Today we’re talking about the moments in motherhood when you feel blue or depressed. We chat with Becky's dear friend, Carol McLeod, about how you can find your way back to joy.
Form a deeper connection with God, more empathic connection with other Moms, and more intentional connection with your child.
Welcome to The Connected Mom Podcast, where we have real conversations helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with other moms, and more intentionally with your child. I'm Becky Harling, and I'm your host today to have with me today my amazing and beautiful cohost, Sarah Wildman. Hey, Sarah.
Hello, Becky. So what is our topic today?
Our topic is a big one. It's about those days where you feel depression creeping in in your motherhood journey. And I feel like it's a really important topic, Sarah, because the statistics are showing a rise in this. And today I'm super excited. We have my dear friend with us, Carol McLeod. Welcome, Carol. I am delighted to have you here. What people don't know is Carol and I have been friends, I don't know, maybe 1015 years. Carol. And at the beginning of this year, Carol said to me, becky, I think you're supposed to start a podcast. And I said, Well, Carol, that sounds like it might be from the Lord, but I don't know how to do that. So I began to pray, Lord, just if this is from you, drop it in my lap. And God did exactly that. And then Carol went on to actually name the podcast. She came up with the name The Connected Mom Podcast, which I love. But aside from all that, Carol is my dear friend, and she is the mother of five children here on Earth, five children in heaven. She is a best selling author. She's an incredible podcast. Host of the podcast, the jolt of joy and significant woman. Both of them are rated, like, really high on the Google rankings. And then Carol, her favorite dessert is raspberry, uh, pie. She loves coffee like I do. The difference between Carol and I is that I can't make sense after 09:00 at night, and Carol is still going strong, and I make best sense at about 430 in the morning and Carol still in bed. But we love each other.
Becky. It's so great to be with you. Thanks for having me. And I can't believe I named your podcast. That's like letting your best friend name your baby.
Well, you had a lot of influence. I mean, you do host a Significant Woman podcast, so it was great to have you name mine anyway. And Carol, you have had so many accomplishments, and you have released 15 books now, and you're just incredible. But tell us your story about your motherhood journey, because it wasn't always happy. Clappy.
No, Becky. I always wanted to be a mom. And so I married my college sweetheart, a great man of God. And after a couple of years of working, we, uh, decided it was time. And I had two little boys back to back, two years apart almost to the day. And I'm one of those crazy moms. I loved sticking a pacifier back into a rosebud mouth at three in the morning. I loved it. I loved tripping over Legos in the middle of the night. I loved peanut butter and jelly fingerprints on my kitchen cupboards. I loved it all. And so Craig and I wanted to enlarge our family. And I got pregnant and lost the first baby at about twelve and a half weeks, which, as you know, uh, that's not uncommon. Um, I was young, I was apparently fertile, and I got pregnant again and lost the second baby at 15 weeks. I got pregnant again and lost the third baby at 16 weeks.
I got pregnant again and lost the fourth baby at 19 weeks and five days. And as you know, that's halfway through your pregnancy.
And I got pregnant again and lost the fifth baby at 16 weeks. And let me tell you, my world had imploded. Um, my heart was broken, my hormones were raging, my arms were empty. And the black hole of depression called my name very loudly during those years. Um, when I lost the fourth baby, which was the one in about 20 weeks, um, I delivered at Duke University Medical Center, one of the finest infertility clinics in the world. My doctor there. And I'll never forget Becky and Sarah. So we were in a delivery room and it was filled with neonatal specialists, surgeons, um, interns, nurses, and, um, as they took the little boy away from me, um, my doctor's nurse, who I knew very well by then, she was stroking my hair and she said, Carol, are you okay? And I said yes. And it was one of the holiest moments of my life. There was a sacred silence in the room, and you could hear these learned men crying with us. And at that moment, my husband lifted his arms toward heaven and began to sing, I love you Lord and I lift my voice wow.
