I never planned on sharing my postpartum journey on a public forum. Not that I am trying to hide anything (I will openly talk about my struggle to encourage any new moms that I meet and most of my family/friends know about my experience as well); I just think for awhile I was a bit ashamed and embarrassed by some of the feelings and thoughts that I had during the first 8(ish) weeks of London's life. It has been on my heart for some time now to share my experience. If even one mom can find hope and encouragement from my story, then I will be overjoyed!
The calm before the storm.
My pregnancy was fairly seamless and a pretty beautiful experience for me. I embraced my new curves and actually felt super sexy and womanly. I loved the idea that I was harvesting this tiny being, and I did whatever I could to stay healthy by eating well and working out as much as possible. I read the books, watched the videos, decorated the nursery to be just perfect for baby's arrival and had visions of her sleeping like an angel in her new crib (which only took five hours to put together!)
“Reflecting on my thoughts at the time, I realize how ignorant I was to think I had a choice in the matter at all.”
My husband and I were as "green" as any other first-time parents -- super naive and excited to tackle another challenge called 'parenthood' together. Of course, I had heard about PPD and the "baby blues," but I actually remember thinking "that won't happen to me -- I'm too happy of a person!" Reflecting on my thoughts at the time, I realize how ignorant I was to think I had a choice in the matter at all.
The first few days after we returned home are such a blur as they are, I'm sure, for all first-time parents. We were fortunate to have my mother and sister with us to help. They cooked, cleaned, did laundry and just mainly kept our household going... I'm not sure we could have managed without them! I had a really tough time trying to breastfeed. I was frustrated, London was hungry and frustrated and I just felt like I was already failing at the whole motherhood thing. Thankfully, my husband was super supportive and didn't push or pressure me to breastfeed (probably because he knew how stressed I already was!), he just wanted me to do whatever I felt comfortable doing.
Once we made the decision to completely go the formula route, I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I had always envisioned myself breastfeeding our baby and being able to have that bonding experience, but it just didn't work for us and I've come to realize that that's okay. London was thriving as a perfectly healthy baby... and that's all that mattered.
Now, for the crying. I don't remember a lot from the first few months. Chalk it up to sleep deprivation, PTSD (semi-joking) or God simply protecting me from myself, but I definitely remember the TEARS. I'm not talking about London either. I mean, yes of course she cried but she was handling her new world much better than her mom was!
“It took an honest conversation with my best friend of 15+ years for me to realize that I may need to talk to someone about what I was going through.”
Suddenly, I could not ward off feelings of anxiety, fear, pressure, and I was worried about absolutely everything. The crying would happen anytime, any place, for no particular reason. Call me selfish, but I even missed my "me" time and time alone with my husband. I recall saying through tears, "I can't do this! I don't even want to be a mom!" The fact that I actually spoke those words out loud makes me want to weep. Anyone who knows me well, knows I have always wanted to be a mother. The truth is, I just wasn't myself. It took an honest conversation with my best friend of 15+ years for me to realize that I may need to talk to someone about what I was going through.
You are not alone.
“Having these thoughts/feelings doesn't mean that you do not love your baby. It doesn't mean you're weak and not cut out for motherhood.”
Handling life as a new mother is terrifying. It can leave you feeling lonely, defeated and painfully overwhelmed. The most important thing I did for London and for myself was to talk through my feelings of anxiety, fear and moments of pure insanity. If you are struggling with some of the same thoughts and feelings that I had... I just want to let you know that you are not alone. Reach out and ask for help or just ask someone you trust to listen to your worries. Also (I feel like this has to be said), having these thoughts/feelings doesn't mean that you do not love your baby. It doesn't mean you're weak and not cut out for motherhood. We all process things differently -- physically, mentally and emotionally, and we must acknowledge and respect every process. Grab a moment to yourself and keep repeating, "You're doing better than you think you are..." because you are strong and able to overcome.