I’ve learned a lot in these past 7 weeks since I’ve posted last. I’ve learned that a “good mom” has bad days and great days, normal days and overwhelming days, perfect days and trying days, supermom days and just regular mom days, very real and crazy mom days. And it’s all absolutely normal. Every extreme is perfectly perfect in its own way. This mom gig is hard…and my whole life changed in the blink of an eye….well, in 16 hours of labor, actually. But, we will get to that part shortly. My point here is that I’ve had to change every expectation of what motherhood “should” look like for me, and accept what it is. As imperfect and messy as some days are…I wouldn’t trade it for the absolutely perfect moments that I get to share with my perfect tiny human. She’s my everything, and that’s why it’s so hard sometimes.
Lilly Kate made her grand entrance on May 25th. It was a relatively uncomplicated labor. My body knew exactly what to do, although I was full of fear and anxiety. She is absolutely perfect in every way. I had a wonderful birth experience, and was surrounded by love and support through the process. The hospital staff was amazing, I had wonderful nurses and specialists that helped me learn how to care for Lilly. From diapering (which I had never done), to breastfeeding, to general dos and don’ts. I was very well supported. But, then….they send you home with this teeny tiny helpless and fragile thing that is 100% dependent on you for EVERYTHING. They pretty much wave and smile saying “don’t fuck it up!” Talk about REAL fear!
Of course, Joe’s family is crazy supportive, and my recovery family is ahhh-mazing! They brought us meals, helped me with the baby so I could catch up on laundry, dishes, sweeping, etc… made sure that we had everything we needed for us and for the baby. We didn’t want for anything! Blessed indeed! But, there was this sinking feeling inside of me…like I was surely going to mess this up…
Pospartum depression is such a big umbrella for feelings that can be so different. I just like to call it postpartum hormotional experiences, makes it less clinical. I don’t have overwhelming sadness or feel like life isn’t worth living…in fact I have more purpose in my life than I have ever had. My postpartum emotions have presented more as overwhelming fear and anxiety….which again, (after discussing with my OB) is absolutely normal for a first time new mom. Everything scares me…is she eating too much, is she eating enough, is her diaper too tight, what are the long term effects of this gas medicine, if I leave her with Joe’s parents too often they will think I’m a bad mom, do I need to keep her awake so she will sleep at night, does she have good sleeping patterns, is she happy, why is she making that face, does she know that Joe uses the “f” word way too much…. OMG IT NEVER STOPS!!! But, I had to realize this is what makes me a GOOD mom….I just have to keep it in check so that it doesn’t affect my health, well being, or ability to see the fear for what it is…..which is a normal reaction to my life changing completely, and being personally responsible for keeping her happy, healthy, clean, and fed….and also not raising her to be an asshole. That’s a lot of pressure. I know it will get easier, I am finding a routine with her, and I have to remind myself to RELAX. No matter what, as long as she is loved and safe…..everything else is just details.
Moving on to the second presentation of my post partum hormotional moments….learning to love my post partum body AS IS. Which is EXTREMELY difficult with my immediate circle of family and friends. Almost everyone I know is extremely fit and active. They are all training for some race, competition, event, or something….And then I look in the mirror and find myself comparing …. Facebook and Instagram have become places where I beat myself up for not being back to my pre-pregnancy weight yet, or not looking like this new mom yet, or seeing my family out achieving goals that I am not capable of yet. It’s kinda twisted that I still open these apps when I know it will only make me feel bad! I have to let go, let go of the comparisons, the expectations, and the idea that I need to look or perform like someone else to be ok. “Comparison is the thief of joy”. My body just made a PERSON….a HUMAN… I can’t expect to just bounce back overnight. I’m also 35 years old, comparing myself to people half my age…literally. I’ve had to completely adjust my expectations of my post partum body. I don’t do it perfectly, but I am learning to reach out when I have those bad days and feel depressed. I’m learning to share my feelings with my husband and other moms. I’m learning that this is all completely normal.
And that is OK! My main focus has to be more about how I feel, not how I look. I eat well, so I have plenty of energy. I exercise for 30 minutes every day, so I sleep well and it boosts my mood and self-esteem. The balance for me is in accepting my body as it is today, imperfect and “different”….but also putting in the work to make it healthy and strong for the RIGHT REASONS. Not for shame or insecurity…but because I want to feel great every day, get back to the activities that I love, and I want to feel confident and sexy for my husband. I am learning to ENJOY exercise again, not do it to punish myself or to achieve some unrealistic expectation. I’m learning that I waste the days that I focus on the future….”enjoying the journey” or some dumb cliche thing like that. She’s growing too fast to waste any days.
Having a baby is joyous, exciting, terrifying, fulfilling, and challenging. It is the single best thing I have ever done in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have hard days, and super awesome amazing days. It’s all part of the journey, this absolutely amazing journey of being a MOM. It’s crazy messy, but it’s wonderful. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to watch Lilly grow and learn, and for Joe and I to teach her everything along the way. Can’t wait to chronicle the journey here as well.