So the black hole was just my daily reality. I was still a good mom. I was still mothering wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. But I was a pastor's wife. I had to go to baby showers. I had to stand on stage during baby death dedications. Um, and so during those years, so after I lost the five babies, then I couldn't get pregnant anymore. And so I was on high doses of fertility drugs to get pregnant and then progesterone to stay pregnant. Um, and I developed an addiction in the middle of my pain and loss and depression. Um, and the addiction that I developed was not to over the counter drugs, it wasn't to chocolate. I had that one pre infertility. It wasn't to alcohol. But the addiction that I developed was to the word of God. Now, I went to my medical doctor and I was on medication. Um, I went to a Christian counselor and she was helping me process those black days and my grief, because I was grieving deeply. But I want to be honest with you all, it was my faith. It was the Word of God that delivered me from that dark place before my circumstances ever changed. Um, I say I developed an addiction. I wrote out the Word of God on three by five cards and laminated them and took them in the shower with me. So I was never away from Scripture. I did the dishes with the Bible open on the counter. I played Legos with my little boys with the Bible open between my legs. I folded laundry with the Bible open on, um, the dryer, because I was a desperate woman and desperate times call for desperate measures. And so I was inhaling the Word of God, like most of us inhale oxygen. Um, and all of a sudden, I began to experience trickles of joy in the midst of the darkness. And it was the word of God. Um, now, I want to say to your mom's who are listening today, if you are depressed, see your medical doctor. If you are depressed, go to a Christian counselor. But, um, never forget the power of your faith, because the battle against depression is three pronged. It's medicine, it's counseling, and it's faith. It's those three things that will help you overcome, uh, m. Now, Becky and Sarah, I'll be honest with you. I'm 30 years removed from my infertility struggle, but depression still knocks on the door of my heart. M. But m, now I know how to answer it. I answer with the Word of God when I feel it overshadowing me, when I feel it overpowering me. I know what I need is really more of Jesus. And so I'm intentional about that.
I'm so glad you said, um, go to your medical doctor, seek counseling, and bring your faith into it, the word of God and praise. Um, I think that sometimes depression is brought on by our circumstances, for sure. Um, I can't imagine losing that many babies. Carol, you did go on. And eventually I did have three more, which to me is remarkable. Resiliency. I think I might have given up. But sometimes depression in motherhood is a mix of chemicals in our brain or hereditary disposition. And so I really love that you said, go to a counselor and seek medical help and then go to the Word of God. And I know you like myself, we go to praising God when we don't know what to do. And all of those things help quiet the depression. And yet, Carol, in your life, I've known you as the woman of joy. So that seems a little bit like a dichotomy. How can you have depression but be the woman of joy? I mean, you have the jolt of Joy podcast. Uh, mhm. What is that? I mean, how so?
You and I both love the story of Jehasafad and Second Chronicle money. And to me, one of the most significant places in that story is after the battle, when they spent three days picking up the spoil. And see in every battle that the lord allows us to go through I'm not saying he causes it, but allows us to go through. The reason he allows us to go through it is for the spoil, is for what we gain on the other side. And the lord wastes nothing in our lives. Every experience he's able to use for his glory. And so what I say, becky, is that my five children on earth have made me so happy. I'm a happy mom, but my five children in heaven have taught me how to be a defiantly, joyful christian, because happiness comes from our happenings, but joy comes from one place, and that's from his presence, where there's always fullness of joy. And you're right, becky. There are many different kinds of depression. Um, and mine was circumstantial or traumatic. It developed. It was my reaction to trauma and depression settled in. But there are different kinds, and they're treated differently. Um, but every type of depression is real. Every type of depression, um, is gut wrenching.
Yeah. Thank you so much for being so honest with us, carol. I can imagine that any woman listening to this could relate. I mean, we know that the miscarriage rate, right, is just so much higher than we often talk about. And so I think a lot of moms almost feel like, uh, a hidden grief in that, because it's just not acknowledged a lot. So if you could transport back to that time in those deep times of loss and grief after losing your babies, because, uh, to be honest, when you said you started getting addicted to something, I thought, oh, no, here we go.
What's she going to say?
Um, and it would be understandable, of course, it wouldn't have been healthy for you, but anything you would have said, I would have been like, yeah, I can see that. So when you got addicted to the word, how could a mom that maybe is in this place of loss, what's her first step to turn to the word? Um, how did that look for you? Because I feel like that might not be a natural step, even if we know as believers that that would be a good idea.
