Hot Topics: Celebrity Baby Scoop: Natalie Grant: ‘I didn’t want to recognize that I had depression’
By Shannah Henderson
Christian rocker Natalie Grant has sure been having a busy summer. The mom of three is getting ready to release a new album in October called “Hurricane,” which tells the story of how she “found the light” after dealing with postpartum depression.
Natalie opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her album, which she considers an “antithesis” to how she felt during her struggles with PPD. She also shares what her three daughters — twins Grace and Isabella, 6, and Sadie, 3 — have been up to this summer and shares that she is “terrified” to start potty-training her littlest one.
Q: Tell us all about your new album, “Hurricane.” What can fans expect on the new album? What is the inspiration behind the new album?
A: “For the last several years, I’ve had the awesome privilege to record a lot of awesome songs that had to do with other people’s stories. For example, ‘Hell,’ was about a couple losing their baby and ‘In Better Hands’ was written about a boy who survived a fire. I wrote a lot of songs that reached into the hearts of other people, but they told other people’s stories.
“‘Hurricane’ is different for me, because it tells my story. I faced a lot of postpartum depression after the birth of my third child, and the songs on this album are my testimony of how I found the light. I was in a dark place for a long time, so it took me a long time to make this record. Hopefully the three-year timeframe will have been worth the wait! (laughs)
“I am really excited about it. The songs are really pop-driven and super fun to listen to, and they also have very powerful lyrics. What’s interesting about the record is that it is so encouraging and so full of life and hope, but that’s not because I’ve been living like that for the past couple of years. It’s actually the antithesis to how I’ve been feeling. The record demonstrates what the result of hope is, and knowing times will get better and the sun will shine again. Each song is my testament to that belief.”
Q: We hear you suffered from postpartum depression. Please tell us how you felt and when you reached out for help. Please share your experiences for our readers who might be feeling alone and/or shame in reaching out for help.
A: “I think it was really hard to talk about because I am such a proud person, and maybe because I do inspirational music, I’m in the spotlight all the time, and everyone always expects me to have my life together. The only person I really had was my husband. For a while, I didn’t want to recognize that I had depression. I felt completely overwhelmed and totally incapable of having three kids. I remember having such an inner battle with myself.
“My husband and I were told that we’d never be able to have kids, and we went through an incredible amount of medical treatments before I got pregnant with our twins. My second pregnancy after that was a miracle we didn’t ask for. We didn’t go through any medical treatments and I just showed up pregnant. It caught me off-guard and I think a lot of moms can understand that inner battle with themselves in thinking, ‘How in the world can I feel like I didn’t ask for this? How in the world can I not want to be pregnant and not want any more kids? How can I have those feelings?’ It was such a miracle, because I was told I couldn’t even get pregnant.
“I think that the guilt of having that inner war played a lot into my depression. Talking with my husband, going to my doctor for help and getting medicine really helped me. I also spoke to other moms about it, which helped give a voice to the reality of what I was going through. I think that in many instances, we are so embarrassed and so ashamed and scared to speak out, that during these times we suffer privately. We get so much more help if we give a voice to what we’re going through. Once I began giving a voice to my hardship, I understood that it was going to be okay. This didn’t happen overnight, because there are still days where I greatly struggle and feel completely inadequate. However, it has gotten a lot better.”
Q: Were you surprised/shocked/shamed/upset you had PPD? What got you through that tough time? Did you experience PPD after both pregnancies? How are you feeling now? What were some of the biggest surprises and/or gifts you learned through the experience of PPD?
A: “I think I was ashamed. To be honest, I’ve never known anyone who suffered with it before, so you kind of wonder how real PPD is. You ask yourself, ‘What is that? What do you mean I have postpartum depression?’ It immediately makes you realize that it’s a real serious problem that people need to talk about more. PPD can lead a lot of people down a dark path that they never come back from if they don’t seek out the proper help.
