Thursday, February 19, 2009

If Walls Could Tattle

I'm so excited to be a part of Patterings Friday Fiction today! I haven't done so in quite awhile. I've been working on this story on and off in my spare time for over six months, and it's finally finished! I pray it reaches the heart of a family that needs the message it has to offer...

For more great fiction, go knock on Yvonne's Back Door. She's hosting the story-telling this week.

If Walls Could Tattle…

I always knew my bedroom closet was small, but now its walls were closing in on me. It was as though the blouses hung there only to smother me, the belts to strangle me.

What is wrong with me? How did I get here? I could hear the baby screaming in the next room, but she sounded miles away. Echoes of “Mom?” “MOM!” “Where are you, Mom?” came from the voice of my preschooler, but his voice was getting farther away, almost to the place where I could hear the Sesame Street theme song.

I just need a few minutes. Pleeease, Lord, please give me a few minutes. “God, what is happening to me?” I whined.

In double time, the activities from the week gone-by sprinted through my mind. I sat curled up and hunched over my knees on the floor, shoving the stinky shoes as far away from me as I could with my fists.

My heart was racing as I recalled each day, though I don’t know why. I spoke at a MOPS event on Monday. Couldn’t have gone better. Tuesday was Amber’s 18-month immunizations. Lots of tears, but no side effects like Joey had at her age. Wednesday, laundry and church. Now what happened on Thursday? Thursday was a blur, and my heart began to race faster. Thursday…was that yesterday?…Oh, I talked to my mother on the phone, then a nap. Or maybe that was two days ago…

I tried to breathe deeply, but I couldn’t drink in enough oxygen. A pain went through my forehead, while the pounding and thumping of my heart continued. Now the phone was ringing. I wanted to get up, but couldn’t. I heard my mother’s voice over the answering machine in the room beside me.

“Lori, hey, this is Mom. This is the third time I’ve called, and I tried your cell phone too. Are you okay? I’m starting to get worried. Please call me.”

I wanted to pick up, but knew I couldn’t. She’ll think I can’t handle being a momagain.

Joey was nearer than before. “Mom, where are you?”

Bare footsteps squeaked on the floor next to the closet. It was as if he could hear me breathing. Then a trio of knocks tapped on the door.


“Just a second, Honey,” I squeezed out of my falsetto voice, the only way I could fake a calm.

“Gramma, I found her. She’s in the closet, just a second.”

I heard him plunk the phone down on the bathroom counter and then tiptoe clumsily out of the room. Why did he have to pick up the phone? Pulling myself to my knees, then to my feet, I steadied my stance against the closed door. I took a deep breath to calm myself for the realities that lay ahead of me as I opened the closet door. The piercing sounds of Amber’s cries, no longer muffled, shot straight to my nerve endings. 

“Hello?” The mirror in front of me reflected a plastic smile, but it couldn’t reveal my bitterness toward this unwanted phone conversation. “Yes, Mom, I’m fine.” I combed through my matted, tangled hair with trembling fingers and rushed to comfort the baby. “I was in the closet because I was getting dressed, Mother,” I snipped, nearing Amber’s room.

It was as if I were fifteen again, and no one in the world could understand me. Not even me. But especially my mother, I thought. Her words fell on deaf ears. “How long has the baby been crying, Lori? Has she eaten? You know you’ve got to feed her more often than you did Joey, right? She’s not like Joey. Each child is unique, Lori.”

“Um-huh,” I said, trying my best to ignore the experience I detested in her. I knew I could never measure up to her perfection.

“Lori, are you listening? You know I love you, right? Is Dave helping you around the house? I’m worried you might have post-partum depression, Hon. Do you feel sad and overwhelmed?”

What would she know about overwhelmed? “No, Mom,” I huffed, “I’m not sad, and I’m not overwhelmed.” I bounced Amber up and down across my chest, nearly gagging over a whiff of her reeking diaper.

Joey walked in and handed me a remote control. “Mom, I can’t understand the TV. Can you fix it?” The sound of Spanish voices blared from the next room. “Hurry, Mom, I’m missing the best part,” he whined, pinching his nose to avoid the smell.

Interrupting her unsolicited expertise, I announced, “Mom, I’m gonna let you go. I gotta fix the TV and change a diaper, okay?” I paced back and forth as she droned on. “No, I don’t need your help. I’m fine. You just called at a busy time, that’s all. But I really need to go. I’ll call you later.”

Before she could start her next sentence, I handed the phone back to Joey, and I fought back the tears.


Two more of Joey’s favorite shows had passed, as well as two more tantrums from my toddler. And now the only sobs I could hear were my own. The bedroom closet, which held close my secrets of overwhelming sadness, had now become my closest companion.

Author's note: If you need help with postpartum depression, PLEASE stop lying to yourself, and do NOT hide. Your husband, a family member, your church, a licensed Christian counselor or a reputable doctor can help you find a solution. Even if you have not had postpartum with previous children, it can happen. I know, because it happened to me...