Yeah, absolutely. Sarah one of the things is that we do have an enemy who wants to keep us out of the word. And the enemy speaks to us often not always, but often through our emotions. And so he'll get us so discouraged, and he'll whisper things to us like, the word doesn't work. Like you don't understand it anyway, or you don't really have time to read the word. Um, and all those are lies, because what we need the most during the most devastating moments of our life is the word of god. It is worship. So for a mom who's grappling with depression today, I would say, you know what? Just start in the psalms and just linger there, just rest in the Psalms. And when you're depressed, this is true. Your mind doesn't link. Your mind is unable to process information, but read the Word anyway. Read the Word when you don't understand it. Because we don't primarily read the Word for information. We read it for transformation.
And so the Word is doing a work in you even when your mind is like a volleyball. Um, one of my favorite scriptures when I was depressed is Psalm 126 five. And it says, Those who sow in tears will reap. enjoyful shouting. Okay, first of all, no. We have been taught, and this is true in biology and botany in the animal kingdom, that whatever it is you sow, you reap. So if you plant sunflower seed, you're going to get sunflowers, not radishes. Right? If you plant tomatoes, you're going to get tomatoes, not peppers. Like, if two giraffes come together, they're going to have a baby giraffe, not a baby porcupine, which the mama giraffe says, thank you very much. But this is the one place where the rule of sewing and reaping is broken. That when you sow in tears, you have a greater capacity for joy than for those who've lived a circumstantially, happy life. Well, how does that happen? Well, it happens when you water your tears with the Word and you fertilize it with worship. You water the place of sorrow with the Word of God, and you fertilize it with worship, and then you're going to go to and fro with joyful shouting. So this phrase, joyful shouting, it's the Hebrew word rena, and it actually means a proclamation of joy. It means something that comes out of you, like, it's not just internal, but it's explosive. And in the ancient Hebrew language, they didn't have a word for vary. Um, and so they used what we call the double emphatic. And so what it says in the Hebrew is renna. Rena, like, twice in a row. Double joy shouting. Shouting. Um, so I just want to speak to the moms and say, hey, listen, either we believe the Word or we don't. Like, either the Word is true or it's not. And so take this scripture, Psalm 126 five. And I know you're depressed, and I wish I could change your circumstances, but I can't. But I can help you process them according to Scripture. So let's take our place of pain and let's water it with the Word, and let's fertilize it with worship, and let's see what a harvest of joy will grow in all of our lives. I love that, Carol.
I absolutely love that. Uh, when you were talking about a double dose, I was thinking a double shot of espresso short joy. Right? But I want to ask you another question, because one of our goals here on the Connected Mom podcast is to help women understand the absolute necessity of connecting with other moms. So you were in this season where you were depressed you were losing baby after baby, five babies. That is a lot, that's a lot of sorrow. How did you connect with other moms? How did they connect with you? How did they comfort you in that? One of the things you said that I loved was that the doctors were crying with you in the delivery room. And I love that. But how did your friends connect with you?
Well, I think if you're battling depression, you have to be very selective about who you share your heart with. Don't do it on social media, please don't. Um, but find a very safe group of friends. And it doesn't take a lot. And I think when you're depressed, especially if you can find two or three really strong prayer warriors. For me, I'll be honest with you, Becky and Sarah. It was older women who got me through, like, the mums in my season of life. Um, they didn't have the capacity at that moment, which is fine. They were birthing babies and up all night and changing diaper. But it was the older women in my life. Another pastor's wife, older than I was, my mentor lived in another city, um, my mother in law. They were the ones who walked me through it because they had the wisdom and the life experience to know how to encourage a young woman dealing with depression. And so to your depressed moms today, I would say find a couple older women who have the bandwidth of wisdom to walk you through this time. Still plan play dates. Don't become a hermit, don't become a turtle. Don't go inward. Plan play dates for your kids. Meet at a, uh, fast food restaurant, do all the things. And you're going to have to force yourself to do it. M. But the most valuable gift you can give yourself are a couple of older women who will help you.
