Posted on August 27 2019
From the moment we found out I was pregnant with her to the moment she was placed in my arms, we were happy, scared, excited, shocked, and every other emotion in between. She was a surprise! I remember sitting there on the bathroom floor thinking, my life will never be the same. And that it wasn’t!
I remember at my OB appointments when my doctor would tell me the things to watch for in the pregnancy, even things to keep an eye on after the pregnancy, I remember thinking, none of that will happen to me. I’m super happy we’re pregnant! The baby won’t be sick. Nothing will happen with me. The delivery will be safe. Life is going to be amazing and full of joy from delivery on! “None of this will happen to me.”
On May 30th, 2017 at 1:16 am she was placed in my arms and all those happy thoughts changed. I went completely numb. Emotionally numb. I thought she looked gross with all the stuff on her, I couldn’t comprehend how a human just came out of me, I didn’t want to touch her. I thought I was acting this way just because of the fact she was born so early and it had been a long day. Or so I hoped.
It was my first baby and she was happy and healthy. What was wrong with me? Shouldn’t I be thrilled and overjoyed? Shouldn’t I be crying? Shouldn’t I be smiling? I wasn’t, and I immediately didn’t want much to do with her. I didn’t want to learn how to feed her, I didn’t want to get up to change her diaper, I didn’t want to hold her. I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up happy. “I’m just tired, it’ll go away”, I thought.
About 4 weeks after having Brynley, and my mindset still the same, I realized I couldn’t continue this way. It all changed one evening, when I yelled at my four family members individually for something they didn’t do. I left Brynley crying on the floor, and my mom had to tell me to go pick her up because it was time for her to eat. I knew something was wrong with me but I didn’t know how to articulate it. So again, I just kept quiet, but I knew I needed help.
That next day, after the baby and I woke up at 11 am, we got our things and went to my mom’s house because I couldn’t just sit at home that day and I was bored. My mom told me to sit down, and she said, “I called your doctor this morning and told her my concerns. She said she needs to see you right away. You’re not yourself and you don’t want to connect with Brynley and we need to get you looked at. It isn’t healthy for you and definitely not the baby.”
I understood where she was coming from. I had three foster siblings growing up, one of which was abandoned by her mom and wasn’t a happy baby at 6 months old. Then after being with us for three days, she began to smile, play, sit up, roll, and laugh just because we were giving her the attention she needed. I didn’t want this to be my baby. I didn’t want this for her. I knew this wasn’t the way a mother was supposed to take care of her baby.
I agreed with my mom and the next day we went to the doctor.
My mom went with me and I just remember looking at my doctor with a blank stare. Saying I didn’t think this would happen to me. She told me I’ll be okay and that it happens to many women, but it’s something we need to get taken care of or it could get really bad. I also told her I wanted to be done breastfeeding – I couldn’t take it anymore and I didn’t want to do it. She looked at me and sweetly said, “We can do that, but it’s going to be much harder for you to get through this if you don’t. You need to bond with Brynley. You need to force yourself to do it. Once you get bonded, then we’ll talk about weening.” I remember her putting fear in me but at the same time, I honestly don’t think I knew the severity if we didn’t get this nipped in the butt.
“You have postpartum depression and you need to see a counselor”. I never thought I’d hear this sentence and here I was sitting in the doctor’s office and it was my reality. My doctor looked at my mom and said, “She and Brynley both need to be watched 24/7 until we can get this leveled out.” And so we were.
We were “babysat” for the next 2 months by my mom and my mother-in-law, my sister, and friends. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t be with Brynley by myself, it was also that I couldn’t be alone with myself.
It was hard for me to love my husband even though he was changing diapers, holding her, putting her to sleep, getting up with her in the night. I just didn’t want much to do with him or care to thank him. I began to just move on and think this was my new “normal” – full of responsibility, no time for me, no time for my husband, and doing everything 24/7 for the baby for the rest of my life.
It was hard for me to continue my walk with Jesus. I couldn’t love people well here in the physical, how can I continue to have a good relationship with Him? There’s just not enough time in the day to try to figure out my spiritual life. BUT thankfully, His grace is enough and He loves us through it.
Won’t everyone just be better off without me? My husband wouldn’t have to deal with the mess that I am, he can take care of the baby and be enough for her. My family doesn’t want to have to worry about me. My in-laws probably think I’m a psycho. Brynley doesn’t deserve someone who doesn’t want to take care of her. I sleep until 11 or noon every day, don’t care to eat, and then I’m ready for bed again by 9 pm. My days were pointless. All I did was feed the baby, sleep, get angry, feed the baby, sit on the couch, feed the baby, and console the baby. It was too exhausting.
