When Veronica Ambers got pregnant unexpectedly, she kept hearing that motherhood would be instinctive. She waited and waited for the day that would come true. But it just didn’t.
Struggling with being a single parent and with postpartum depression, which affects approximately 1 in 9 women, Veronica decided that parenthood was not for her. When her son, Josiah, was two years old she considered putting him up for adoption. “I was so emotionally fragile, and I didn’t know what was happening to me. I didn’t know anything about postpartum depression. It wasn’t talked about,” Veronica says. “I loved my son, but I felt like he deserved more. I spent days on the couch unable to get up and really give him the care and attention he needed.” Her family, who were all in Houston, knew she was dealing with postpartum depression but didn’t know to what extent. Her mom and stepdad took Josiah to live with them for a while to give Veronica a break and a chance to heal, but when her stepdad passed away, her mom couldn’t care for Josiah any longer.
Veronica got the phone call from her mom saying she needed to get Josiah. She had a meltdown. Her boss, who was also her friend, calmed her down and said that they should go to church. “She’s not a Christian, but she told me how she went to a restaurant a few months before and a lady gave her an invitation card to a church called Gateway,” Veronica says. “She kept the invitation, and when she saw me getting emotional, she suggested I go to this church and that she would go with me.” Her boss followed through, and that Sunday she picked up Veronica and they went to the 10:45 am service at the Gateway Southlake Campus. “I had grown up in the church and even worked in ministry for a time,” Veronica says. “I used to be strong in my faith, but I found myself in a very unfamiliar place. I was lost.” Veronica began attending Gateway every weekend after that.
Veronica took Josiah back home with her again, and every day was a battle for her emotions and her child. She found herself thinking about adoption regularly, seeing it as the only option. One Sunday when Pastor Robert invited people to the front if they needed prayer, Veronica decided to go up and ask if someone at Gateway could help her give her son up for adoption. “I talked with a gentleman about my struggles being a mom and how I wanted to put Josiah up for adoption, and he prayed for me,” Veronica says. “But then he did something for which I’m so grateful. He said, ‘Take this card and call the number on it. They can help you with what you’re going through. Promise me you’ll call.’” Veronica took the card and promised, glad to have a plan. The card had a number for Gateway Care on it, and Veronica set up an appointment with a pastor.
“I remember sitting in my car before the appointment and thinking, if this doesn’t work, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Veronica says. “I was in a very deep, dark place. I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it out alive.” She went in, and the pastor said that although Veronica wanted to discuss adoption, she wanted to pray for her and talk about her heart.
“She began to minister to me and prophesy over me, telling me that God saw me and loved me, that He hadn’t forgotten,” Veronica says. “She said everything I had been thinking. I believed God had forgotten me and that I was alone.” The pastor suggested Veronica schedule another appointment, which began a series of counseling sessions that would change the course of Veronica and Josiah’s lives.
Working with a counselor, Veronica began to heal and bond with Josiah. She started attending other events at Gateway and taking Josiah to the park. It was still incredibly difficult, and she wasn’t taking adoption off the table completely. She even pursued getting to know a family who offered to adopt Josiah and having him stay with them for a little while. “I still didn’t feel completely confident in that decision though. Plus, I hadn’t told my own family the extent of what was going on in my heart,” Veronica says. “So I held off on finalizing that decision. It was heartbreaking for me and for that family when I took Josiah home, but it was what I needed to do.”
She eventually told her family what was going on and they rallied around her. With more counseling, she created a list of people to call if she was having a rough day and needed some help. There were many bad days, but better days started coming around more often too. The days Veronica and Josiah came to Gateway were usually good ones. As Josiah grew older, he began telling Veronica about what he was learning in kids’ church. He also began to pray for her. “He’s so intuitive. He would know if I was having a bad day,” Veronica says. “And he would hug me and tell me he loved me, and that Jesus loved me. He would put his hands on me and pray simple prayers like ‘Jesus, please make Mommy better.’”
A few years later, Josiah asked if he could sit in “big church” with Veronica. She wasn’t sure why he wanted to be in the adult service with her, but she said okay. “Something happened when he joined me in big church. It strengthened me because he was by my side. We would hold hands and sing and pray together,” Veronica says. “I didn’t realize it then, but that’s when our relationship began to build. He stuck by me, and we truly bonded.”
Surrounded and encouraged by her family and friends at church, Veronica kept her son. “I never thought I’d be here and have my son with me. The support of people at Gateway has been instrumental,” Veronica says. “I never once felt judged for what I was going through.” Veronica and Josiah (now 10 years old) have been together consecutively for the past four years, and although healing from depression takes time, she is strong and fighting for her life and for her son.
“When Josiah was young, I didn’t ever take any pictures of the two of us together. I didn’t want to be in them.” Veronica says. “Now, one of my favorite things is to take pictures with Josiah. I post them on social media, and if I’m ever having a rough day, I look back over our pictures and remember all God has done. I see us as a family now.”
If you are struggling with postpartum depression, connect with Gateway Care at firstname.lastname@example.org.