I love that, Carol, because I've known some moms who have had a horrible battle with depression, right? But what they do is they just crawl in bed and stay in bed for days. And as a result, the children are not cared for, which we really don't have that luxury as moms. I mean, your children are still your children. They still need their mother, they still need somebody looking after them. Um, they isolate and that can actually lead to more depression. Right?
Yeah. And that's a big temptation. When the enemy forces were trying to defeat King David, they said, get him alone, get him alone, get him when he's alone. And then you'll take him down and see, the enemy knows that when we're alone, we're easier, um, it's easier to get us, it's easier to convince us of lies. And so it's very important, even in the middle of depression that you stay in some type of Christian community and you're going to have to force yourself to do it. Honestly. Um, there were days now I always got out of bed, becky because I was so motivated to love my little boys. But my house was a disaster. There were dishes from last day. Um, there are other things that I let go in my life, but to the moms who are depressed today, find some older women and go easy on yourself. That's one thing the older mom helped me with, like Carol. Don't worry about the dishes. Just love your little boys, make a healthy lunch, go for a walk. Uh, someday you'll do your dishes. They helped me focus on what was important.
I love that you m mentioned Psalm 126 five, and that's a fabulous verse, of course. Were there any other scriptures that kind of popped out to you when you're in that really dark time and were addicted to God's word, which I'm sure you still are.
I still am. Becky knows me. Yes, well, another one was Psalm, um, 1611. It's actually now my lifetime verse that in his presence there's fullness of joy. And see, as Western women of the 21st century, one of the mistakes we've made is we've looked for joy in all the wrong places. We've thought Harvard or Hawaii or Godiver chocolate or five perfectly behaved children are going to bring us joy, and they're not. I sure would like to find out if there was some joy in Hawaii, but that's not where it is. There's only one place where we can find joy. If I wanted to buy, um, a new refrigerator, I wouldn't go to Victoria's Secret. It's not there. I go to Sears. I go to Home Depot. So you've got to know where to get joy. And it's in his presence. That's where there is always fullness of joy. So when we're discouraged, when we're weary, when we're depressed, we have to spend time in his presence, which is the word and worship. So that was a great scripture. Um, Sarah, another great scripture, I think it's Nehemiah 810. And, um, yes, this scripture says, um, everybody knows part of it. The joy of the Lord is your strength. But the first part of it says, be not grieved or depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Now, we really do have an enemy, and what he wants is our joy. Uh, we think what he wants is our marriage, our kids, our finances, our health, and our destiny. But that's not actually what he wants. He wants our joy. The way he tries to get our joy is through our marriage, our kids, our health, our finances, and our destiny. So when we're in a battle for joy, we have to say, Enemy, you can't have it. You're not going to take my joy, because nothing can take God's presence from me.
So I got to ask you a question, Carol. At the beginning of that verse, you said, so be not depressed.
Be not grieved or depressed.
So there are women out there right now listening to us and they're thinking, I'm depressed, am I living in sin?
No, you're not us. No. That was just, um, like pulling you no, uh, depression is not a sin. Alright, let me just say that loud and clear. It is not a sin. I tell everybody, listen, I know that the words depressed and Christian are not an oxymoron because I was one. They are not mutually exclusive because I was one. I loved Jesus fully during those days. Yes, I loved him so much since I was a little girl. But depression is real. Um, it is real and it's not your fault. Like Becky and I have said, there's so many factors that contribute to the birth of depression in in a person, but it's it's not sin. But this is the good news.
Yeah, I think too, we forget sometimes that Jesus himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We have churches at times that are very well meaning. That kind of pitch, this idea that Christianity is all happy clappy, as I call it. However, that's not true, right? Because Jesus said, in this life you will have sorrow. And somehow when sorrow happens, we're shocked. But I think what's so beautiful and resilient about your story, Carol, is yes, you had the pit of depression, but you continued falling in love with Jesus, and now Jesus has rewarded you in so many ways. So tell us about these other three children that came along, because I realized we never got to that part of the story. Grandchildren.
As Paul, uh, Harvey says, we must tell the rest of the story.
