It’s hard to believe that it was only six weeks ago when I became a mother for the first time. During those six weeks I have learned a lot about myself, my family, and my future. Parts have been harder than I could have imagined, and yet the experience as a whole has been the most rewarding experience of my life.
My last post, almost two months ago, highlighted how I had been in early labor for days, which eventually turned into weeks. Going through day after day of contractions and know I was on the cusp of something happening was a feeling and experience I will never forget. What felt like an eternity quickly vanished around two o’clock in the morning when, finally, my contractions began to take off. My husband and I arrived sleep deprived and nervous to the hospital around 6am, and twelve hours later, our beautiful baby girl, Clara Elizabeth, was born. She was healthy, beautiful, and a solid seven pounds.
From that point on, life was and never will be the same. You begin to realize your own limitations, and you also realize just how well (or not well) a person is able to function with little to no sleep. You know you are a new parent when the thought of five hours of straight sleep is enough to make you cry in excitement…side note – I’m still waiting for those five straight hours! You also realize the blessing it is to have a partner who is supportive and a team player when in comes to late night dirty diapers and never ending crying bouts from gas. Conversation at dinner begins to revolve around feeding patterns, anti-gas drops, and why I can’t stop crying for the tenth time that day. You learn that just being able to do one load of laundry a day is a big accomplishment and having enough time to take a shower is a major luxury.
And then there comes the point when you wonder why you aren’t as happy as you should be. Commercials on television depict happy moms lovingly taking care of their babies with their immaculate makeup and hair. Magazines show enthusiastic families laughing and smiling through those early weeks of a newborn’s life, and you wonder why those feelings don’t extend to you. I pondered over these thoughts and after four weeks of loving my baby yet feeling a very negative cloud of despair hover over my heart and spirit, I finally accepted the fact that I had postpartum depression. A death knell, or so I thought, to my happily ever after. I found myself waking up from precious naps in tears. I came to dread the evening hours as I was never sure if I was going to have a good night or another sleepless night with only minutes of sleep. I lost the desire to leave the house with the thought of “what’s the point?” My life seemed to be a never ending circle of feeding, changing diapers, sleepless days and nights, and the constant fight to keep loving my baby over the mountain of “mommy guilt” I was drowning in. Seems rather bleak huh? It was.
It was on the eve of her first month “birthday”, when I did some research on “baby blues” from which I figured all these feelings stemmed. But reading that these “blues” lessened after two weeks took the wind out of me. Why was I still feeling lousy weeks later? Enter the thought and acceptance of postpartum depression. I read a list of symptoms and found myself relating to many of them. But instead of feeling even more depressed about this revelation, I saw a crack of light in my dark tunnel. These feelings weren’t really me. The despair wasn’t real. And I wasn’t “crazy.”
Well six weeks have past and a few days ago, I felt a fog lift off of me. So much so that I didn’t realize how bad I felt until I started feeling better. Life seemed hopeful. I was able to relax and be more patience with myself, and the amazing bond with my little girl began to cement. I still have my sad times, and so I have opened up to my family and doctor about my feelings. Knowing that those dark emotions are not real has been freeing and I’m slowly starting to turn into the mother I always wanted to be. I know it will take time to get back to feeling 100%, but I am allowing myself the freedom to not be perfect and embrace all aspects of my feelings.
Being a mom is the most wonderful gift I have ever been given. But being a perfect mom is now off the table. Instead, being the best mom I can be, with all my faults and strengths, has become my new goal. Postpartum depression is real and scary and should be taken seriously. What it is not, however, is any indication on your success as a parent. There should be no shame in acknowledging it whether you suffer from it yourself or see it in a friend. Looks like my little peanut has already taught me my first important parenting lesson: unconditional love goes both ways – as I love her no matter what, she too loves me no matter what…even if I haven’t showered in a bit! 🙂
In the sewing world, I am going to slowly start getting back into the swing of things over the next few weeks. While I am not giving myself a specific date to be “better” by, I am letting myself follow my creative mood. I am not quite sure where this mood will take me, but I know it will be a fun ride!
So, my friends, it feels great to be back sharing with all of you!
Here’s to accepting ourselves in whatever state we are in!
Cover Photo By Jesse Wilcox Smith