“You will always be the miracle that makes my life complete.”
My beautiful girl turned 3 months old last weekend. 3 months. It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed. Each day with her is a blessing and a test. But I can’t imagine being anything other than her Momma. She’s telling us stories now, constantly learning and wiggling her way in and out of things. It astounds me just how quickly they grow and develop. How magical it is to be a part of the guiding process. This week, she has been discovering her own feet and the fact that she has them. It has been one of the most entertaining developments thus far. Watching her eyes light up, and her brows furrow in astonishment as her feet kick back and forth on the couch. She also enjoys standing up, and jumping – she’ll be on the move before we know it, and then I’ll be getting a great work out trying to keep up with her. Our other recent discovery is Addison’s new found obsession with “Baby Shark” – Momma’s if you haven’t tried showing this to your littles yet, I highly recommend you do. This video for some reason has a magical ability to stop her fussing and crying almost instantaneously.
“My alarm clock wears cute pj’s and smiles at me when I wake up.”
There is truth in that sentence. My alarm clock does wear pretty adorable pajamas, and her smiles add beautiful joy to my day – however, she’s not always all smiles when she wakes up. Example: It’s 1am and she’s discovered she is hungry, and therefore commences to howl like a banshee to get my attention. This sleepy momma rushes to the crib and begins to comfort the hysterical baby, who will only be silenced by the bottle soon provided to her. There are no smiles in that moment, not until the food has been provided to her – then, and only then does the smile come out.
Being a mom has a magical quality about it. You suddenly find yourself able to juggle a million things at once, while simultaneously becoming forgetful due to “Mom Brain”. You are the nurse, the caretaker, the comforter, the teacher, and so much more. You are Momma, and that role provides so much to such a small human. They need you more than you can even imagine. And sometimes, that means learning to lower your own expectations of yourself. Because the truth is, somedays, all you can do is keep baby safe, warm, and fed – and that is enough. You are enough.
In reality, being a momma is like being a freaking superhero. It is putting the needs of your tiny humans well above your own. It is sleepless nights, anxiety, overwhelming love and care. It is not going to the bathroom when you need to, because you’ve been rocking that little babe for 3 hours and if you stop she’ll wake. It’s trying to do the laundry, the dishes, and clean the house all in the hour that babe is napping. It is putting 110% effort into everything and knowing somedays, you won’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything at all. It is challenging, it can be frustrating, but the rewards are oh, so great. There are many types of jobs in the world that require a variety of skills, but being a momma, that is being a superhero.
Postpartum Depression & Anxiety:
Note: I do have a strong support system, including multiple mental health professionals who are aware of these difficulties, and are addressing them. This is just a reflection on my experience – it is not an exclusive look at how postpartum can affect people. Please seek professional help if you are struggling. You are not alone.
It hit me one day. Hard. Like a rock, or the feeling of running into a wall. The anxiety rose up in waves of uncontrollable worry, and the depression seemed never-ending. Getting up out of bed was a task too heavy to bear, but one of entire necessity. You see, I knew this was coming. As an individual who struggles daily with clinical depression and severe anxiety, we knew I was high risk for postpartum struggles. We’d talked about it, we’d planned for it. But of course, my mind plays tricks on me so I didn’t see it happening, I didn’t feel the shift in focus. Until one day, suddenly tasks were daunting and seemingly impossible. Remembering to take a shower was difficult. The idea of needing to the laundry was overwhelming, and upon completion, it did not feel like enough. Getting the dishes put away was a task I could cry over, and finding the motivation to push through each day became difficult.
In my dreams of becoming a mother, I pictured the beautiful, blissful moments of singing lullabies to a sleepy, happy baby. And when it wasn’t like this, I felt like I had failed. There is nothing more depressing than having it all, and still feeling sad.
Every day when I woke up, I could feel my body fill with anxiety before my feet even touched the floor. My anxiety rose rapidly, fearing everything from SIDS, to fluke accidents, to not being a good enough mom – that’s the thing about anxiety. It latches onto everything it can. It is the gremlin on my shoulder making me question if I am enough – it makes me feel like I am a bad mom. Anxiety is the invisible and yet crippling weight on my shoulders. Regular everyday tasks became heavy, scary, and some days, impossible to complete. I found myself unable to go to the grocery store – panic setting in at the idea of being in a crowded place. The masterful trick of anxiety is creating scenarios that “could happen”.
I had to battle the voice in my head that was constantly telling me that things would never get better. That I would never feel “normal” again. That I would never adjust to this new normal. I felt like I was just going through the motions each day. Terrified of doing something wrong, worried about how I would cope in returning to work – which wasn’t for another 9 months, scared that my anxiety would cause her harm. And I was angry – I was angry with myself, and my own anxiety for stealing the joys of motherhood away from me. Angry with myself for always feeling like I am in a rush, trying to get from one thing to the next – not having the energy or the time to enjoy the small moments. I felt like I was missing out on all the moments I could be sharing with my daughter, because my anxiety was telling me I needed to get everything done, and that if I didn’t then I wasn’t a good mom. But in reality, it is the little moments that are the most important. Learning to give myself permission to enjoy the time I have with her. Learning to give myself permission to not be okay. To take care of my own mental health – the laundry, the dishes, the shopping – it could all wait.
I had to teach myself to take things one step at a time. I needed to start creating a routine in our life, not only for Addison but for myself and my anxiety. I also learned that staying away from Pinterest was a big help. Pinterest, which is a beautiful, amazing source of ideas and motivation, was also a huge source of unhappiness for me. It kept my mind racing in why is my life not like that; and how do they manage to do everything. It was creating this image of what motherhood should look like and was enabling my anxiety, berating myself for each time I couldn’t achieve this social media based standard of motherhood. Everyone’s journey in motherhood is different, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong. It is just different. And this is truly the greatest journey I have ever experienced. Anxiety is just along for the ride.
“Of all the versions of me that I’ve been, I think the hot-mess mama who’s head over heels in love with her kid, totally winging it, and not giving AF what others think is by far my favourite.”