The rest of the story.
After losing five babies, then I couldn't get pregnant anymore. As I said, I was on high doses of fertility drugs to get pregnant, progesterone to stay pregnant. And it was the week between Christmas and New Year in 1987, and by this time, Matt and Chris are elementary age boys and they're out playing with their friends. And I was watching a Christian TV show and I'll never forget, I was folding blue washcloths in the living room and I was watching the end of a show and a pastor's wife said, there's a pastor's wife out there. And I thought, yeah, there are a lot of us folding blue washcloths. And she said, you have suffered repeated miscarriages, m. And I looked at the TV and she said, you're pregnant now. And I said, I am. And she said, and walk in faith, not in fear, because this one's going to stick. And eight and a half months later, I gave birth to Jordan McLeod. And then, because I'm selfish, I had my three sons, I wanted another baby. And so the doctor put me on high doses of fertility drugs. And after nearly a year he said, carol, this is enough. What we have put your body through over the last decade. Uh, no. And he was a believer he said, Go home and raise your little boys for the kingdom. And I said, you're right. Well, the next month, I got pregnant. No fertility drugs. And I called him and I said, Dr. Granger, I'm pregnant. And he said, well, it's the residual effect of fertility drugs. And I said, no, it's not. It's a miracle. And he said, I knew you were going to say that. Then I had Joy, and that's what you name a little girl after three boys. She named her Joy. And then three and a half years later and m I'm, like, almost 40 years old. I'm knocking on the door of 40. I had the flu that didn't go away. And we named her Joni rebecca. I didn't find out I was pregnant when I was five months pregnant, because pregnant I don't get pregnant. I'm 40. And I was pregnant with Joni Rebecca. And so that's the happy story of my family.
I love that. And now you have nine grandchildren.
I do. I call them the nine wonders of my world, and I'm enjoying every minute of that.
Well, Carol, you stay busy as an author like Becky talked about at the beginning, and you just came out with your is it your 15th book?
Yes, this summer.
And I'll read the title. Meanwhile meeting God in the wait and your story proves that you know what that's like. So could you tell us a little bit about that book?
Yeah, I'd love to. So it's a Bible study and the life of Joseph of the Old Testament. He's my favorite Old Testament character. Uh, it's like a comedy of errors. How could so many bad things happen to one person? Well, it did. Um, and I was reading the story of Joseph one day, and it's in Genesis 36 that we are introduced to Joseph, and he's Daddy's favorite. He gets the coat of many colors. His brothers hate him. They bully him. They, um, throw them into a pet. They cover his coat with blood, tell Daddy he's dead and he's sold into slavery. Well, all that's in one chapter, by the way. The last verse of Genesis 37 says, meanwhile, Joseph was in potter for his house. And that word meanwhile jumped out at me. Like, in all of our lives, there is a meanwhile when we don't like our circumstances, when we wonder where God is, and yet he's working behind the scenes for his glory and for our good. So meanwhile is a Bible study. It also comes with an eight video, um, teaching that you can have for your church or your small group or your Sunday school class to do along with the book. But I love teaching the Word of God, and that was my latest one. Yeah.
And then you also have a book, Rooms of a Mother's Heart, which I know our listeners are scrambling right now to get a pen or a pencil so that they can order that. So tell us about rooms for the Mother's Heart. It won the Director's Choice Award at the Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference. So tell us about that.
Well, I've always wanted to write a book on motherhood. And Becky, the first book I ever pitched to a publisher was a book on motherhood. I was in my mid thirty s, and he said to me, carol, someday you'll write a book on motherhood. And I would be happy to publish it. But the Bible says in Titus Two that older women are supposed to teach the younger women how to love their husbands, love their children, and be keepers the home. At the time, I was devastated. But what sage advice that now I have all these years of motherhood to look back on and to coach a new generation of moms. So we go through all the rooms of a mother's heart. Like in the library, I talk about the importance of reading to your kids. And there is a list of hundreds of age appropriate books to read to your children. There's the music room where I talk about music and what you should be listening to. Um, there is the nursery where God speaks dreams to a mother's heart. So it's practical because there are recipes in there. I'm not a cook, but I do have a couple under my belt. But most of all, it is the call to raise the generation of children for the unshakable kingdom of Christ. And I always say, read it with a box of tissues because you're going to laugh and cry your way through it. And the last chapter is the front porch. And the front porch is where we let our children go, Becky. It's where we say bye. And it's also where the moms of Prodigals stand and wait.