Also, I'd be happy to pray for you or even share my personal story if you need extra encouragement. Just press the "Email Me" button on my blog sidebar.

In the Key of HE,

22 friends shared a comment:

Dee Yoder said...

Oh wow, Laura. I have a friend who had postpartum with her very first child and we didn't know what it was! (I hadn't had a child yet). I just remember the constant tears and she couldn't get out of do anything. I'll never forget the weeping that she could NOT stop...even just talking to me. In the '70's (when this happened), no one talked about postpartum at all. It was scary and I felt very helpless as her friend. I hope mother's have a better way to deal with this by now! Thanks for posting this important story.

Kim @ Homesteader's Heart said...

My friend ,that is going to speak volumes to someone I just know it! Postpartum is so serious but people don't think it is. Bless you for this story!!
Big hugs my friend. Love you!

Denise said...

Woo Hoo, this is fabulous my friend, you so bless me.

Yvonne Blake said...

Dear Lord, I pray that this helps some mother today, that she will admit that she needs help and seeks it. Amen

Sita said...

I had post-partum depression for an entire year with my first son. I barely remember that year. I often tell him I wish I could go back to that year to cuddle and adore him. He was the most adorable and 'easy' God knew. I was more with it with my second son, but the depression has now become cyclical. In our culture, 'depression' is not recognized as a legitimate 'illness' I felt an enormous guilt for not being able to 'suck it up.'
Peter Stone's blog has given me more understanding over an area that fills me with guilt.
Great story. Pray it ministers.

Joanne Sher said...

Oh wow. So powerful, and I'm with you - I pray this reaches the family who needs it. Powerful.

Sherri Ward said...

Living with depression is difficult for anyone, but it's especially tragic when little ones are involved. Well done!

Sara Harricharan said...

Wow. This is so sad. One of your best pieces yet.

LauraLee Shaw said...

I also have cyclical depression, but it is not as severe as it used to be. Peter Stone's blog has been a source of encouragement for me as well. He's lived it, studied it, obeyed it and been healed from it. Anyone struggling with depression would be blessed by checking it out:
When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong
Thanks for sharing.

Laurie Ann said...

LauraLee, what a powerful story.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to read this story as fiction since its reality in my life. But I am thrilled to see more people sharing their journey to make PPD more recognized. Thank you for the resource in Peter Stone. Today I wrote about a new book that deals with treatment.

Unknown said...

Powerful story. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!

Julie Arduini said...

Laura, this is a topic so close to my heart, and I've written on it too. It is the most suffocating, paralyzing thing--I believe with you this story is meant for someone and will give them hope.

Great job.

Shelley Ledfors said...

Wow. Powerful story. Bless you for writing it! I'm sure it was led, and the Lord will use it to help someone who needs to read it.

Terri Tiffany said...

Great job! My daughter never slept as a baby (or so it seemed) and the tiredness and weariness grew until one night I thought I would die--thank the dear Lord for a husband who knew it was time to step in and help. We hired a woman so I could sleep and what a difference it made--no mom should be afraid to ask for help--we all need it.
And yes, I've hidden in my closet years ago too!

Unknown said...

This is powerful. I remember the absolute desperation after weeks of babies screaming and screaming, and no sleep, and babies screaming and screaming, and the guilt of not being able to feel warm fuzzy feelings toward the screamer...

That was one big advantage of the way things were done in the old days, when people lived in extended family groups. Mom and Grandma and sisters and aunts were all there to help in such times. And yet even when they are there, it can be hard to admit that we need them...

Thanks for this very easy-to-relate-to story. It brought back a lot of feelings.

Patty Wysong said...

Wow, Laura. Just wow. This is such an important story!

BethL said...

This is such a heart-wrenching condition. Your title is perfect. Thanks for writing this LaLee, ...praying someone may be blessed and helped by reading this.

Peter Stone said...

Thanks for sharing this, Laura. I felt the pain, the anguish, the bewilderment so clearly. It hurt just reading it, and it is heartbreaking to know so many suffer from this, and often without the support they need. PPD is so powerful, so real, yet nothing to feel guilty about, but as you pointed out, needs to be treated.

Yvonne Blake said...

I love the new look!

My grandfather's pet peeve was when people left out the "selah" when they read the Psalms. He'd say, "I'm not sure what it means, but it's there for a purpose, so read it!" He'd even stand up and say it while visiting another church.
As a kid, I was embarrassed, but now I have a great respect for him standing up for his convictions, even if it made him look like a crazy old man. *sigh* I miss my grandfather.

Laury said...

Wow! Great story, Laura. I never had postpartum depression but can certainly relate to melt-downs. Thank you for bringing up this topic.

AND I love your new blog design! Wow!

Hoomi said...

Love the new look.

Nice job of illustrating how the depression leaves one feeling like the only one in the world. Very effective and moving story.