I became pregnant with our first son during our first year on the mission field in Cambodia. We were elated, God having changed our hearts about the blessing of children. Although culture shock had been a part of our lives up to that point, I could not believe how much I was facing over those months of pregnancy. You see, culture shock often involves depression. I had no idea that I was facing more than what every missionary woman faces in adjusting to a new field. It was not until I found myself screaming without a single shred of restraint at a little innocent face framed in blonde hair that I realized just how low I had fallen. I became overwhelmed with guilt. I started asking my Chris for more and more help at home. I just have to get through this culture shock, I thought, then we will be home-free.
We returned with new baby Marcus following our first furlough to America and settled into life. For months I lived joyfully and felt culture shock had finally passed. I was so very glad to be in Cambodia serving and even more glad to have the three most wonderful children in the world. Six months later, we were in a little Cambodian town in the west, and I had been feeling nauseous for a few days. I took a pregnancy test in a bathroom that had no light. Needless to say, it took quite a while to determine the results. Positive!!! My mind immediately jumped into husband-logistics mode. How would Chris feel? Did he really want God to decide our family size? Would he be worried that I would be a crying mess for the next nine months?
I finally mustered up the courage to tell him as we bounced along the bumpy road on the way home. He smiled. I asked him if he was upset. He shook his head,
"I want my babies."
He told me we were in this together, on the same team. He said he loved me, and he would defend our decision and commitment to see children as a blessing from God.
Two months later, I left our house in a tuk-tuk (a motorbike with a carriage that we use for a taxi). I bought a plane ticket, boarded a plane, and flew to Thailand. I was convinced something beyond culture shock caused my endless fatigue, restless sleep, hair fall, and crying. Surely this was a physical problem. Chris was overwhelmed with trying to care for me, our children, and his ministry, but I thought he just didn't care about me. I was going to take matters into my own hands and see a qualified doctor.
By the time I arrived in Thailand, I was too weak to get off the plane. *
Read the Introduction, Part One, Part Two, and Part Three of this series!
*Prenatal Depression often manifests itself in the emotional realm, but, for most, the physical realm is also affected. Especially for missionary women who live with higher stress levels and/or in more challenging climates, the physical manifestations of prenatal depression can be very debilitating.