Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional and by writing this post, I am NOT sharing any medical opinion. I am merely sharing my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE and not making any claims on behalf of anyone. These are all my personal experiences and opinions.
Please consult a professional if you seem to be having similar feelings or think you are suffering from postpartum.
What I will be talking about here is extremely personal and sharing it in itself is a huge deal for me. I urge you to be sensitive not only to what I share here but acknowledge that there are other moms out there feeling the same way and be sensitive towards them too.
Pregnancy and motherhood though beautiful can also be one of the most life changing events to occur in a woman’s life. It comes with a lot of positives but also some very overwhelming moments.
Childbirth can be daunting, both physically and emotionally. More emotionally I would think. Your body and mind are under so much pressure, right?
For those of you who’ve followed my pregnancy journey, already know that I am what we now refer to as a ‘lockdown mom’. I delivered in the midst of a pandemic and spent my entire third trimester confined to my home. While it was hard at first, I seemed to find a routine and was able to occupy myself with work. But i’ll be honest, on most days however hard I tried not to, a sense of fear and anxiety crept in. I would feel anxious about the pandemic and how I would possibly give birth in the midst of one. At the time there were strict rules on whether or not the father could be in the OT when the baby is born, you were in the hospital for limited days because of the risk, also there were instances wherein hospitals had to turn away mothers in labour because most beds were taken into the Covid wards. The thought of having to give birth alone without my husband by my side with so much uncertainty surrounding me was scary. No wait, it was downright terrifying!
Post birth the anxiousness of being a new parent, made me constantly doubt whether I would be a good mom and whether I would be able to care for this new life, whether I was truly ready! Motherhood is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but it comes with a constant feeling of self-doubt that lurks in the deep corners of your subconscious. At least I experienced this. And it made me feel very isolated and alone even while I was surrounded by the most loving and supportive family and friends.
While I managed my feelings pretty well before, it was post birth that I found myself caught in the midst of feelings that I did not fully understand.
I’m extremely organized as a person and the OCD (hahaha!) also ensures everything is in order. I did a ton of reading and prepping before I gave birth and felt like I was ready. Let’s put it this way, I like being in control and so when I realised that my baby is a person of his own and cannot be expected to behave by the book, it threw me off guard and led to anxiety and tears.
The first night back home was hard to say the least. I remember making a call to the doctor at 12:45am because my son wanted to feed every 15 minutes and I assumed that he was over-feeding and would probably get sick because of constantly feeding. I forgot about all the reading I had done on cluster feeding and how it was absolutely normal initially. My nurse would try to calm me down but nothing helped. I would wake up at night in pain from my stitches and just want to cry. Slowly the feeds didn’t worry me as much but then I started doubting everything I did – am I using the right massage oil, am I treating cradle cap correctly, am I using the correct lotion brands, is he feeding enough, is he sleeping enough, pooping enough, peeing enough, is he achieving his milestones, and the more I read about things the more I’d end up assuming the worst – looking things up in books or on Google had me drowning in this sea of information… but the worry? It didn’t end. With every stage there are a new set of worries. Or maybe when you’re a mum the worrying never truly stops. I’m assuming it is the latter.
I was always tired because I wasn’t getting enough rest and was irritable. I kept thinking that I was not ready to be a mother and that I am not doing enough.
THAT is the worst feeling, the feeling that you’re not doing enough. The feeling that you are not giving your child what he/she needs and deserves.
There were days when I’d wake up completely lost. I didn’t recognize this person. I found myself slacking at work, not being able to meet deadlines, having to pass off on opportunities and delay goals. I wasn’t taking care of myself or finding time to just wind-down when baby was with his grandparents or other relatives. I wasn’t feeling as active and I just didn’t feel my best physically and mentally. I would want to hang out with my girls but Covid combined with extreme fatigue made sure that didn’t happen either. I’d hate looking in the mirror because I did not recognize this person, stretched out, puffy and most often looking like a mess.
And then I would feel guilty because I’d wonder if these thoughts made me a ‘bad mom’. I would beat myself up for having these thoughts – how can anything be more important to me than spending time with my baby. Why do I not want to spend all my time with this little one? How can I be tired? How can I want a break? Isn’t this what being a mother is?
A huge part of me that made me, ME was missing and I couldn’t put the pieces to this puzzle together. I wondered why I’d find myself in a constant state of frenzy, why am I so anxious and why am I putting so much pressure on myself. How do all these other moms out there have it together? How are they managing and coping with everything. HOW? Why am I so lost? Was it really that hard? Or am I building this up in my head? I am not the first woman to bear children and I’m certainly not going to be the last. How is everyone else managing and not losing their mind?
While my mind played these tricks on me, the outside world often let me feel judged. Is this how you plan to do it? You should be doing this. This is an absolute no-no. The constant opinions and reactions to my decisions added to the self-doubt. Why is it that we are so judgmental of what others do? As a new mom, I was already overwhelmed and really didn’t need the extra pressure. The funny thing is that my family understood this but everyone else thought they needed to let me know what they thought. Constantly.
I know that this has ended up sounding like a whole rant. But it is the raw, unfiltered truth of how I felt and sometimes still feel. These are just a few instances when I have felt alone and scared and confused. But acknowledging that what I was going through for the first few weeks was clinically referred to as ‘baby blues’ and is common in mothers post partum, helped me help myself.
