not be able to sit down and do in-depth Bible studies or devotions like you used to and that’s okay. I have the Bible on my iPod and will plug it into some speakers and let it play throughout our house while I’m taking care of my son. Your mind must be renewed with the Truth so that you can combat the lies that the enemy tries to throw at you.
PRAY! Jesus has sent us the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Helper so don’t hesitate asking Him for comfort and help at all times. Sometimes all you can pray is “help” and help will come!

Like I said before, you are not a failure!

Not only have you experienced a drastic change in your body, your life is forever different with the new addition to your family. Walking through these hormonal/emotional changes is all about recovery. And thankfully, as a Christian woman, you do not have to walk alone. 

The Lord will help you and strengthen you. He is with you always and will see you through this! 


A version of Walking Through Postpartum Depression is also posted on theprayingwoman.com!

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