To be honest, I’ve been dodging writing this article all week. Every time I sit down and put my fingers on the keyboard, I instantly find something else to do. All of a sudden, the fridge is overdue on being cleaned out, my closet needs to be organized, and I have to practice my eyeliner technique (even though I rarely wear makeup these days, much less eyeliner).
Perhaps I’ve been holding off on this piece, because let’s face it, who wants to admit their start to motherhood was less than ideal?
However, I truly feel like a part of my calling is to share my many ups and downs of being a mom, so that other women in the same walk of life know that they aren’t alone. That being said, now that I’ve run out of reasons to avoid the topic, I guess I better get to it.
I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. Some people grew up wanting to be a doctor, a teacher, heck…maybe even President; but me, I wanted to be a mom.
As far as I knew, becoming a parent seemed easier than learning how to tie your shoes. Therefore, my desire of joining the esteemed club of motherhood didn’t appear too far out of reach. However, when I decided to submit my admissions essay to the PPS (Prestigious Parenting Society), I wasn’t anticipating the hurdles I would have to conquer before getting accepted.
My journey to parenthood had a bit of a rocky start. A few years prior to conceiving our oldest, my husband and I had experienced a miscarriage, followed shortly after by a diagnosis of endometriosis. At the time, my dreams of becoming a mother seemed to be dwindling at a rather rapid pace, and there was nothing I could do about it.
I think it goes without saying, I wasn’t extremely optimistic that we would conceive. Still, JD assured me that God would not put it on my heart to become a mom and not bring it to be in some shape or form.
Two months after we decided to start trying for a baby, it happened. I can remember the exact moment I knew I was pregnant. It was the day before my 25th birthday, I was sitting in the living room painting my toenails (something I am actually really terrible at doing). After 30 minutes, I was almost done…then my phone rang. One thing lead to another, and just like that I had messed up THREE toes in less than three seconds.
I lost it. Straight up meltdown mode. Like a toddler who missed their afternoon nap.
Four days passed and I decided it was time to take a pregnancy test. I didn’t even need to look, I knew it was going to be positive. While I tend to get frustrated from time-to-time when I play nail salon, it rarely concludes in an all out sob-fest.
(Our obligatory iPhone photo with the positive pregnancy test.)
Over the months that followed, I was a product-researching, book-reading, clothes-shopping fool. I was determined to conquer motherhood, similar to a mountain climber hell-bent on touching the peak of Everest.
I just didn’t realize parenthood would be MY Everest.
Not many people know this about me, but after our first son was born, I struggled with a serious case of baby blues (and I’m not talking eye color). I think it’s because I have been ashamed to admit that I was not a “natural” straight out of the gate. As if saying out loud that I absolutely loathed those first few weeks of becoming a new mom, meant that I was a terrible human being. In fact, as I type these words, I am struggling to hold back tears knowing they will forever be in print.
For whatever reason, I thought having a baby would go something like this: Check in at the hospital. Receive an epidural. Within an hour, push out your baby. Baby snuggles you. You fall madly in love. You get discharged. You have a wonderful nights sleep. You wake feeling refreshed. You proceed to brunch with your handsome husband and new bundle of joy.
I wish I could go back in time and slap my pre-mommy self. In fact, I blame a significant portion of my baby blues on my naive mindset.
Believe it or not, our story did not go anything like the above. We checked in to the hospital at 5:00am and our bouncing baby boy didn’t grace us with his presence until 5:35pm…not AM. We were exhausted. The next two days spent in the hospital were a challenge, to say the least. If anyone knows us, they have probably heard me say that Noah absolutely HATED sleep when he was a newborn. I am in no way exaggerating when I say he never slept…like ever.
(…and Father of the Year goes to: my husband! Check out that skin-to-skin action AND those biceps. The only way that kid would get in a cat nap.)
When we checked out of the hospital, JD and I had slept maybe eight hours in the last three days. We were both in tears and completely terrified as we packed our bags to leave (we are both type a, and apparently they did give out instruction manuals when you go home). Neither of us could figure out the carseat, Noah would not stop crying, and we had no one there to guide us.
We were a mess.
After being stuck in rush hour traffic on a rainy Friday afternoon, we finally arrived back at home. We tried everything we could think of to get our son to sleep, but he refused. Once he finally calmed down, I decided to take a quick shower to scrub off the remainder of the tape residue from my IV and epidural.
That’s when it happened.
I was standing in the bathroom. One minute I was washing my face, the next, I couldn’t breathe. It felt like my lungs were collapsing. Naked as a jaybird, I jetted straight for the fan that was positioned in the corner of our bedroom. I stood there, letting the cold air cover me, forcing myself to take deep breaths. When I started to feel my chest expand with oxygen, I broke down in tears. I was an absolute train wreck (definitely not my most flattering moment). I recall thinking, “Did we make a mistake? Maybe we weren’t ready to have a baby.”
At that point, the only thing I knew left to do was pray. There, in the middle of our bedroom floor, finally cloaked in a my infamous towel dress, I got on my knees and had my husband pray over me.
The next couple of weeks were a complete blur. I was overwhelmed and overly tired. At night, JD and I would take turns staying up with Noah between nursing sessions. During the day, I napped every chance I could. Most days I rarely made it out of the bedroom except to stock up on food and water; and since Noah was born in the middle of December, we didn’t make much of an effort to get out of the house other than the regular follow-up doctor appointments.
I blame being cooped up as another contributing factor to my dismal demeanor. If no one else tells you this, GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Seriously. Get out.
Did you know, a week after you are discharged, you are supposed to fill out a Postpartum Depression questionnaire? Well, you are, and for good reason! It helps you identify the things you are feeling – and if you are anything like me, sometimes you need to see it in writing before you’ll believe it.
The day I filled mine out, I was washing sheets for the numerous time that day, due to the fact that they had fallen victim yet again to an unfortunately case of projectile spit up. I had handed off Noah to my darling Mother-in-law, and retreated to my room to complete the worksheet. I was dreading it. I honestly didn’t want to know the answer.
My total was only a few points shy of being considered depressed. I talked to JD about it, and forced myself to start talking walks around the block. Willing myself to get back into some sort of routine. Slowly, but surely, I began to feel like someone I recognized. All-in-all, it took me about a month to really feel like the “old” me; and about another two months to really begin to feel comfortable in my new role as a mommy. But it happened.
Looking back now, there are so many things I would have done differently. For starters, I wouldn’t have skipped the postpartum depression section in my pregnancy book. I would have gone outside more. I would have let the house go uncleaned. I would have taken joy in the smallest of victories, instead of feeling defeated when things didn’t go “according to plan.”
I would have asked for help.
So why does this story matter? Why do you care that I struggled through my first few months of motherhood?
Because, you need to know you’re not the only woman out there who has ever felt that way. Because, you need to know that I am just as human as the next person. Because, you need to know that being a mother doesn’t have to start out perfectly in order for you to be the perfect mom.
Your story is important. You story matters. So SHARE IT!! You never know, your story could be the one someone needs to hear to provide them with the encouragement they need to get them through the day.
Do you have a story you want to share? I want to hear it! Feel free to share in the comments below, or tag me in your own post. #breakthesilence