Monday, April 4, 2016

a little something personal.

This is totally unlike me, to blast my personal life on the internet.

"um...hello, have a blog and relentlessly post pictures of your (insanely adorable) kids day in and day out." 

I know, I know. But truly, it is. I am actually quite private when it comes to the sustenance, the weighted parts of the life David and I have created together with our little ones. We aren't secretive, but more so careful about oversharing the personal, intimate details of our lives (trust me though, its not like our lives are that interesting). We try hard to protect our marriage, and our family. For us, that means working through things going on in our lives together, and reaching out to our closest friends and family when we are in need of more.

Our family motto is "live light" (does anyone else have a "family motto"? *crickets*). So we make a conscious effort to focus on the positive, to be glass half full people. I'm good at it. It is a strength of mine that has helped me quite a bit through the ups and downs of life. At this point (and for the majority of my life, truthfully) it isn't forced. It doesn't take a second thought, really. It is just my mindset. Another contributing factor, is that overall I am just not a very emotional person. David and I joke that he is the more emotional one of the two of us. I guess I just don't often find myself getting emotional about many things. I am more of a tough love, lets just move on, it is what it is, kind of person. But, when David and I do choose to share intimate details of our lives, whether be it about our marriage, parenthood, etc., it is for one of two reasons: we are seeking advice from someone we really respect and trust, or we believe what we are sharing will benefit the conversation and (hopefully) encourage whoever we are speaking with. Outside of those times, we try to "live light", and just enjoy our time with each other, our friends, family...whoever we are spending time with. We love laughing and creating fun memories.

Recently (and not so recently...more on that later) I have walked through something that fell into a category of its own. Something I was totally unprepared for and unable to deal with on my own, with David, or with my closest friends and family. It was out of everyones abilities to help me, despite their best efforts, encouragement, and help. After Penny was born, I felt totally different. I chalked it up to being a new mother, and just getting used to a totally new life. I had this absolutely incredible daughter, whom I adored. She was the sweetest, happiest little darling. She was as easy as babies could possibly come. She slept through the night early on, and constantly had a smile on her face. She ate well and cried minimally. She was the textbook baby when it came to milestones. It was incredible. Through it all, I struggled emotionally. I had this easy as pie baby, but I constantly felt overwhelmed. I was anxious, overwhelmed, and just had this feeling of misery that I couldn't shake. It was all totally unwarranted. There was no basis for my feelings. Don't get me wrong, I adored my daughter. I was able to adore her, love her, and just appreciate the amazing little human God blessed me with. But I was unable to control so much of what was going on in my own head.

People would, of course, ask me how being a mom was, how the baby was. I could truthfully say she was incredible. She was a great baby, she was making it easy on me. But I was still working on getting used to being a mom, and was essentially trying to "tough love" myself. The formerly minimally emotional girl that I had been, was all of the sudden flooded with a constant stream of emotions that I just didn't know how to deal with. It was all incredibly foreign to me. I got to the point where I felt as though I had essentially numbed myself to myself. I felt very much like a shell. Watching my sweet little girl grow up and ogling over her, admiring her, being so proud of her, and absolutely adoring her, but having a constant fog over my own life. I felt completely inadequate. I felt like I was falling short, and failing my little girl. On top of all of that, and the worst of it all, was the guilt. The insurmountable guilt over feeling all of this was overwhelming. It consumed me.

Then I found out we were expecting our sweet little boy! Again, David and I were over the moon! We couldn't believe it. But I was also incredibly terrified of feeling how I (still) was feeling, but it somehow being even more intense. I mean, that made sense to me...more children, stronger emotions. Right? I was barely able to enjoy my second pregnancy. It took me a full day or two after he was born before I actually bonded with him, because I had spent the entire time worrying about how on earth I was going to handle experiencing motherhood times 2. Because this is how motherhood felt, right? This was normal, but me being fairly unemotional prior to becoming a mom, I just wasn't used to it. And I was just still getting used to it, but had a long, long way to go. For the first month or so after he was born, I actually felt pretty good. I attribute that now to my hormones at the time. Being a mom to two kids so close together was so much easier than I had imagined. I thought to myself that I wish I had known so I would have been able to enjoy my pregnancy. During this first month, both my husband and mom, on two separate occasions came to me with the same thought. They saw the immediate, stark difference between me after each pregnancy and believed I had been depressed after Penny was born. I agreed.

After that first month or so, though, I went back to feeling like I had been. I couldn't fathom why. I would be sitting there on the sofa, watching my sweet girl love on her happy little brother. Both so content and happily playing with one another, yet I would still feel overwhelmed. My daughter would be laughing at something and my son would be chewing on a teething ring, both so happy, and I would feel inadequate, overwhelmed, strained. etc. Again, totally unwarranted feelings based on how life was actually going, which was incredibly well. In the back of my head I felt I knew what was going on, but for reasons I will go into later, I subdued those thoughts. David noticed I wasn't myself, again. He noticed I cried more since I had become a mom, beyond a normal, healthy amount. He noticed I adored our kids, but that I had changed and wasn't totally myself since they were born.

