When my husband Hayden and I got married, he married me because I was strong and confident and life-giving. Our marriage was fun, a breath of fresh air, and truly you couldn’t ask for more. Fast forward to 2013 – we were married for 2 years before having our baby girl Palmer, and the feelings of being pregnant weren’t all I had hoped. Yes, my pregnancy was hard like most are, but childbirth was even harder. I experienced something during childbirth that less than 1% of people experience. It was a traumatic experience where my baby had the potential of not living after birth. But it was such a God thing because I knew, no matter what, I was having this baby. The whole way to the hospital I just kept saying over my body, my home and my family: “God take care of my baby.” You never know fear until you’re at the darkest place of your life wondering, ‘is my child still alive?’ When we got to the hospital, by the grace of God, she had a heartbeat and immediately we had an emergency C-Section. Through trauma, confusion and chaos came such beauty, and her name is Palmer Elsie. It’s true, she’s beauty from the ashes, she’s peace in that storm, and to us, we believed she was the perfect addition to our family. But the enemy had different plans.
You see, after you have a baby, you always envision bliss. I saw this perfect life – of course tired, but beautiful days. Yet, my days were the exact opposite. They were sad, tired, and lonely days. You never look up postpartum depression because no one wants to assume they’d have that. Life was hard. My days were really long, and my nights were even longer because I was tortured with my thoughts of doubt, fear and pure emptiness. I felt like everything my husband loved about me (strong, confident, live-giving), was sucked out of me. The enemy convinced me that everything good in me wasn’t good or helpful to anyone, including my child. I stopped and asked myself, ‘why did I do this?’ ‘Why did I have a baby? Everything was so perfect.” Horrible, right? But it was real. It was my life.
No one told me that having a baby can make you feel so complicated inside afterward. The enemy was using my child to make me believe that sweet Palmer was the one making me this way. There were days where I could feel my happy slowly slip away. You see, anxiety, depression and blood chilling fear inside is something that isn’t accepted in women today because when you admit that, the enemy tells you that you’re weak, unaccepted and rejected. I was embarrassed to talk with my husband, and my sister who’s my best friend about it. Everyone thought I was rocking the mom life, but truthfully, I had nothing. I felt so unworthy to be a mom. I would repeatedly ask God to take care of her for me. Everyone was telling me, “your baby is so cute!” but no one asked me, “are you okay?” and I certainly wouldn’t tell people I wasn’t. I prayed bigger, harder and louder than I had ever prayed before in these moments. During prayer, Isaiah 41:10 would come to me. My favorite part of the verse says, “Do not fear for I AM YOUR GOD.” If happiness was trying to be taken from me, I could speak this verse over in my life. I got stronger the more I was praying but I still battled depression. Truly, I felt like I was so far gone and had done so much damage that no matter how hard I prayed, I wouldn’t be good enough.
And then I went to Unique. In 2015, the biggest song they were playing was “No Longer Slaves” and the chorus brought me to my knees. This was my life! I was a slave to fear. I loved my child, there was no doubt about that, but I was chained to this fear in my life. The lyrics say, “From my mother’s womb you have chosen me, your love has called my name” and in the moment they began singing it, I felt free. I decided then that I was going to start living for God’s plan and not the devil’s plot. God’s plan is for me to be a mom, to love my babies, and to give everything I can to raise them up in a loving home, and the enemy was taking all of it from me. God saved my child, and my life, and the enemy wanted to wreck God’s plan, and I was letting him! At Unique Conference, they played that song multiple times that weekend, and every time I felt lighter and lighter. The women at Unique genuinely wanted to pray with me and wanted what I wanted for myself– healing and freedom. After the last session, I immediately got in the car, and I admitted to being depressed to my family. But I knew now that I wasn’t going back. I wasn’t going to be a slave to fear, but I was going to walk in my identity as a child of God.
A couple years later, when I got pregnant with my second little, I was so scared that I was going to go through the same thing. With my son Ace, I again had a traumatic childbirth. He wasn’t breathing, they were scared he wouldn’t make it. But, I knew God had a different plan. I spoke in confidence saying, “God take care of this baby” and right then, he started crying and breathing on his own. One of the nurses said “You’re so lucky.” But the second nurse said, “That’s not luck, she called God into this room.” People could SEE the power of God from me speaking LIFE in faith of His power to heal my child.
After Ace, I suffered nothing that I did with Palmer– this was the life that I envisioned. It’s all because of the power of prayer. I can look back and see how powerful the enemy is, but I can stand there and see how much bigger God is. I never took the time then to see how God was going to use my story to impact other women who have gone or are going through this. Now, I’m amazed at how God orchestrates those encounters with other women suffering through depression. He took my pain and made me new. He made my story of brokenness into a story of breakthrough. When I open up to people, they have said “I have felt this way for months, how did you get out? ” and I am now able to minister to people through my story. Through all of this, I can’t help but stop and gaze at my healthy children and be in awe of God. To tell you my story is to tell of Him. Whenever you think you’re too deep in depression, or you can’t even get the thoughts out of your head, He’s calling you His child. He has chosen you every day, and continues to choose you. He WANTS to take that from you, will you let Him?”
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10