I slowly realised that a happy mamma makes for a happy baby. And that is what matters.
I acknowledged that I was falling down a rabbit hole that I was digging my self. I needed to stop.
Know that it is okay to feel this way and that you can talk about it.
Do your best mama, because you are doing amazing.
‘Baby Blues’ and ‘Postpartum depression’ are both real and anyone could be going through it.
Here is a little information via Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.org) that could help you educate yourself a little.
Childbirth, I know I am repeating this, but it is true, is hard and takes a toll on you. But it is also beautiful and while I have mentioned all the things that I have struggled with, let me also share with you that it has been fulfilling in so many ways and helped me find a new side to me. A nurturing side, and a hidden tigress that emerges whenever needed. A mommy instinct that kicks in when I need it most and above all a love so strong, I didn’t know I was capable of feeling.
Another thing I realised is that IT IS OKAY TO NOT HAVE IT TOGETHER AND IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. I AM NOT ALONE, and while my battles may be different from other mothers, everyone is fighting theirs.
In the bigger picture I am raising a healthy and happy baby (atleast that’s the goal!) and that is what matters. To my child I am the best mother and so I need to strive to be the version of the mother I wish to be. Whatever that might be.
There should be no guilt in focusing on my needs and myself.
I love working, and it is an integral part if what makes me, me and I love being a mamma to my little boy so I have decided to that guilt will creep in but I have to split my day and prioritize. My husband who has been amazing and such a pillar of strength while I learn to navigate motherhood, once told me, ‘Why is it that women feel this immense guilt? When we as fathers step out everyday to go to work, we do not feel ‘guilt’ but instead a sense of responsibility to our family and ourselves, so why do you need to feel that way. We as men believe that our children will be proud to see their father go out and work and achieve success in his chosen field. Then why is it different for a mom? Why is she not supposed to do the same and why is there so much stigma, guilt and pressure? If she chooses to work good for her and if she chooses to stay home that’s also okay. It is her choice.’ ‘Choice’ being the key word! You do you mamma!
I think about this often and then I realised. Mom guilt is conditioned into us. We are told that we are to fit into what society thinks the criteria of being a good mother is and so we unknowingly strive to be that. Whereas there is no right and no wrong with motherhood – just what works for you and your baby. When I think about the kind of son I want to raise, I realise that by falling pray to this age-old regressive way of thinking, I am conditioning him and future generations too. I want to raise a boy who thinks I am a good mamma because I choose him while choosing myself too, that I am there for him always but also take care of myself. That I am ambitious and have goals, and that I want him to have the same!
The struggles I faced with accepting my new self made me understand that I was constantly trying to hold on to a part of me that was in the past and while holding on to certain things is fine, it was also stopping me from embracing the new. I had goals pre-baby and now those goals were still there but took on a new meaning. When I work on my health and body, I need to stop picturing the old version of myself but focus on embracing this new body with its curves and stretch marks and surgery scars because you know what, this body made my baby, nurtured it for nine whole months and continues to provide nutrition to him 8 months postpartum. Exercise and loose your baby weight, but make it a positive process. And do it on your own terms.
There are so many aspects that I have probably not even touched upon – breast-feeding and everyone’s opinions on it, whether you delivered vaginally or had a C-section, and the judgment that comes with it. Hahaha, feel me?
But to all the mammas out there, we don’t need to explain our decisions and we do not need to have it together everyday. You can have a bunch of bad days and then some good too. You can be tired and want a day off. You can achieve the goals you’ve set out to achieve, when you are ready. You are amazing and there is no better mamma for your baby than you.
Motherhood is beautiful and I am enjoying every bit of it. I am back to work full time and it took me 7.5 months to get here, but I am here! I have support back home and I know my baby is loved and taken care of when I step out for a few hours each day. I have realised the value of time management. I have learned to re-align my goals. I have moved my work space to a place 5 minutes walking distance from my home which makes me feel secure when I’m working because I know I can get home when needed. My husband and I dedicate our mornings to our boy – we read, play and have breakfast together. But nothing beats the joy of coming home before he wakes up from his afternoon nap and see him smile from his cot as he looks up at me. My evenings are spent working out and then joining him in the park, followed by dinner and his bedtime routine. My husband and I consciously make sure we spend quality time with him. We’ve also realised the importance of focusing on our own relationship. We aim at making date night happen atleast once in two weeks. I’ll be honest though, sometimes that ends up being popcorn and a good movie as we snuggle on the couch once baby is asleep. But we make it happen – time for ourselves.
I’m finding my groove, slowly and steadily. I’m still figuring it out but I’m learning to trust myself more.
YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL MAMA, BECAUSE WHY THE HELL NOT!!!
An affirmation I repeat everyday:
I AM A WOMAN
I AM A MOM
I AM STRONG
I AM BEAUTIFUL
I AM AMBITIOUS
I AM PATIENT
I AM DOING MY BEST
If you're feeling this way or have felt like this way, reach out in the comments below. Let's chat.
I'd like to be here for you, just like the mamas out there who've been there for me and continue to be there for me (you know who you are).
- Veronna D
Photo credits: Cover via Shawna Clingerman (pinterest); Inside image via cabin creative (pinterest)