“When I first heard about it, I think I was embarrassed and my pride was a little hurt. At the same time, I also took a deep breath because I realized there was a reason I felt the way I did and it wasn’t something in my head or something I was making up; there was actually a real reason why I felt like that. This was the first step towards getting the help I needed. I only experienced PPD after my second pregnancy, not at all after the birth of my twins. Also, I didn’t even experience it right away; it happened a couple of months after I had Sadie and I truly struggled for about 18 months.
“In regard to the biggest gifts I learned through my experience with PPD, I’ve always known that I have an amazing husband. In a new way, I discovered that it’s such a gift to have a partner in life, because I know many women can’t say that. Every day, I thank god for having someone who really seeks and strives to make my life easier and really truly partners with me in life. One of the greatest gifts I discovered is that sometimes you don’t see that until you go through a hardship and you see what the people in your life are made of. I am really blessed.”
Q: Why do you think society shames PPD? Are you hoping to shatter some of the shame?
A: “I honestly don’t know! I even wondered this myself. I think I was very skeptical before I suffered with it, because I wondered what it was and whether it was just an excuse for a moms who were tired. Also, I think it’s really easy to judge someone and say, “How can you not be grateful for that little bundle of joy?’ Some women say they had this immediate connection with their babies as soon as they were born and I wanted that so desperately and felt like that should have happened. I really felt like there was something wrong with me. I didn’t instantly say, ‘Oh my gosh, where have you been all my life? You’re like the piece that completes me!’ I didn’t have that and it made me feel utterly shameful. I thought that I was a terrible mother and wondered what was wrong with me. Later I said to myself, ‘No, you’re not a terrible mother. Your mind is playing tricks on you. You do love this baby and you are a wonderful mom.’ I think that discovering the truth brought those realizations to life.”
Q: How are your daughters doing? What are their ages? What are they into these days? Do they all get along?
A: “My daughters are doing awesome! The twins are 6 years old and I homeschooled them for kindergarten, which was an incredibly awesome and challenging experience. They are going into first grade at a school this next year. They are both doing so great and it’s fun watching their different personalities and seeing how they are absolutely night and day from each other. If one says ‘black,’ the other says ‘white.’ One is three inches taller and they are both so individual and I love that about them. They still have such a beautiful connection. They are at summer camp right now jumping in creeks, diving into lakes and getting chewed up by bugs and scrapes on the knees. They are loving every second of it!
“Sadie is also doing so awesome and we’re getting ready to start potty-training her, which I’m terrified about. It’s amazing how you forget how to do it! The twins are four years older than her, and when they were younger I had to potty train two babies at once, so I know I can do this. However, it’s crazy how you forget! You think to yourself, ‘Wait a second…how did I do that?’ I am looking on websites for tips and trying to remember how to do everything.
“My daughters do get along well. They all have such individual personalities. Gracie, the twin that came out first by one minute, is such an oldest child. It’s amazing how twins have total birth order! She was the first one out and she is for sure the firstborn, because she is such a strong leader. Bella is such a nurturer…she’s takes incredible care of Sadie. Sadie is such a firecracker and always has been. My mom says to me all the time, ‘Remember, they told you that you weren’t supposed to have kids, so that little girl had to fight hard to make it into this world! She’s a world-changer for sure!”
Q: Are you hoping to try for another child? Or are you scared of experiencing PPD again?
A: “No, I’m finished. It’s funny, because I was so overwhelmed with the birth of my third child and now I realize that what they say is true…I couldn’t fathom my life without her. We thought our family was complete with two children, but it wasn’t. We are very happy with our three girls. My husband always said he wanted girls, and he got three of them!”
Q: What’s up next? Touring with the whole family?
A: “Yes, I have a lot of promotion coming up for ‘Hurricane,’ which comes out in October. The girls will stay with me for some of it, but they will also stay home. During touring season, I try to make it a point to not to be gone from them for more than three days during the week. In November and December, the Hall Family heads out on their ‘The Family’ tour, and my husband is going on that too. It will be fun to all be together.”