2019
The Joy and Pain of Motherhood
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The Joy and Pain of Motherhood

Finding strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ during post-natal depression

Being busy with a newborn was nothing new to me. I had four children already so I’ve been around the block a few times. I learned from past experiences not to take on too much when a new baby arrives and having taken time out, believed that everything was fine.

Adalind Stewart arrived on the 25 January 2018. She was a wonderful addition to our family, and I fell instantly in love with her.

The first signs that there was a problem were subtle. I started getting heart palpitations. I had had them before, but they were becoming more and more frequent. Eventually I was having them every day. Whether I was sitting or standing, walking or resting, my heart would race. I told myself that I had just had a new baby and that everything would calm down soon.

One day I went out to the shops. I had planned to be gone only a few minutes but lost track of time and discovered suddenly that I’d been out nearly two and a half hours. That was when the panic set in.

It felt like a million feelings at once. I felt fear that Adalind was screaming for me; fear that I would never get out of the shop; fear that my panic would frighten another daughter who had come with me. My heart was racing so much that I thought I might pass out which only made me panic more.

My fear was the type that you might feel if your car was crashing or if an earthquake had struck; not for simply taking longer to get home than planned.

I managed to calm myself enough to get out of the store and head home. As I drove, I called my husband, Murray, and sure enough,h Adalind was perfectly fine, sleeping peacefully.

After this incident I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with moderate post-natal depression.

Depression is hard to explain.

It’s a sadness, a hollowness at a depth that I’d never felt before. You can be in a room full of people who love you and still feel completely and utterly alone. The emotional pain can be so strong that it manifests physically with things like heart palpitations, chest pains and sleeplessness. During my depression I was irritable and irrational and lost all interest in life in general.

Depression can change even the most fundamental parts of your personality. I have always been a very social person, but I found that even something as simple as taking my daughter to a birthday party was too much. I have always loved to read but for some reason I couldn’t bear the thought of picking up a book.

As your personality changes and you become less and less of who you once were, guilt sets in, guilt at not doing enough or being enough. I have never wanted to take my life, but the relentlessness of the pain led me to moments where I wished to not exist anymore.

In the end, it was my testimony of the plan of happiness that got me through.

To know that there is more than just this life helped me to overcome the darkest moments. I am so grateful that my parents taught me the value of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Establishing that relationship and that testimony in my youth did not prevent the depression but it gave me something to cling to when I was too hollow to feel anything. I knew that regardless of how I was feeling now, I did know that Jesus Christ loved me, and that I would feel that love again, as I had before.

It has been a struggle to rebuild my life. There are still moments of uncontrollable tears but with the help of wonderfully supportive friends and family, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a little professional help, bit by bit, I have felt the spirit touch my heart and fill me with hope once more.

Motherhood is a truly sacred calling; perhaps that is why it comes with so many challenges. Even without post-natal depression it can be hard to feel the sacredness of the calling and very easy to feel guilt or inadequacy.

I know in my heart that these children have been entrusted to me and that Heavenly Father intends for me to succeed as their mother. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ did not leave me, even during my darkest moments when I could not feel His presence. He had suffered all that I suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knows my pain perfectly and knew perfectly how to succour me as I did all I could to fulfil my calling as a mother in Zion.