My years as a Catholicmarriageprep.com instructor and blogger immersed me in the world of Theology of the Body and the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Beginning the course with Creation and the Fall of Man, I knew that God created us good, and that without sin, nakedness wasn’t shameful because the body revealed the soul. Adam and Eve saw each other as God saw them, and therefore were able to make a gift of themselves to one another in love.
Then came sin, and as is taught in marriage prep: “They severed themselves from God’s gaze of love and couldn’t see God’s image in each other, as before. Their bodies were not transparent windows to their souls, but more of an obstacle hiding the soul…”
The good news is that through Jesus’ Incarnation and Resurrection, He redeemed the body and gave us grace-God’s life in our souls once again. Through the Sacrament of Matrimony, once again man and woman are able to be naked without shame and give a gift of each other in love.
As I said, I knew all that. I knew how beautiful marriage was theologically and what a gift children are as a fruit of their love. What I didn’t know was how hard birth and the year following each birth would be in a very physical way, and how those difficulties would impact my marriage.
I gave birth to four children in a span of 6 years. Practicing NFP after a baby wasn’t as easy as I thought. Recovering from the trauma of childbirth wasn’t as easy as I thought. Neither was remaining mentally stable, losing baby weight, or keeping my marriage strong. All of these things were incredibly difficult as I struggled with anxiety, postpartum depression, a myriad of physical difficulties, and the impact of those on my marriage.
The most bewildering part is that I thought I must be alone. I think back to my baby shower when moms were so excited for me to have my first baby. They didn’t warn me how extremely exhausted I’d be, how much I’d bleed, or how often I’d cry or worry or be physically taxed. When I wanted to find answers to my difficulties, I didn’t know where to look or who to ask. The Internet is a giant rabbit-hole you don’t want to go down as a new mother, and my doctor’s answers only got me so far.
Yet we kept having kids. And I struggled to keep a prayer life, to keep my sanity, and to feel like I wasn’t one giant failure.
After Zoe, my fourth, was born and I was broken to the core, God began to rebuild me. I had held up the white flag of surrender and He swooped in and began to reveal to me what He had been doing all along: transforming me into the mother and wife that He created me to be.
And one of the biggest lessons? “My postpartum journey has forced me to recognize the importance of taking care of my body as the visible expression of my soul. . . When I get more sleep, keep up my vitamin levels, and give my body exercise, I am more disposed to receive God’s grace to be present to my family and to love my spouse.” The good news is God can redeem my postpartum body to be an instrument of His grace as I fulfill my vocation and wife and mother.
In my new book, Baby and Beyond: Overcoming Those Post-Childbirth Woes, I recount my journey to heal my body and reconnect it to my soul and to my mission as a mother. What you’ll find in there is a collection of stories on topics such as:
– Postpartum depression vs. depletion
– Anxiety and brain fog
– Vitamins to restore hormone health
– Marriage and intimacy after a baby
– Practicing postpartum NFP
– The importance of finding community
– A way of praying in the postpartum season
– The real meaning of self-care
– Overcoming the negativity of a postpartum body
– Finding God’s mercy in the midst of overwhelming failure
and much more.
In talking with many women, the year or two right after a baby is full of so many changes that it’s easy to feel isolated and alone, as if you are the only one struggling. This book is my attempt to journey with moms of babies and young children as I share my honest experiences and hopeful insights.
For more information on my book, Baby and Beyond, please visit: https://www.sophiainstitute.com/products/item/baby-and-beyond
With love and prayers to all you struggling moms,