Here’s what I knew… I was ready, at close to thirty years old, to become a mom. After years of working as an early educator, with extensive knowledge on child development, I was not the least bit intimidated by bringing baby home. As the eldest, my whole life I heard things like, “You will be such a good mom one day. You were made to be a mom”. And as a partner, I had given endlessly over the course of ten-years to ensure our relationship was resilient and prepared to serve as the foundation for our future family.
Here’s what actually happened…Leo, our baby boy, arrived at exactly 40 weeks gestation. After a traumatic and difficult birth, all of my confidence about becoming a mom seemed to vanish. The reality of motherhood was far from what I had imaged and what I had observed on social media and television. In truth, motherhood hit me (the overly prepared) with shocking force.
What Hit first?
Sheer and utter exhaustion, a kind that even all-nighters through university cannot possibly prepare you for. On virtually no sleep, my husband and I muddled through the first week, struggling to get Leo to breastfeed. Between feeding tubes, breast pumps, and a tongue-tie, things were far from what I imaged them to be. I also was in loads of physical pain, more than I thought I would be. Obviously I knew there would be some pain, I just did not expect to be in tears over needing to go to the washroom. Aside from being in physical pain, my heart also hurt. Although I hated to admit this, because of how prepared I thought I was adjusting to motherhood was proving to be difficult for me.
To clarify, I was not suffering from post-partum depression. I completed checklist after checklist, and talked with my midwife to make sure I was aware of the markers. I was however, grieving the loss of my old life. I missed my friends, I missed my career, I missed my independence, I missed my husband, I missed my hobbies. I wondered why I was not like #bestillmyheart but rather #whydidwedothis? After much reflection, what I realize now is that I was drastically under prepared for the overwhelming sense of loss of self that I would experience when becoming a mom.
The One-year Report
Now that Leo is 14 months old, I feel I have somewhat of a grasp on my new sense of self. This sense of self includes some old identifiers and a few new ones. Being able to eventually connect some parts of my old life with this new mom persona has helped me feel as though I have a better handle on, remembering who I am and who I want to be in this life. I now realize that nothing in the world could have prepared me for motherhood. Though, I wish I had been slightly less concerned with swaddling blankets and more attentive to how my life, relationships and identity were about to be radically altered.
So Now What?
Do not be afraid to voice your challenges adjusting to motherhood! It does not mean you are not ‘good enough’, meant to be a mom, or suffering beyond just having trouble swallowing the magnitude of your new identity. What I found most helpful, were those friends that were there as listeners. I did not want someone to vacuum my house or fold my laundry; I just wanted to know that I was not alone. I hope if you are reading this today, attempting to blend the old you with the new you, you find reassurance in knowing two things: with each day the new you gets better and better, and you are truly not alone.
Lastly, one book that I have found to be immensely powerful as a new mom (given to me by my own mom for Christmas) is Reva Seth’s 2014 book entitled The MomShift: Women Share their Stories of Career Success After Having Children. I highly recommend this read to help support and uplift a new mom.
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