The day I found out I was pregnant I became a mother. Instantly my life was no longer my own and I was elated! We had a baby on the way! Wow. I felt honored I was chosen to carry the little life that was growing inside of my womb. For months I bought clothes, decorated the nursery, crafted baby books, tirelessly looked over our registry, and celebrated time and time again the coming of this sweet little girl that was going to enter the world.
On January 27, 2018 at 8 p.m. I went into labor. My husband and I rushed to the hospital where I was admitted and given a room. We were excited we were finally at the end of a 41-week pregnancy and only labor stood in the way of us welcoming our girl earth side. After 20 hours of a ridiculously hard labor, Ella was born via emergency c-section at 4:39 p.m., January 28, 2018. Giving birth was harder than I imagined it would be but whew – it was over, and I finally had this beautiful darling girl…..and she didn’t feel like mine at all.
Visitors came. They ooed and awed over Ella. And I just sat there in a haze. I hadn’t had time yet to process all my body had gone through as well as all of the responsibility that was suddenly placed on my shoulders. We went home 3 days later and I entered my own personal hell.
Birth did not go as planned. Breastfeeding was not going as planned. Bonding was not going as planned. I did not emotionally feel the way I had planned. Three weeks went by and I continued to decline. I was sitting in a metaphorical pit blocked out any light or happiness from entering in. I started googling things like ‘Is it normal to cry all the time after having a baby?’, ‘Is it normal to hate your baby?’, etc. Search result after search result pulled up ‘Postpartum Depression’. I began to read articles and symptom lists and mentally check every box for ‘Yep! That’s me.’
I uttered the words to my mom (who had graciously been staying with us), ‘I think I have postpartum depression.’ We talked about it some and decided I would talk to my OBGYN when I went for my next postpartum checkup. But little did I know I wouldn’t be able to make it until then. The next day, my mom was going to leave to go home and I begged her not to. I was terrified of what I would do to Ella if I was left alone with her. I was terrified of myself.
The next day landed me in ER after confessing to my husband I was homicidal towards Ella and starting to become suicidal as well. There I was prescribed my first antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications. Though the medications helped some they were not ‘curing’ me. Things got worse and eventually spiraled out of control.
I woke up on a perfectly sunny Tuesday in March of 2018. And I instantly regretted it. My tired and sleep deprived soul whispered, ‘Why Lord? Why did you not take me in the night like I asked you to?’ Nonetheless, I willed myself to get out of bed’ because my 8-week-old baby is downstairs with my mom. As I crept down the stairs, dread filling me with every step, I finally see my baby and mother asleep on the couch in the living room.
I sit down.
I lose it.
My soul screams, ‘Lord, if you didn’t take me couldn’t you have at least taken my baby?! I can’t look at her, Lord. I can’t stand her!’
Guilt enters. UGH!! I suck as a mother. Who in the heck would ever think that towards their child? I mean, I’m supposed to be the one protecting her, right? And here I am wishing she would die. And not even just wishing but desperately begging for God to kill her. What’s wrong with me?
I move to the kitchen.
My mom walks in.
I begin to make tea, because I need the sweet caffeine to wake my body up. Trying to get a grip on reality I think, ‘Okay, okay. If I can just wake up, maybe all of these horrible thoughts will go away. Surely I was just sleepy and my mind wouldn’t betray me the way it was. I love my child. I think…I hope… Oh, good grief – I feel like I hate her.’
Mom asks, ‘How did you sleep?’ I sit with my teacup in the floor and begin to sob. I explain to her I didn’t sleep because my mind was racing about how much I wished I could die. Oh no, oh no, oh no……. here it comes. Everything becomes a weapon. The kitchen knives, the medicine in my cabinet just 3 feet away, the cars driving by the front of the house, the drill in the shed, the hammer in the pantry. If I could just get my hands on one of those things.
Hyperventilating, I excuse my self to the back porch, hoping the warm sunshine would enable me to feel something other than hate. Other than guilt. Other than deep, deep sadness. ‘God please take me. Please. Please, I’m begging you. Take me.’ I can’t live like this anymore. It’s not that I didn’t want to live anymore…It’s that I did not want to live like this anymore. I did not want to live feeling anything but love towards my daughter, I didn’t want to live dreading each passing day, I didn’t want to live in my little townhome scared out of my mind of what I might do to my baby. I needed to remove the threat. I needed to remove myself. I was a burden. A burden I needed to take into my own hands. A burden the world, my world, would be better off without.
I can’t live like this anymore.
I went on to get more medical help. My mother – who was scared out of her mind – called my husband to come home from work. When he got home they loaded me up in the car and took me to the ER. I went reluctantly, begging them to take me back home. I didn’t want to be thought of as ‘crazy’. I didn’t want everyone to know the joyful, outgoing, Jesus loving, bubbly girl they knew had gone bat-crap-crazy.
There, they ‘tranquilized’ me and put me to sleep. After that they recommended I spend a few days in a mental health facility. Up until that day, I had never contemplated suicide in my life. I had never so desperately wished I could die. But after they stabilized me at the hospital we went home with a different safety plan in place to try and pull me out of this debilitating depression.
The very next day from my ER stay, I hit rock bottom, medicine wasn’t working, therapy wasn’t working, doctors weren’t working, ‘self care’ wasn’t working. Again I wanted to die. And maybe even more desperately than I had the day before. That night, I looked at my husband and barely got out the words, ‘I want Jesus.’ You see, I either wanted to go be with Him or for Him to show up and heal me because MAN. I. Just. Couldn’t. Go. On.
My husband had his mom pray for me. She laid hands on me as I wept face down on the floor and the Holy Spirit showed up. My mother-in-law started speaking in her heavenly language and I had a vision of Jesus telling me, ‘Aly, I see you and I’m not going to leave you like this.’ INSTANTLY I felt healed. And my husband and mother-in-law knew it. I hadn’t even sat up and said anything, but they knew in their bones God had healed me, and they began praising Him. I sat up and they handed Ella to me, and for the first time in her teeny-weeny life I felt love for her. Genuine, motherly love. And I knew THIS was how I was supposed to feel. THIS is what being a mother was like. THIS is that overwhelming love I was supposed to experience. It was like I was experiencing becoming a mother all over again. And y’all I know how crazy that sounds. But let me tell you – my God IS crazy in the best way. My healing path may not be yours but I know you can also find it.
I have genuinely been fine ever since that moment. I don’t know what happened but I have been healed, and what’s more, I’ve been given a new passion to shed light on all perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. I have gone on to create an organization (www.ppdjourney.com) that shed’s light on the darkest illnesses, shares stories of survivors, and creates community for women walking this path. Whatever helps you, medication, faith, therapy…I want to help and share your journey.
Praise God people were present in my darkest moment with PPD. Praise God my mother had the foresight to call my husband home because she knew she couldn’t handle me on her own. Thank God two of the most important people in my life carried me when I couldn’t bear the thought of taking another step. I am GRATEFUL I am still here and out of the fog of PPD. I am grateful I now get to enjoy the blessing my sweet girl is. I am grateful for the mercy that was shown to me in my darkest hour.
**This story was written by Aly Thayer and originally appeared on Love What Matters. Used with permission. See more from Aly’s journey and other PPD stories on her website, or connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.