“I’m going to give you the name of a couple therapists who specialize in post partum therapy” this is what my OBGYN said to me at my six week check up. I had to fill out a survey and then spoke to her about how the past six weeks had gone. At the end of talking she recommended that I go to post partum counseling. She felt that I wasn’t full on post partum depression yet but that I needed to at least talk to someone. I agreed with her. My anxious feeling dealing with Eva was getting stronger and stronger. It was pretty bad when we got home with Eva. In the first four or five days I maybe got four or five hours of sleep. I waited to go to the bathroom until I was going to burst because I felt like I was a bad mother for leaving Eva. I would break down crying because I felt like I was just given a prison sentence and not an extraordinary gift.
I had wonderful friends and family offer help almost everyday but I would lie and say that things were going really well and I didn’t need anything. When in actuality I wanted to yell that I was awful at being a mother. There were moments that I would look at this blob who had taken over every part of my life and wonder, “Am I really cut out to be a mom?!” “Can I do this for the rest of my life?!”. It was so hard. I knew that becoming a mom and giving yourself over to a little human was going to be difficult and down right cruel some days, but damn. If it’s not giving cuddles for comfort, it’s nursing. If it’s not swaddling, it’s bouncing for an hour on the yoga ball. If it’s not screaming in my ear because she’s hot, it’s puking all over me so I look like a Jackson Pollock. It was one thing after another every single minute of the day. I was so sleep deprived that I couldn’t see straight. At our two week check up my pediatrician suggested that I go to the breast feeding support group that our hospital offered.
Tim really encouraged me to go. I could get out of the house and I could talk to other moms who had been where I was. I felt like I was in my own Stranger Things episode and I was Barb (if you haven’t seen this show, drop everything and watch it). I felt like I was in this universe no one else was in. As supportive and wonderful as he was, Tim wasn’t even in that universe. Our daughter was literally depending on me for everything. Food, drink, comfort, security, familiarity, etc. It makes sense, we shared the same lodging for 10 months, yes 10 not nine science. It makes sense that she would want me right at the beginning. Her world has gone haywire and she was grasping for a known comfort. For her that was my heart beat, my voice, my smell, my everything. In a unrealized turn of events she then becomes my everything and that in of itself is overwhelming. They say for the first year of their lives babies equate themselves and their mother as the same person. Ipso facto, you as the mom now equate yourself and your baby as the same person. You find yourself staring at your wide awake baby saying, “I am so tired. How are you so awake?” because you truly don’t understand how you can be this exhausted and that little meatloaf is ready to rage on.
Breast feeding support group did and keeps helping. I get to ask a lactation specialist/nurse questions about being a mom and having a baby every week. I get to commiserate with other moms who have spit up in their hair and the memories of what daily showers were. We also get to show off our show babies. You beam with pride when you see that your little one gained 10 ounces that past week. You brag about them grabbing a toy for the first time. You tear up when you see a baby a month younger than yours and you remember when your baby was that tiny. You get to experience the ups and downs of being a mom with other tribe members and thankfully, no one gets voted off this island. As amazing as the group was, I was still feeling so anxious. I was still sacrificing my entire self for Eva. Showers. Eating. Sleeping. Going to the bathroom. Cleaning. The kitties. My marriage. My talking abilities. It was all on the baby sacrificing table and my prayers were that she would never cry. Never be upset. Never show others that I wasn’t good enough as a mom. I needed to talk to someone about it.
I walked into my therapist’s office this past Monday and was crying withing 10 minutes of the session. I was talking and talking and talking. It was so freeing. This person wasn’t there to judge me or tell me I was being a bad mom. She nodded her head in a understanding way. She offered different view points of how I was feeling. She let me know that not everything I did or was going to do was or is perfect because I’m not perfect and neither is my baby. I am very lucky that we have insurance that will cover my therapy appointments because they are so needed. Let’sbehonest, being a mom in this country is terrible. There isn’t enough paid time off from companies and I don’t think there is enough support after a mom leaves the hospital. I’m so fortunate to have my breast feeding support group, but that’s because Exeter Hospital is amaze balls. Not everyone has that. Mommy groups in person and on-line are wonderful and so helpful but they aren’t objective. We mommies need that objective authoritative person to help us sort through what we just went through physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Being a mom is probably the best thing I’ve done in my life. I look at Eva and can’t comprehend how much I love her. But there are also days I feel like I’m also just keeping a sophisticated Tamagochi alive.
We need to let go of the shame of asking for help. We as a society need to let go the idea that being a mom is the most natural role a woman can play. It doesn’t matter if you breast feed, physically gave birth, live in a city or country side, are married or single. Being a mom is so difficult and we all need help with it. Some women need a lot of help and support and some need just a little extra. Either way, we all need it. I don’t think you’ll encounter many women who full on regret becoming a mother because the good does outweigh the bad, eventually. Honestly, I didn’t round that corner until she was about two months old. Try imagining not feeling human or a woman or a wife or a sister or a daughter or a friend or your own self for two months. I write this post not to scare, or vent, or complain. I write this post because we need to talk about this more. Moms need to feel comfortable standing up and saying, “This is so hard. Please listen to me. Please help me.” because hard is a new definition to them. We need to circle the wagons not let them go in separate directions. We need to raise kids in a community again not separate houses. At the end of the day we need to talk to someone.