My husband and I started dating almost nine years ago now and he made me his wife on a perfect November Saturday six and a half years later surrounded by all of the most important people in our world and, unbeknownst to all but two of our bridesmaids, the teeny-tiny surprise in my womb that we had learned of only three weeks prior to our wedding.
Now, I was a woman prone to depressive episodes and periods of high anxiety long before my son was born and well before I met my husband. My husband didn’t know what he was getting into when he saw me dancing and drinking cheap beer at the Tim McGraw concert all of those years ago but I managed to lasso him in anyways and the rest, as they say, is Xanax-laden history. They don’t say that?
If you asked my husband about my anxiety and depression before our son was born he would probably ask you what you meant; he would probably tell you (lovingly, I’m sure) that I’ve always been a little nuts but that I hadn’t ever been sick before our son was born. The postpartum depression that hit me after our son was born hit like a train. It was the worst I had ever felt before multiplied by atleast ten. It was a bottomless, never-ending pit of despair…and, trust me, I don’t use that word lightly.
Newlyweds. We were still newlyweds when our son was born, despite our having been together for many years by that point. My husband, this first time father with so very little experience around children, left the hospital with a tiny infant who cried incessantly and a broken wife and no other option but to carry us both. So that’s what he did; he carried us. For months.
I’ve said many times since becoming healthy that I think that real, amazing growth happens when you get to the other side of hurt and pain if you let it. My son will turn two this summer and when I think back on the first few months after his birth, it pains me to think of how miserable I felt in his presence but that’s not what I let myself latch onto. When I think back on those first few months after his birth, I think about the complete and utter grace that his father showed to the both of us. I think back to his patience, his gentle voice, his kind hands and all of the weight he took off of my plate and onto his own. I think back, trying to remember a time when he once raised his voice or showed frustration toward his incapacitated wife and I can’t because there wasn’t one time when he allowed those frustrations to come through to me. I think back to how many times in that first year of our son’s life that I looked at my husband and thought to myself “I knew you would be good. I never dreamed you would be this good. I have never, ever loved you more.”
Real, amazing growth happens when you get to the other side of hurt and pain. My love for my son and for my husband is stronger not in spite of but because of my postpartum depression. I could spend the rest of my life being sad that our journey went that way and I wouldn’t wish postpartum depression on my worst enemy, but it is part of our journey and it is part of our story so every day I will choose to embrace the light that came out of that darkness.
When you look closely, there are many more repaired cracks now than there were when my husband came upon me dancing at the Tim McGraw concert nine years ago. Truth be told, I’m probably still a much more fragile version of that young girl but my husband stuck it out and I still like cheap beer so some things never change.