Or so I thought. I remember thinking to myself, if I just take all my medication at once, maybe I’ll go to sleep and not wake up. I remember thinking of ideas on how to end this. I was on medication, yes, it just hadn’t kicked in soon enough. Looking back, I know that I didn’t continue down that path because I knew that wasn’t the answer to freedom and that Jesus was and I couldn’t give up this easily.
I didn’t want to come to grips with this. I thought I was stronger than that. I needed to swallow my pride. For the sake of me, my family, and my baby. I needed to let people take care of Brynley, needed to let people come pick us up in the morning to go to their house until Elliot got home from work, I needed to let myself take a nap when Brynley did, I needed to listen to worship music when the house was quiet, I needed to just say “Jesus” when I didn’t feel him, I needed to fight this. I needed to fix me. I needed to help me. I needed to save me.
My very first counseling session, she looked me in the eyes and said, “If you take nothing from this first meeting, please take this. You cannot be 100% Brynley’s 100% of the time.” Y’all, that freed me up. Immediately weights were lifted off my shoulders. She was so right. I couldn’t be 100% hers 100% of the time. And it wasn’t good for me to be either. I needed time for myself in order to heal, and in order to be a better momma.
And this is where Royal and Reese came into play! I became a part of the R&R team officially during the darkest part of my life. My sister nanny’s for Tara and she knew I needed something to get me out of the house and not have to deal with Brynley 24/7. My mom and mother in law offered to keep Brynley once a week if I could find something for me to do. My sister let Tara know I’m available and needing to get out of the house if they had a place for another employee. In the meantime, I watched the live videos and shopped to have human interaction and be a part of something other than the things here at home.
R&R was a huge part to get me to where I’m at now. It was a step towards the healing, no doubt! What started as a “I need to get out of the house regularly” excuse, turned into making friends, making relationships outside of just a baby, and working on me and what I needed in order to get better. They helped me see that I am a good mama, I am beautiful despite the stretch marks and extra pounds, the tired eyes, and the messy hair. That other people do want to know my story, they do want to help me, and what I do does matter. That Jesus is bigger than it all and that suicide wasn’t the answer. R&R gave me a purpose to get out of bed and out of the house two days a week. I had to get to the job no matter how awful I felt. And I desperately needed that push and accountability.
About a year went by, I went back to the doctor and she says, “Taylor, you had the worst postpartum depression I’ve seen yet.” That was hard to hear. But yet, it made me realize where I had come from. The medicine kicked in, I began to love Brynley and wanted to take care of and be around her. I saw the good things in the day and not always the bad. I saw the man my husband TRULY was, the man who went through hell and back with me. I saw that my family really did love me for who I was and it wasn’t based on my behavior or mental state. I saw and felt Jesus protect me from what could have been destructing for not only me but my family.
It wasn’t all uphill from here and I still struggle with bouts of depression here and there and I’m still on medication, yes, but I want to be a momma to Brynley, I want to be a wife, I want to be a sister, friend, daughter, and I want to live. I want to be a voice for those mama’s who are going through the same thing. Yes, I still struggle time to time in my relationship with God but
He’s always there. His grace is enough. And He’s not mad at me. He loves me still and I love him more.
My life wasn’t perfect, nor will it ever be and I needed to stop striving for that. Having a newborn wasn’t going to be all smiles, joy, and love like the world makes it seem. I began to realize the more I told my story, the more I shared my pain, the more I shared my struggle, the more healing that came with that. And the more people opened up about it to and in turn would help them heal. The more vulnerable I was, the stronger I became. There’s so much freedom that comes with working through the pain and the hard.
So friend, if you’re going through something, PLEASE find someone to talk with. No one will judge you. No one will mock you or make you think less of yourself. We need each other. You’re not in this alone.
If it wasn’t for my family and husband stepping in, my faith in Jesus and knowing I have more to this life than depression and that He has a better plan for me, if it wasn’t for friends who listened, I’m not sure I’d be here. I can’t thank them enough. Because of them, I get to be a momma to Brynley, I get to watch her grow and be her sweet self. I get to be a better wife, sister, daughter, and friend. And I realize that everything I went through was worth it.
I am loved. I am enough. I am wanted. Just as Jesus says I am.
Written by: Taylor Sanders