Then there was a breaking point, when Penny was 18 months old, and Wes was 3 months. I had been crying again, uncontrollably, and just said it to David: "I think I have Postpartum Depression". we immediately left the kids with Meghan and went in the car to have some time together. He said he would call my doctor for me. He did right then, and our sweet nurse from all my OB appointments answered. David told him what was going on and I could hear her say through the phone "oh no, not Mckenzie". so sympathetically and caring, I knew I had a great doctor and nurses to work through this with. They referred me to a Doctor who specialized in diagnosing and working with women who have PPD. I had my appointment with her shortly thereafter, and I started on medication that day. I was diagnosed with pretty severe case of PPD, ongoing for 18 months, unmedicated. What ate me alive the most after the diagnosis (before the medication kicked in, which takes 4-6 weeks) was the guilt. I sobbed constantly over the fact that it took me a year and a half to recognize what was going on inside of me. To realize it wasn't normal, to know it could have all been avoided had I recognized it early on, that I could have fully enjoyed the first 18 months of my daughters life and the first 3 months of my sons had I known earlier. Second only to the guilt, was another worry that plagued me. I was worried that people would see me as a fraud. That people wouldn't understand that the feelings of being so head over heels in love with your children can coexist with the conflicting feelings that PPD brings with it. I was worried that people wouldn't see my children as the same children that I had described them as, that I had told people about. That they would think that if I had issues going on that seemed so buried within me, that my children couldn't possibly be as wonderful as I had presented them as...but they were, and they are. God blessed me with such incredible children to be mine, and my issues are no reflection of who they are as individuals. That is something I learned once the medicine fully kicked in. They are wonderful, joyful, kind, sweet little treasures with a mama who adores them more than life itself.

Medication helps me feel exactly as my doctor said it would: She promised I would be able to fully enjoy my kids (I do!) and feel as I did pre-children (I do!) I have difficult days, but I totally attribute them to normal motherhood. I am able to roll my eyes at the hard moments and I haven't cried in much too long ;)

I felt the idea for writing this out and sharing it creep in for a month or so now, and pushed it out time and time again. Because, like I mentioned before, I truly don't enjoy getting emotional. I enjoy protecting my own little world, and I didn't want the possible attention/pity/judgement that could come with it. Truthfully, the thought of that all made (makes, maybe?) my skin crawl. It goes against what comes naturally to me. But, shortly after I was diagnosed, I felt I needed to share this with my bible study group, and my closest friends/family. I didn't want to, I truly don't enjoy that sort of attention. But I knew I needed the prayers that support system would provide. Though getting the words out in a room full of people, even though they were people I love, was incredibly difficult. They of course were all so supportive and wonderful through it all. I get regular checkups from sweet friends and family seeing how I am doing. And even more wonderful, is that I have had a handful of women approach me saying they struggled with the same thing, or that they were encouraged to begin medication after hearing me share with them. Everyone knows PPD exists, though until recently I didn't know anyone who actually had it. People don't like talking about it, because the feeling of shame is overwhelming when you are walking through it. But I loved knowing there were a couple of women who found some encouragement from hearing about my experience. Sharing it was truly the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted my own little support system to walk through it with me and protect my own privacy from anything beyond that, but I felt a nudge to share a bit more publicly in hopes that the shame that someone else could be feeling may be lessened by knowing it happens. It happens, and it is totally out of our control.

If you made it this far, first off: Congratulations, your eyes probably need a break to de-glaze from the computer screen. And second: Thank you for being interested in my little story, I really appreciate it!


  1. So important for you to share. Went through it after John - most frightening time of my life until I finally was able to express to someone. Thankfully she had been through it. That's the worst part -we are afraid and ashamed to tell anyone. This is something young moms need to hear! God bless you for being vulnerable and willing to share!

  2. Oh, McKenzie... What an honor it is to be a part of your life even if it's just through Facebook. We've known each other since you were in high school and I was just a peewee fourth/fifth grader, and I have always admired your outlook on life. Thank you for sharing this part of you! Moms of all ages need to hear this kind of vulnerability and I applaud you for going against the grain and communicating how this process has gone for you. Seriously, thank you for sharing! You are a beautiful daughter of the King, fully known and still fully loved.

  3. Hey McKenzie, what a brave thing to do. I have such tremendous respect for you and David because of your honesty. This is just one example of many where you guys have shown how tough you can be. Mad props for your fearless way of using your story to help others. Please reach out if we can ever help, we take that as an invitation to get closer to you guys!

  4. Thanks for sharing, McKenzie and just being real! Prayers for you sweet friend.

  5. thanks for being vulnerable enough to share this with us. I'm a therapist and pregnant AND have struggled with depression so I worry I'll have to fight ppd too. Thanks for talking about it. It's something not shared enough and I think you've been incredibly brave.

    Also thinking you may enjoy reading/listening to Brene Brown. She's a leading researcher on shame and vulnerability and has some really good stuff.

  6. It's always a tough thing to share something so vulnerable, but there is absolutely no shame to be had in a chemical imbalance you can't control. More power to you for sharing! The important thing is you acknowledged the change and got help. It took me quite awhile to come to terms with my own depression diagnosis 3 years ago, but that feeling of getting back to normal (as possible) really makes it all worth it. You're a tough cookie and a great mom, from what I see creeping on social media :) Never doubt your abilities and never let depression make you feel inadequate. You are anything but.