Yes. And they cry and they pray. Hey, Carol, we are almost out of time. I just want to recap some of what you shared because this has been so rich. So one of the things and Sarah, you're going to have to help me remember all this because I was enjoying it so much that I didn't write anything down. But, um, Carol said, find some older women. When you're in a season of grief or depression and just reaching out, you can reach out through text. I know I have some younger mamas in my life who will text me and just say, hey, Becky, I need your prayers right now. It's not going well, or, I haven't slept for the last, um, two years. Longer than that. I had to think for a minute. Just as older moms, uh, we want to be able to pray for you, and we covenant before you. We will not give you advice, but we will take you before the Lord. We'll give you advice if you ask for it, but not if you don't. So we'll pray for you. So find some older moms. Stay. Connected in this season's, words all falling apart and you're completely depressed. Don't isolate. Um, but do go to the word of God and just read snippets man. You don't have to read whole books of the Bible. You don't have to keep up with your, you know, one year reading plan during those moments of depression. Just choose one or two verses, some of the verses that Carol listed in Psalm 126 and some of the other passages of Scripture that she mentioned in Nehemiah. Uh, and cling to those verses. Write them on index cards. Put them on your mirror. Put them in the kitchen where you always are. Put them on the dryer where you're always doing laundry. Can you think of some other practical suggestions, Sarah, that Carol mentioned?
Well, and I think choosing I think her choice to throw herself into God's word. I mean, you just said that again. But you do have choices. I guess I feel like the women I know have known that have struggled or are struggling with depression. You still have choices. Right. And I think Carol's choice to continue to throw herself into what she knew was good for her, even though it was hard to do. Right. Um, that's why she's telling us the things she's telling us today. Right? I mean, had she thrown herself into something different that, like I said, might have made all kinds of sense to get through it. Um, today God is using her story. Right. Um, she's on the other side to encourage others. So. Thank you, Carol. That's huge. I think we do have choices, even when it's a dark time, right?
Yeah. Uh, and you went to a counselor, you went to your medical doctor. So you three pronged approach. So please, ladies, if you're out there and you're struggling, I pray that you take hope away from today's episode, because Carol, I just feel it in my bones right now. I feel like there are women out there right now who are saying, I need help because I just want to crawl in bed and forget that I'm a mom. But you have encouraged us not to do that. We are so out of time. I wish we had another 3 hours. But, um, Carol, would you just pray now and pray for the women that are out there that are really struggling with depression? And in the show notes today, we're going to be putting some of the covers of Carol's books. We're also going to put where you can get in touch with Carol, because I have a feeling some of you might want to talk with her. And so we're going to make sure that's in the show notes. And thanks for joining us today, carol, go ahead and pray for us.
Jesus, we love you so much. Father, thank you for being with us every day, every step of the way. Father, I thank you that you care about our human pain. You are compassionate toward us. And Father, I pray for those moms right now who are struggling with discouragement or depression. Father, I pray right now that you would wrap your loving arms around each one and whisper words of hope to their anxious hearts. Lord, we know you are good and we know you are able. So Father, I pray for every mother listening, moms of teenagers, moms of prodigals, father, moms with broken hearts, moms who are on an infertility journey. Father, would you make a way where there seems to be no way? Father, would you accomplish what concerns each one of these moms in Jesus name and Father, for all of us? Would you restore to us the joy of our salvation? Lord, we know it's going to take a miracle, but you're a miracle working God. So Father, we love you and we worship you today. In Jesus name, amen.
Amen. Hey, friends, thanks for joining us today on The Connected Mom podcast. And if you're enjoying this podcast, we'd like like to ask you to share it with your mom. Friends, we look forward to being with you next week for another episode of The Connected Mom Podcast, where we're going to have real conversations helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your child.