Jacob’s birthday is a week after mine. The summer I was expecting him, my parents gave me a birthday card and in it my mom had written, “today or someday very soon you will be a mom and you’ll know the joy you’ve brought to us.” Eight days later I was handed a 7 lb. 15 oz. beautiful baby boy and was truly overcome with joy. We were young and naive but definitely oozing with love. Giddy over our son.
As most parents do, probably all first-time parents, I began to watch for milestones. Communication, Sensory, Motor, Feeding. Jacob met some but was basically delayed overall. Before his first birthday I was concerned and questioning his pediatrician. By his second birthday we knew. Our fears were confirmed – there would be major delays.
But, delays didn’t matter, we celebrated birthdays BIG. I took a cake decorating course because I wanted my children to have FUN cakes. Special moments and wonderful memories. Both of our families lived nearby and they were all invited to shower Jacob with love. And they did! With love and loads of presents. They enjoyed the parties and Jacob enjoyed them more.
As he got older though, I used his birthday as a marker for what had or had not been accomplished. And frankly, it was depressing. Some years I could see no improvement in any area. He was stuck mentally with no verbal language. He could understand us and follow through on some things. I would try my hardest not to let it get me down. He deserved to be celebrated!! And yet, there was looming sadness. Guilt smothering me. I had a wonderful son we all loved deeply and nothing made me happier than to do something for him. Still, I wanted so badly to prove the doctors wrong. Surely they made a mistake.
I don’t remember what year but I finally went to my family doctor as I could not shake the low spirit taking over. While I spoke and tears ran down my face, he suggested I had seasonal depression. It had nothing to do with the ‘seasons’, as in winter, spring, summer, fall – but the season in my life reoccurring each year. By April I’d start feeling the gloom, I dreaded Jacob’s July birthday. Couldn’t accept him being another year older with no progress to note. I was prescribed an anti-depressant that I didn’t want to take but was desperate to get out from under the dark cloud. And, as Dr. W predicted, it did help me get through those few months. Once his birthday had passed I could move on, wean off the med and everything return to ‘normal’. And try as I might, by spring of the next year no matter what I did to prepare—positive self talk, prayer, reading, confiding in a friend, therapy, gratitude journal, etc. I’d need to get back on something. I was ashamed. How could I let a birthday, Jacob’s birthday, depress me terribly? I could not help it and couldn’t help it for a number of years. A roller coaster of emotions knowing what I needed to do but every year hoping I could avoid medicine to cope.
I share this now for you, my small blogging audience, to get a peak into what an adorable child blessed our lives in the summer of 1979. Looking back at these pictures reminds me of all the fun. Goodness God gave us the most awesome gift. And we were surrounded by such supportive families. But also, I want to speak to those who struggle with depression, whether seasonal or not. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying the blessings. God is able to hold you, to carry you when you can’t walk. Look around and accept His open arms. You are not alone. And you are not the only one who may have dreaded another special event. God understands.
I wasn’t able to locate pictures from every year of Jacob’s first two decades but hope you’ve enjoyed these, even those poor quality ones! Stay tuned for next week’s post – the birthday boy celebrates a BIG ONE!