by Geneva Eby
I sit down to write these words with my baby girl snuggled beside me. She’s a slobbering, giggling, big blue-eyed chunk of love. And the fact that she’s here, that I’m here, is nothing short of love.
In late September, I slipped outside into the cool, evening mist, alone. I walked (or waddled) slowly, wishing the contractions would start. Longing to hold my baby in my arms. It was then I saw a piece of litter that caused me to stop and mourn. The box was labeled Plan B. I felt my heart constrict because this child that was kicking me from the inside could have caused me to buy that exact same box.
In an instant, I was back in my bathroom staring at those two distinct lines on the pregnancy test. I was walking downstairs with shaking hands and a pounding heart, telling Chad it was positive. I was thinking, “Can I really do this again?”
I had just watched my oldest daughter blow out those two candles stuck in her cupcake. As the flames flickered and died, I felt relief wash over me. I had made it. I had survived the darkness called postpartum depression.
My first eighteen months of mothering nearly broke me. I woke up every morning wondering why it was so hard, unsure if I could face the blackness one more day. I read the Bible more. I strapped Vienna in her stroller and took walks. I swallowed vitamins, but nothing changed the fact that I was drowning in my own life. I told no one. Depression thrives in silence.
Finally, I choked out the truth in the dark. I told my husband I didn’t want to live. He held me. I sobbed, because good, Christian women aren’t supposed to say things like that. But how could I keep going when every single breath was a battle?
I scheduled an appointment and talked to a kind doctor. I did the hardest, bravest thing and filled the prescription. And slowly, slowly the light started to leak back in. The crazy thing about depression is that you don’t realize how low you were until you start to heal. You begin to think the darkness is normal. You forget what it feels like to have the light shine warm on your skin.
Six months later, when I realized our little Shiloh was on her way, I felt so much fear. Although I knew wholeness and joy again, my heart had not forgotten the darkness and pain. I felt so scarred by the memories of Vienna’s newborn days. How could I possibly repeat that again with another baby?
As the stretch marks darkened to crimson and tiny feet wedged under ribs, I clung to the mental picture of expecting grace. My child grew and stretched me to the fullest. Grace never stops expanding to carry us through. I barely recognized myself in the mirror. Grace reshapes us in the very best ways. I knew she would leave her marks on me long after she left me. When grace gets a hold of us, we are never the same. As I bore down and pushed her out into light, grace unfurled and surrounded us all. They placed her in my arms and I couldn’t stop crying. I was cradling living, breathing proof that grace is real.
I thought I knew what grace was, but the grace that held me through an unexpected pregnancy is an ocean. I’ve only begun to wade out into its depths.
I am a wife to Chad and mommy to Vienna and Shiloh. My days involve reading many books, handing out lots of snacks, and applying band-aids to all the little ouchies. And when my girls fall asleep, I stare at their beautiful faces and then I write. I process the beautiful and hard things of life through words. Occasionally, I blog at genevaeby.blogspot.com and I love connecting with new people on Instagram, @genevaeby.