Adjusting to parenthood is tough. I knew it would be, but for some reason when I got pregnant, I felt that I would adjust in a matter of months after my baby was born. I got all of my party years out of my system in my 20’s and early 30’s, and I felt ready (well as much as you can be) to have a child.
When my baby was born, there was such a mix of emotions. When she popped out I promised her right away that I would do right by her and try my best every day for her. I was also fearful of the unknown. Fearful of the small things, like her belly button getting infected (because we can all agree that the umbilical cord drying up and falling off is an odd process) and the big things, like wondering if she had any secret illnesses that I couldn’t see.
During my maternity leave, I made the best of going to playgroups and classes, and connecting with friends who were also off with their little ones. Each month I felt like I had small moments of peace, but never really got my footing as every few weeks posed a new challenge that threw me for a loop (enter teething, sleep regressions, not sleeping in general, strings of bad weather that had us housebound). Right at the end of my mat leave, I began to find my footing. We went for hikes and I was getting into shape again without trying too hard. Baby and I were getting into a place of harmony and dare I say pure fun, right around 12 months. I really enjoyed that time.
Then, I went back to work full time.
For the first few weeks, things seemed fine. I made it to work, worked my job, then came home to my baby, did bathtime, bedtime and cleaned the house. It seemed like I could do it. Then, each day began to feel like I was running a marathon before I even made it to work. I had to wake up early to get myself ready before my baby woke up, get her ready and off to daycare. At work, I began to feel guilty about not being home with her – and my mind began to crumble. I started to feel like a bad mom, and a bad employee. Those thoughts snowballed into me feeling like I was a bad wife, a bad friend, a bad daughter, a bad sister, and even a bad person.
One day, after what felt like the longest day of life, I came home and felt like a total failure. I don’t even remember what was said to me that evening or what made me tip, but I remember thinking and saying aloud “what else can I fail at today?” Each day began to feel like I was just running into one failure after the next. I remember thinking “I hate this.”
Thankful that I had done some previous awareness and mindfulness work, I saw that this was much more than me just “having a bad day”. I began to recognize that these thoughts, although common, were not normal. I began to push away friends and not want to talk about anything. That’s when I knew I had to call for some professional help. My personality began to change, and I wasn’t ready to let go of the fun confident person I know I am deep down inside.
It was tough for me to do, babbling (ok, full out crying) on the phone to get an appointment with a therapist through my work’s employee assistance program. But now, after this wave of therapy sessions, I see it was the best thing I did.
After my first session, I was shocked at the initial diagnosis of how I was feeling. The words tumbled out of her mouth and hit me like a ton of bricks. “Post-partum depression”.
How could I have it? I made it past the first year so I felt like this wasn’t possible. But really, it can strike whenever there is a stress in a mom’s life – and for me it was when I was struggling to find a balance of being a working mom.
Even my doctor admitted that she doesn’t understand how women even do it these days. I mean, how much can be on one person’s plate? The things that fall by the wayside are the things that we typically energize us – like having coffee with friends or taking time to go to a class – pretty much anything that counts as “personal time”. Without this time, we begin to lose ourselves and become slaves to the “grind” of life. We lose perspective a bit – and it can be a scary place.
It was truly amazing as I began to open up to those around me what I was going through. Many moms feel so overwhelmed and struggle to find themselves in the sea of never ending laundry and dishes. The best thing to do, is not to suffer in silence. Talking to someone really does help – and for many of us, good help is only a phone call away.
Now that I’m on the other side of therapy (for now) I know the importance of reaching out for help, and trying to find time each day to move my body in some capacity. And I also see the importance of not giving yourself too much shit for not reaching any given goal in a day. Some days are just better than others. It’s just important not to beat yourself up over it.
So the healthy thing I did here was to reach out. Talk to someone. Sort through thoughts that were becoming a problem by taking me away from what I love in life.
If you’re in the same boat as me, and feeling like you’re not enough, remember that you are, And if you can’t believe it, talk to someone – I promise, it helps.
Sharing this took a lot for me as obviously this is deeply personal – but I just feel like if I put this out there and if one person reads this, relates to it and ends up calling for some therapy/coaching or whatever – then it’s worth me putting my heart out there.
I’m just trying to pay it forward to the community of moms out there – because this shit is real. And it’s tough, and amazing, and a struggle, and so rewarding.
And who knows, maybe one day, I’ll do it all again.