A recent post on Blog Segullah really got me thinking.
The deepest, and scariest, depression I ever experienced occurred right after my oldest was born. I had been mildly depressed while pregnant and I really went south after the difficult birth. My baby was a sensitive, colicky little one and the only thing I seemed to be able to do about her cry was to start crying myself.
One late night when she was about a month old I was sitting in her dreary apartment nursery in the dark crying, which was beginning to be a daily occurence, and hoping that the neighbors wouldn't start complaining about her wailing. I was exhausted and confused and all I wanted to do was to sleep--preferably until my baby was at least a year old. As her crying overwhelmed me and the room began to feel smaller and smaller, I knew I was coming unhinged inside and I was scared. Frantically, fervently, I prayed, "Dear God, give me something. Throw me a bone. What can I do?"
The answer seemed so nonsensical I doubted it was any answer at all. After all, only a single word had occured to me: Sing. Weren't promptings supposed to be more than that?
I searched my memory for what on earth I could squeak out of my tear-drenched mouth. The song my mind seemed to settle on had been a family favorite for generations. When I was eight years old my father had actually paid me $5 to learn to play it on the piano. Family members had sung it at funerals, mission farewells, and reunions. It seemed like a logical choice--really like the only choice. I took a deep breath.
"As I have loved you, love one another." I hicupped between the phrases. "This new commandement: Love one another." Imagining the flowing accompanient, I tried to smooth out my own voice. "By this shall men know ye are my disciples, if ye have love on to another."
Remembering something I had read in a parenting magazine I positioned my still crying baby on my chest and started again hoping the bodily vibrations of my singing would combine with the sound to calm her. I sang the song again. And again. And . . . my baby kept crying.
But what was amazing to me was that I felt calmer. Maybe it was the meaning of the song combined with all the memories of my family singing it that did it. Maybe it was a blessing from the Lord for following a prompting. Maybe it was both, but whatever it was for a moment that I wasn't alone. For the duration of that song I didn't feel quite as bereft of hope.
I was grateful for those feelings, but I wondered why the Lord didn't give me an answer that would calm my baby. Maybe nothing would have calmed her that night or maybe I needed to suffer through her sadness with her. I wasn't sure, but I kept singing it to her every time she needed to go to sleep. She still cried a lot, but after a couple weeks the song began to be familiar enough to her that she would stop and listen. And then at eight weeks, wonder of wonders, she tried to sing a long. As I bounced her and patted her back and sang, she tried to catch my eye. I slowed down a little and gazed, probably for the first time, into her chocolate eyes. (When I am in the midst of a depressive episode I hate to look at people's faces, especially their eyes.) As our eyes met her impossibly small lips made a perfect O and she ooed along with me. My heart swelled with awe as I listened to her voice and I thought to myself, "This must be what other mothers feel all the time."
We haven't sang that song together for a long time--she chooses other songs at bedtime now-- but I still love it and I think she does too. Hopefully, it is somewhere inside her so that when she needs some comfort it will be there for her like it was for me.