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by Brandie Kendrick
The bottom of the steamy shower floor is where my reality became evident. I remember turning the shower handle as far left as possible. I remember craving the feeling of the hot water droplets as they pierced my skin. I slid down to the bottom of the shower floor. I looked over my very different and exhausted skin. My stomach, like my heart, had grown three sizes bigger. Like a rushing river carves out the earth below it, my stomach was stretched out with deep valleys.
I tried to cry but it was like the well of my emotional pit was dry. Just as I was closing my eyes to imagine a reality of nothingness, the door flung open and the piercing cry of my newborn baby filled the steamy room and immediately jolted me back to the present. My husband looked confused as he kindly stated, “Maybe she is hungry.”
My breast began to leak and my body started to wake up to the fact that I was a mother and I was needed.
For the very first time in my short life, I felt needed. It was wonderful and it was also terrifying. It was at that moment that I realized I had to stay alive, heart beating. Death would not defeat my broken mind. I was breathing, alive, and needed for the sake of my daughter. I felt a sense of dread and a sense of hope all in the same moment. Shattered, I looked at my husband holding our screaming child and I uttered the most vulnerable thing I have ever said: “I need help, I am not okay.”
The details after that moment are very much a blur. There were appointments, medication checks, and follow-ups. While I stayed silent about my struggles, I felt supported by my husband. A whole new side of his heart showed up and rescued my broken soul. I noticed that he started to do things around the house he had never done before. He made me coffee in the mornings. He did his fair share of dishes and laundry. He took our colicky child on midnight drives. He held me close when the bottled up tears finally raced down my cheeks. When the tears came and wreaked havoc on my eyeliner in the middle of our daughter’s first birthday party.
The first few years of my daughter’s life are a blur of beauty and chaos. A mixture of wonder and defeat. I remember feeling like I wanted to peel my skin back when the baby started crying only five minutes after laying her down. I remember staring in complete all in wonder as she laughed out loud for the first time. Her hair sticking straight up in her trademark baby Mohawk fashion, the chuckle that erupted like a volcano from the pit of her belly. “I did that,” I thought to myself. “I made her.” In that moment the pain and trauma of the past were frozen and nothing but joy filled the room like a thick perfume. Since becoming a mother my life has been a collection of stand-still, frozen-in-time moments like this. Moments when my spirit wakes up and I breathe in the beauty that is this life I have been given.
Never have I ever been so sure of anything in my life than my call to be a mother. I am grateful for that small speck of courage I used to utter the truth of my anxiety and depression.
I am needed.
Now standing in the same steam-filled room that was once reminiscent of my lowest moment. I hear the serenade of giggles and splashes. The screams of my newborn daughter are now just a distant memory that has been replaced with laughter and knock-knock jokes. Bubbles fly across the room as my two daughters create underwater adventures with mermaids and pirate ships. I could have missed this moment. I could have missed this moment and the 10,000 moments before and after.
But I didn’t.
I didn’t allow my broken body and mind to overthrow my warrior spirit. I did not allow the stinging pain of my body ripped open or the aching of my leaking breast steal the joy that motherhood has brought me. Depression did not win. Anxiety did not win. I am here, breathing, and alive. Because, I am needed.
Brandie Kendrick is the author behind Pickled Proverbs. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and several certifications in human development. She puts her graduate degree to good use working 40+ hours a week as an Early Interventionist. Her evenings are spent chasing her free-spirited daughters or tackling mountains of laundry. After bedtime she can be found writing about the hilarious truths of motherhood and raising young children. Her passions including faith, family, and fighting for new and expecting mothers as they walk through the trenches of motherhood and mental health. For more of her work check out www.pickledproverbs.com