By Courtney Causey
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I’ve always been what you would call a little wound tight.
I came by this honestly, as persistent worry runs on both sides of my family. However, my anxiety has always been pretty manageable. I’ve always been able to keep it well under wraps. In other words, I’ve been able to “keep my crazy tucked in”. But nothing would prepare me for what I was about to experience after the birth of my son. Tripp was born the morning of April 23, 2014. I had long hoped for a baby and after 40 weeks and 1 day and 22 hours of labor, he laid atop my soft, round belly and I fell more in love than I knew was possible while also feeling completely clueless and overwhelmed. Tripp was at risk for an infection passed through my placenta during birth which meant a short stint in the NICU and he also had severe lip and tongue ties, all of which made breastfeeding a nightmare causing him to gain weight very slowly. It was after my second appointment with the pediatrician for a weight check that my postpartum anxiety began to surface.
Over the next three months, my anxiety would worsen to the point of my fears being palatable and on the verge of debilitating. I constantly agonized over Tripp’s weight gain, and I stubbornly clung to breastfeeding in the midst of low supply when it would have probably been best for all us for me to simply pop in a bottle and rest. I lost what little sleep I needed due to fears that my baby would stop breathing in his sleep. I would jolt awake and then lay my hand across his tiny abdomen to feel his tummy rise and fall only to be reassured for a moment before repeating this whole cycle over and over. This was also about the time that I began to see daily posts on Facebook about the turmoil in Syria and with every post I read about a grieving mother, a tortured child or a committed martyr, I was living out those stories through my own vain imaginations. I started to have fears about car accidents on the highway, dying while I was alone with Tripp, leaving him helpless and afraid, or losing my spouse in a plane crash while he was traveling for work. I worried about cancer, tornados and house fires. Oh, it was awful! And if I’m being really honest, the Lord felt very far away at times.
For months I did my best to conceal all my fears. And can I just say, what a joke. I was not fooling anyone. At about 15 weeks postpartum, while I was sitting in a hot bath, I received a text message from my lactation consultant in response to another worried message about Tripp’s weight and my lack of supply. She kindly and graciously suggested that perhaps it was time for me to talk to my obstetrician about postpartum anxiety. I remember reading those words, my face flush, feeling completely and utterly “found out”. I put the phone down on the bath rug and slinked into the warm bubbly water, wishing I could disappear. Both shame and relief washed over me. Shame because I felt like a weak and broken mama and relief because finally someone confronted me about a real problem with a real name.
I wish that I could sum this all up by saying that the Lord intervened and that healing came quick and miraculous, but I can’t. That’s not this story. It would still be months before I would begin to feel like myself again. And even still, as I am weaning my son, I have hard days where the anxiety takes my breath away. But here is what the Lord did do with this messy season. He took what was shameful to me and made something beautiful out of the ash heap. Beyond the Blue, a postpartum support network, was birthed as I was coming up for air from the crashing waves of postpartum anxiety. What He asked of me was to let go of concealing my shame, my imperfection, my weakness. And when I did I found out I am not alone. If I have any encouragement for you today, it would be this: whatever may be your shameful sore, could very well be the thing that God desires to use to comfort and reach the hurting. And saying our shameful thing out loud loosens our own chains while also freeing those still wrapped up in silent agony. So dear friend, say your shameful thing out loud and by His grace watch Him make a way in the wilderness!
Meet Courtney Causey
I am thrilled to introduce you to my friend, Courtney Causey. I have had the privilege of knowing Courtney for over 10 years. Courtney is a breath of fresh air. She is as authentic as can be, a lover and seeker of the Lord, and is not afraid to take the path less traveled. After reading the post below, I am confident you will see the beauty in her heart radiating. Courtney is a wife to Larry and a momma to her one year old son, Tripp. She is a LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and works in private practice at 240 Counseling. Most recently, she is starting a postpartum support group called Beyond the Blue. She is launching Beyond the Blue this week in the mid cities area of DFW. Starting in February she will be seeing clients at Grapevine Birthing Center. I could not be more proud of my friend and I know that anyone that spends a half of a second with her will be well loved and encouraged. Thank you friend for sharing such a sacred piece of your heart with us. - Jamie