We’re getting really real, really fast on this blog.
I’d be lying if I said this post was easy to write or that I was comfortable being this vulnerable online but this has been something that needs to be addressed. It’s a feeling that started a couple months after Rhys was born, and has been lingering ever since. I’m also not convinced that I am the only person that has felt this way. So grab a coffee and a snack, cause it’s a long one!
Becoming a mother has always been the dream for me. There are countless home videos of me as a kid mothering my dolls and siblings. I have always loved children and being with them came naturally to me, like an instinct. Once I had Rhys, it was the most fulfilling feeling knowing that this was the start of my new life. This was the time I had so anxiously awaited for, and I was in absolute bliss.
But a couple of months in, amidst the dirty laundry and poopy diapers, something changed. I no longer felt that constant rush of joy that I had before. I felt empty, uneasy and lonely almost constantly (even though I was around people almost all the time). At first I chalked it up to lack of sleep, but eventually I just accepted that this was my new normal. I felt lost in my new life. I asked myself how becoming a mother, something I had wanted so badly, could cause me to feel like a stranger in my own body? It wasn’t until recently that I came to terms with the reality of the situation. That being a mother was making me depressed. This post is going to be all about how I lost, and then found, myself after having a baby.
Let me preface this post first by saying I’ve had anxiety and depression since I was 16 years old. I’ve spent years working on becoming aware of how I was feeling on a day-to-day basis. At this point in my life, I like to think I’m able to recognize when I start feeling unlike myself and out of the norm. My coping strategy has always been to take a look at my daily habits and make small changes where necessary. However, for the first time in a long time, I was unable to recognize how and why I was feeling the way I did. I was doing everything I thought I was supposed to as a mother, but getting out of bed every morning was becoming harder and harder to do. Feeling at a loss, I continued to do the same things everyday with the expectation that this feeling would magically go away on it’s own.
My pregnancy was very smooth, in the grand scheme of things. I had minimal morning sickness and felt really good up until about 35 weeks when my body started to get achy. Following that, my delivery was long (Hello, 24 hours!) but after the epidural it was virtually painless and easy. My recovery followed in suit and I was up and walking around within a day of giving birth. The whole process was the most positive experience and beyond what I could have asked for. I feel so lucky that this was how I became a mother, as I know not everyone has similar stories.
Once Rhys was born, the biggest struggle I faced was breastfeeding. He had a bad latch and dropped too much weight in the first couple of days so we started supplementing with formula. I had not prepared myself for the reality of how hard breastfeeding was going to be.
I see now that this was the start of losing myself, but hindsight is 20/20.
I became so determined to exclusively breastfeed Rhys that I felt like a failure with every bottle of formula I gave. I was uneducated yet trying so hard to fix this problem (I use the word problem lightly) and it nearly drove me crazy. I am fully aware this pressure was only brought on by myself because in reality, I had this amazing, healthy, growing baby boy that was being fed and getting everything he could possibly need. And that was all that mattered.
But I wanted more.
I wanted to be the mom who breastfed her baby. I wanted to be the mom who went out for long walks every day, ate healthy and bounced right back to her pre-pregnancy body right away, and always looked put together. I had created this image in my head of what I wanted to be and it was toxic. This image was definitely not what my life looked like. Instead, most days I didn’t get dressed, I had to force myself to find the time to eat anything because I had no appetite, a baby attached to me 24/7 who would only nap if he was being held, and there is an Elyse shaped indent in our couch now from the amount of time I spent sitting in the same spot over the last four months. And don’t even get me started on how often I showered, it’s embarrassing…
I have always considered myself a high performer. I worked two jobs over the last couple of years and always strived for personal growth, usually with success. To go from that to feeling like I was drowning as a mom was a huge shock to my system. Instead of getting up every morning and feeling like my battles for the day were win-able, I was waking up exhausted and defeated, devoting all of my time and energy into this tiny human which was now my responsibility. I felt like I had no time left for all of the the things that use to make me happy. I had lost myself to the point of depression and I felt like a stranger in my own body. Fast forward to four months later and I am now finally pulling myself out of this hole.
While devoting my time and energy into raising Rhys is what I love doing, I’ve come to realize that it shouldn’t mean giving up everything else in my life. Instead, I am working towards incorporating the things that mattered to me pre-baby, while creating a life with my amazing new family. Because let’s be honest, sitting around waiting for the next diaper change or feeding isn’t fun for anyone.
So here is to new beginnings.
To finding new routines and trying new things.
To working towards a more positive self talk and a more realistic view on life.
Waking up each morning with the will to take on the challenges of the day, and being able to laugh when things go terribly wrong.
I hope my story will give those going through similar things some guidance and encouragement, knowing that you are not alone. No one should have to go through things alone and sometimes it’s nice to just hear others are feeling the same way as you.
If you are a new mom and going through the struggles of lonliness and motherhood, I want you to read this next part very carefully.
You are strong.
You can do this.
We are going to get through it, together.
Talk soon xoxo