Mother’s Day Check-In

by Brittany Plancarte

With Mother’s Day coming up, there are going to be BBQs, brunches, or family visits. Maybe a gifted spa day or free car wash. Those are all amazing ways to celebrate the moms in our life. However, I want to remind everyone to really ask that mother in your life “No, really, how are you?”. This question can be more helpful than any gift or service. I know this is true because after my fourth child, I had horrible postpartum depression. This is a shortened story of the problems I had leading up to and after her birth and the people who helped lead me back to God.

My walk with God had always been in the general area of lukewarm. Sometimes more in the warmer area and other times in the colder area. When I would get knocked down, I would cling to Him realizing that he’s my lifeline. But then things would get better and I would float away from Him. And that cycle would repeat. I’m not saying that with Him I wouldn’t encounter issues, but had I been more firm in my faith, then I know I could have better handled the storm that came. Matthew 7:24-27.

From the start of my fourth pregnancy, I was unable to fully feel the happy anticipation of new life, the excitement of being a mother again, or the joys of meeting my baby for the first time. There were so many things that were not allowing me to feel all the good and happy emotions of my new little one, things that I was trying to deal with and heal from. Issues that I thought I was getting over and mental instabilities I thought I was working on. With every twist and turn in my life, I thought God had brought me to the lowest of lows with my depression and anxiety. And each time I recovered, or so I thought, and kept moving. But, the birth of a child, and the messed up hormones that come after, have a way of humbling you and can bring up all the emotions and issues that were festering in the background.

When induction day came for our encore (baby 4) I wasn’t excited. Instead, I was filled with a mix of nerves, dread, and something else I can’t put my finger on. When I pushed her out, I cried. I know that’s not uncommon, but I didn’t cry for any of my others; maybe a happy tear here and there. However, this time, I felt my shoulders start to shake with grief and fear. But, again, I stored my emotions and refused to allow myself to dissect these emotions. I remember thinking “I should be happy”. What I wish I could have said was “I am happy”. I wish I could have better masked that I was so unhappy. I wasn’t a newcomer to what was coming after delivery and I thought I was well prepared, or as prepared as I could be.

I thought that because I didn’t have postpartum depression after I had my third baby, which was right at the beginning of the shutdowns due to Covid, then this time around I would be ok. However, I don’t believe I fully allowed myself to fully take in all that had happened. I didn’t fully allow myself to feel the fear of giving birth to my third during new lockdowns and procedures, or really feel the panic of seeing bare shelves at the markets. Also, when my third was nine months old, we lost my father to kidney disease. Although these two major events slammed down on my mental health, I threw my feelings to the back burner. I had to have a strong, calm face for my children, especially when it came to going out and not letting them see me worry for their health because of Covid. I didn’t want my kids to see me break, I needed to be strong for them, plus I still had to keep my household running.

When we were discharged, I started feeling the familiar sense of postpartum depression and I tried pulling myself up but I was already so deep in I didn’t even want to pray! I couldn’t even bring myself to begin the prayer. Nothing. Every single emotion, fear, and anxious thought had whirled together and had been combined with unbalanced hormones and pure exhaustion. This is when I developed the worst postpartum depression I had ever met. I truly believe this is where God brought me to the very end of myself so I can depend on Him.

My husband kept checking in on me on our 2-hour drive home from the hospital and I kept telling him, “I’m tired, but I’m okay.” When we got home, that was my answer a lot. I started going into these haze-like trances where I could hear and see my surroundings but couldn’t pull myself out to engage. It felt like my eyes would hyper-fixate on an object and everything else would be blurry, unable to see anything else. My husband started noticing that and would say “you look out of it, are you ok?” To which I would reply “I am out of it, but I’m trying”. I couldn’t enjoy my kids or the new baby. People would come over and I would just sit there like an emotionless statue. Unable to interact with the real world. I was beginning to become distraught with all these internal emotions. However, I was extremely comforted knowing that my husband noticed me and was trying his best to care for me. I know without his help I would have floated even further into the middle of my depression.

My sister came over and, although I was so excited to have her company and the help she offered, having so many people around me was all of the sudden overwhelming and I zoned out quite often. I was doing it so much that she noticed as well. Let me just say that prior to her visit, people would ask if I was ok and I would respond with the typical “yes, just tired!” and they would be ok with that response. But not my big sis. No, she knew I was not ok, and she persisted. I finally started crying and telling her about my feelings, things that I had been too afraid to speak into the air. She and my mom immediately prayed over me.

Their prayers over me and the constant care my husband gave me for my mental health really helped me get to a point that I could open up to God and I finally broke. I was showering, and I just began sobbing and allowed myself to feel everything I had been blocking and I prayed and just fully gave everything to Him. I broke down, and I knew I was at the bottom, of the bottom, of rock bottom. I clung harder to Him than I ever had and I haven’t let go.

I couldn’t have done this without God. He strategically placed people in my life, for that particular time, to help me get out of the darkest of holes. They helped me by lifting me in prayer and stood in the gap for me until I was able to fully trust God and give Him all my worries. If you know a new mother, I ask that this Mother’s Day, really ask how they are doing. Listen to how they respond. If they just say “I’m ok”, give them time to keep going. If they are ready to open up, be patient and keep praying for them and keep checking on them. Being seen during this time was such a big blessing and more helpful than any bouquet or gift I could have received. Love on her, and just let her know you’re there, but most importantly, pray with and for her!

Brittany Plancarte has a B.S in Criminal Justice. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to four wonderful children. She has always found comfort in expressing her feelings in the written form.

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