In Sickness and in Health

Within a week after I gave birth to E, J was offered a job in the city. We had just purchased a home far beyond the suburbs, thinking we would live our home schooling, self employed, home birthing lives apart from the majority of civilization. Suddenly, we found ourselves trading that in for a steady paycheck, health insurance, 3 hour commutes and 18 hour workdays. He virtually disappeared overnight.

Meanwhile, something wasn't right with baby E. He wouldn't sleep. He couldn't be put down. He nursed constantly, but seemed to be in unbearable pain within minutes of finishing. He cried. All. The. Time. 

I found myself operating on the barest moments of sleep, confused by the feelings of protectiveness and resentment that swirled within myself. My mother and I frantically searched the internet and medical texts for clues as to what might be wrong. We took him to doctors. We prayed. The consensus seemed to be that he suffered from sever and painful GERD. The doctors shrugged their shoulders and said there was nothing they could do. He'd grow out of it in a year.
Trying to remember that year is like probing my fingers along the walls of a dark cave. I come away with a knowledge of the basic structure, but mostly its an impenetrable darkness. E could only obtain brief reprieves from the pain if I held him, stomach to stomach, as I reclined on a chair or in bed with mounds of pillows behind me. In this manner, we could snatch 20 minutes of rest at a time. I remember him crying, that high pitch shriek that made it so difficult to continue to hold and rock him. I remember tearful phone calls to the doctor, pleading for some kind of help. I remember eventually going numb to it all.

The doctors were right, he did eventually grow out of it. {Though he still suffers from food aversions and is underweight as a result.} I had been telling myself all along that in a year, things would be better. J would be working less. E would be sleeping. I would recover. But a year came and went, and I seemed to be sinking ever deeper into a deep, black place.

I'll admit that at one time, I thought {a bit smugly} that I had done J a large favor by sticking with him during that first crisis in our marriage. Needless to say, if that kind of wrong thinking held true, I was now deeply in his debt for how he stuck by me during my depression. To this day, I cannot compose the words to describe the hell that I descended in to. Nor my relief at my deliverance.

It came to a head at Easter time. We took a trip to visit family, and I couldn't bring myself to act even relatively normal. I cried and cried. J was helpless, and coped by photographing the nearby rail yard. Out of hundreds of photos taken that day, this is the only one we have of Little Miss C.

When we came home, I was forced to see a doctor. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and prescribed anti depressants. At the time, it felt like such a failure. I thought I was being overly dramatic, needing medication to deal with my sadness. But as the days passed and my pain faded, I began to realize that I had unknowingly spent years shrouded in a fog of depression. It was like that scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy steps out of the wreckage of her home to discover a whole world in vivid color. 

It was heavenly. 

We courted. We laughed. We fell in love all over again.It was terrifying to think of giving it all up when a year later, I desperately wanted another baby. 

But this time, I trusted God. I trusted J. And I trusted myself. The three of us were a team. We could overcome anything.

And we have.


LisAway said...

Happy Anniversary! What a great story. I depression is a subject that always gets me teary eyed. I've never experienced it, but a sister and some very close friends have and I just feel awful thinking about how bad it gets. I'm so glad that you found yourself again, and that you made it through another pregnancy without that necessary help. And it sounds like J is a real keeper. Good thing you realized it in time. He's lucky, too!

Kristina said...

Wow, what a story. It's amazing.
My nephew has severe GERD. He's a little over half a year so my sister in law is getting close to the end. But she's exhausted.

Happy anniversary!

Cole said...

I don't remember how or when I found your blog, but I've been reading ever since and the last 2 posts really spoke to me; The first one mirrored exactly the experience I had had during my first year of marriage, and the last one comes at a time where I find myself in the midst of a postpartum depression. It truly helps to know that someone else out there has felt the same things, and they are better now. It gives me hope. Thank you for sharing.

Marci said...

I have loved reading these memories. You write beautifully!

Hizzeather said...

I am loving these vignettes! Keep 'em coming!

Ashley Ann said...

Thank you for sharing. The truth is not always pretty, but it's always beautiful.

Scottkids said...

Agreed with Ashley Ann. You are such an amazing writing too. You always draw me right in.

lawdy said...

Thanks for this post. I know. I've been there too.

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