That We Might Have Joy: Emalee's Story

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016. The day started out like any other-- my husband left for work, I made breakfast for my 1.5 year old daughter, and then struggled to nurse my 3 week old son for 30 minutes. I was exhausted. I was in a lot of pain. My son had a slight top lip tie that somehow everyone had missed, and it made breastfeeding very difficult and, at times, impossible. Emotionally, I didn’t feel like myself. I never wanted to leave the house, unless my husband or my mom was with me. I couldn’t talk to my friends. I couldn’t answer the phone or even text anyone. I didn’t know what was wrong. I chalked it up to baby blues and just exhaustion. 

That night changed everything. We needed to go to the store, so I told my husband I would meet him there after he got off work. I started the grocery shopping before he got there, justifying that we could get it done faster if I didn’t wait for him to get there. This was the first time I had been to the store on my own since my son was born, I was so stressed out, but I kept telling myself that I needed to suck it up, because we needed groceries. Halfway through the trip, our toddler was in full meltdown mode, I couldn’t think straight, our son was getting fussy, and everyone kept looking at us. I was getting so flustered. My husband was saying something to me, and I couldn’t even process what he was saying. I just snapped at him. I told him to just leave me alone. So he did, and I don’t blame him for it. 

20 minutes later, I’m standing in the middle of the freezer section, fussy baby wrapped on my chest, crying because I can’t read my list, I can’t remember anything from my list, and there are people staring at me. I don’t even remember calling my mom to be honest; I just remember her answering and telling me to breath. After a few minutes, I was able to calm down enough to check out. Checking out was its own nightmare. The register wasn’t working right, and I was starting to panic. After what seemed like forever, I was checked out and in my car. My mom called me again to check on me, and after a short conversation, she told me something that would change not only my present and future, but would add a lot of clarity to my past. “Emalee, I think you might have postpartum anxiety….” That night my husband held me while I cried, I apologized, and we worked through what this all meant.

The next couple of weeks were all about doing research and trying to understand what was going on with me. My husband was right by my side the whole time, helping me figure out how to explain what I was feeling and helping me get out of the house more. At my 6 week postpartum checkup, I broke down and cried to my OB telling her what had happened in the past 6 weeks and my fears. We talked for about an hour; she talked over options, gave me a lot of information, and just listened. Come to find out, I have had anxiety my entire life but I never said anything, because I thought that everyone was like me. We decided I would try to work through my anxiety without medication until my postpartum hormones leveled out, and then we would see how I was feeling. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. 

Now 6 months later, I’m doing a lot better-- I work out 6 times a week, I meditate and pray daily, and I’m completely open with my husband about my thoughts and worries without (unnecessary) anxiety. I have decided not to take any medication and have found that the steps I do take help me immensely.  I have also found a few other moms who have gone/are going through the same things as me, and they have helped me build a village of love, support, and understanding. I still have a hard time leaving the house some days, and sometimes I won’t answer my phone for anyone except my husband. I still make up scenarios in my head and psych myself out before things happen. I have become more socially awkward in some situations, and most of our date nights are going to the store for groceries. Sometimes even posting things on social media can stress me out. I still have bad days, but that is part of life. It will not always be sunny, but I know that after the storm, the sun will shine again. 

My children and my husband have helped me find joy in this trial. They have been there to help me at my lowest and cheer with me at my highest. My children remind me to find joy in the little things even when I feel like the world is crashing around me. My husband will talk me through any scenario I work up in my head, cheers me on when I step outside my comfort zone, and helps me when I can’t. It is still a constant trial with me just about every day. My family gives me great strength, and I’m able to feel their love and concern for me when we talk through my anxiousness. I know as I work through this trial I will grow closer to my husband, the Lord, and my family.  I know that God does not give us a trial that we cannot overcome. I have to keep reminding myself of that, but as I do, I regain the strength I need to press on and endure. 

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