i suppose this is a lot what newfound motherhood feels like… to me. those imaginary enemies are the worrisome thoughts that flood your mind – things that might happen to your new family, all of the bad things you think about yourself that may put you down, and comparing yourself to other mothers. your shadow is the part of you whom you used to be before your baby entered your world. it’s always there… but somehow it’s not you anymore, just a dark reminder of yourself.
there are so many good things that outweigh the bad, but i think having a grasp on what isn’t so positive can oftentimes make you appreciate what is good. everyone says that you’ll love your body more when you have a baby because what it can do, but i don’t think that’s true. not yet, anyway. i have cried in the shower more times than i can count – sad for what my body has become. worried that i’m not attractive to my husband anymore, and comparing myself to what i looked like before. i think this is one of those things that takes time and requires you to come to terms and acceptance yourself. of course i have a loving husband who still finds me attractive. of course my body did this amazing thing and created a miracle. of course i don’t look the same as before and it will take a bit to earn that body back. i get it.
i think it’s important to discuss and share the harder aspects of becoming a mother without making it seem like all the good things don’t matter. for me, being real and open and honest about all the shit things (i use the word struggle too much and not everything is necessarily a struggle) we go through is a way of healing. i also like reading about people with real stories and experiences. that bull shit positive attitude sometimes makes me angry and makes me feel like i’m not as good as everyone – like “oh, i don’t feel that way. am i a bad mom? am i the only one who feels this way?”
and it’s not just about my body. yes, that is a large issue with me. i knew that this journey into motherhood would bring me challenges regarding my image. it’s a whole lot of everything. becoming a mother made me feel like i put on new glasses – glasses that can see everything; the way other mothers judge you for what you do or don’t do, the over analytical thoughts you have when you do something for your child while wondering how and if this will affect him negatively for the rest of his life, and just so many other things you didn’t see so clearly before.
in the “spectrum” of births, i would admit that mine was a smooth one. while i didn’t trudge through the worst, i was still in pain and it was no piece of cake. i just have to say that no matter how your birth went, whether or not your baby slid out after three hours or you labored for days or your baby came out of your vagina or your stomach or WHATEVER – you are strong. we women do what men cannot. and don’t let anyone else’s story affect how you feel about yours.
i see why a lot of moms don’t reach out for help when they have postpartum depression. it’s because so many moms like to project the good side of their lives to the public and when you’re sitting at home feeling like the worst mother alive for no reason at all, it’s scary to reach out in fear of being judged. “it’s your fault that this is happening, and asking someone for help will only reiterate the fact.” i’ve thought this multiple times. i’ve put myself out there anonymously online asking for help and advice and more often than not, i regret it and wish i never said anything. mothers comment back saying something along the lines of “oh you should do this and this. it’s because you’re not doing this right why this is happening.” reading that can really make you wonder if you made a huge mistake becoming a mom – like, how on earth could i have brought this beautiful baby boy here when i can’t seem to do anything right.
and to all the moms out there who feel this way – as long as you love your baby you are doing it right. shit happens. there are days where you will want to pull your hair out. there are also days where you feel like you have all of your shit together, and those days make it worth it. the first month and a half is the hardest because you have this tiny little human who is completely depending on you and other than the sweet cuddles, there seems to be no “reward” – but then he smiles at you and all of those thoughts go away. he’s showing you that all of those sleepless nights and body aches and frustrations are worth it.
Forest will be ten weeks this week. i remember having ten weeks left until my due date and now, as i type this, i am nursing a sweet little boy and sharing my feelings with the world. i remember going through those first weeks thinking how awesome and lucky i was to not have postpartum depression. i was still in a stressed out bliss mode from having a new baby. i wanted to have my placenta encapsulated, but that didn’t work out due to there being meconium overload inside of me before he was born. i was hoping to take those pills to help with signs of PPD, but i felt fine and didn’t feel anything until maybe 3 weeks ago. then it was like i was hit by a ton of bricks. it’s like all of a sudden my hormones slammed on the gas and i was flooded with ridiculous emotions.
i got mad at arnold. i got mad at forest. i got mad at myself and everyone around me. how can anyone know how i was feeling? why won’t everyone just shut the F up with their unsolicited advice? why won’t my baby stop crying? why can’t i reach out without feeling like i’m doing something wrong? why am i still fat? and the guilt. nothing will make you feel more like a terrible mother and person than when you start to resent your baby. i love forest with all of my heart, but the stress and hormones and everything else made me a mess, and when you have a second to calm down and realize “this baby needs me and he’s doing what he does because he is helpless and he needs you” – you will feel the worst you have ever felt in your life, thinking “how can i feel this way? only a terrible mother would feel that way.” but you know what? i bet every mom has moments where they feel that way. it’s normal. just walk away, breathe, and then come back and snuggle your baby.
i was staring to not take care of myself because any effort towards me and not my baby was selfish. i didn’t want to leave the house by myself – i felt guilty leaving forest with arnold because he needs me to eat and burdening anyone with a crying baby is stressful. i didn’t want to leave the house with forest because anytime he cried, i would instantly feel a tingle down my back and an urge to fix it, as well as being self-conscious about being that mom with a crying baby. i still can’t nurse him in public. we are part of a society that preaches breast is best but GOD FORBID you do it in public. a slew of thoughts and feelings that just add to the helplessness.
and then there comes the feeling of self loathing. i thought that with breastfeeding and my previously fast metabolism, i would just zip down to my pre-baby weight fast. yeah, considering i gained like 75# while pregnant (which is like 60% of what i weighed before…), that was silly. but i was starting to feel good about myself. “yeah! i’m losing a consistent 5# a week, i can see my ankles again, and my stomach is shrinking!” and then someone (i won’t say who) starts telling me how chubby i look and that i still have a little ways to go or my favorite, which was out of nowhere “don’t worry… you still have time to lose all that weight but focus on your baby and don’t worry about it.” OKAY – i wasn’t thinking about it much until you brought it up and made me feel like shit and i thought i was doing a good job of putting 150% of my efforts into my baby… but okay.
i realize this seems like a post of venting, and it sort of is, but it is also to maybe reach out to moms who also feel this way and let you know you’re not alone.