In December I went through the monumental change of entering motherhood. When I talk to friends and family who went through this before me, and I ask them why they didn’t prepare me, they say that they did. I believe they must have, but somewhere between the excitement of finally becoming a parent and the pregnancy hormones, I must not have heard them (nature probably does this on purpose). Also, I know now that nothing and no one could have completely prepared me.
I felt so fortunate that my pregnancy went smoothly for the most part. Sure, I had the aches, pains, and fatigue of literally growing a human, but outside of that, I felt grateful that my list of complaints was relatively short and not too bothersome. Labor, delivery, and the few weeks after, however, were a whole different story.
For starters, my labor and delivery were quite different than I had planned. Again, despite the difficulties I faced during that process, I mostly counted myself lucky since my little one and I made it through all of that safely and I had my supportive husband by my side every step of the way.
The real challenge began after coming home. Prior to delivery, I felt incredibly prepared to bring my little one home and care for him. Once it finally happened though, the “not good enough stuff” started creeping in. Those thoughts coupled with sleep deprivation, the trauma of childbirth (which is overly normalized), and the emotional roller coaster I was on (the hormonal shift is major), resulted in me encountering what was probably the hardest thing I have ever been through mentally, emotionally, and physically. And if I’m being completely honest, and I want to be, the self-judgment did not help.
I did not feel like myself. I often found myself perplexed by what was happening within me. My thoughts did not feel like my own. I didn’t recognize this person who was always on the brink of tears. I would look at the changes my body had gone through and feel a sense of grief. Then I got tired of it. I started texting and calling the moms I knew. I needed support, I needed people who could relate, and I needed reassurance that I was not alone.
I believe it is my village and my experiences within the mental health field that helped me get through. Thanks to the amazing people in my life and my own work that I’ve done, I had the skills to slow myself down, exercise some self-compassion, and shift my thinking.
Experiences in life can be complicated. As much as I struggled those first few weeks, there’s beauty in them too. My husband and I became stronger in our relationship through this. The body that doesn’t look the same (and it’s okay) gave us our son. Whenever I look at him in my arms, I feel so full of love and the connection I have with him is beyond anything I could have dreamed. I’m stronger for having had this experience.
I’m able to be in this place now because I had people who helped me to feel seen and heard. I can’t wait to do that for other mamas out there or for anyone that is trying to navigate the complexities of the things that they have been through.
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