“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.”– Robert Browning
I’m back from yet another hiatus…I know, I know.
Where is the consistency? I have come to terms that I struggle in this department but will no longer apologize for it. I wear many hats in my life and it is difficult juggling them all. So instead, I would like to express my gratitude for all of you who continue to stick around. Thank you for trusting that I will always come back (because I will!). I will be sharing a catch up post in the very near future because I have so many exciting updates to share. But for now, I wanted to dive deeper into the subject of motherhood and my experience over the past year. For all of my new mommas and mommas to be, this one is for you!
You may be wondering “what prompted this topic?” Well, first, I just celebrated my daughter, Sahara’s first birthday and I am still coming down off the glorious high I felt from this past weekend leading into the week. And yes, a separate post will be coming for this too. 🙂 But mostly, I was talking to a friend whose pregnancy is coming to an end, and she asked me how I felt during my last trimester leading up to the postpartum process. I must admit, I never got to fully answer her question as I was sick right before my little one’s birthday and then extremely busy with planning once her birthday arrived. However, this question does have me reflecting.
My Last Trimester
Physically, I remember feeling like a stuffed sausage. Sleep was practically nonexistent at this point as it became increasingly uncomfortable to lay in certain positions. My feet and ankles were always swollen, and it constantly felt like I was experiencing hot flashes as Florida weather remains humid up until late October (which was my due date). It became challenging to do any form of physical activity, and waddling was my main form of walking. And by this time, when I did sleep, I snored like a grizzly bear…my poor husband.
Mentally and emotionally, I was filled with anxiety and anticipation. I desperately couldn’t wait to hold my baby girl in my arms but was equally terrified. One of my main fears was how my labor and delivery experience would turn out. No one really talks about the dark side of this- how a woman is tiptoeing between the line of life and death, or how women of color are at greater risk for complications due to medical negligence and misguidance. What if something happened to me during delivery? What if I needed to have an emergency C-section? What if I experienced a stillbirth? So many worries circulated through my mind in my final moments of pregnancy.
Those last few weeks of pregnancy felt like a ticking time bomb. There was so much to do, not enough time and energy to do it. I also recognized that my life would drastically change, and the selfish part of me didn’t feel ready. I worried I wouldn’t be a good mother. I worried that my trauma would cause harm to my child. I worried that I would experience postpartum depression. The worry list became never-ending. And despite all of this, once Sahara was born and when I look back on these moments, the world as I knew it did not come crashing down after all. It changed but I became a shape shifter maneuvering through uncharted waters and conquered new land. And for my mothers-to-be, the same will happen for you. It will all work out.
My Postpartum Experience
I get emotional to this day thinking about those first 12 weeks. I won’t sugarcoat this, becoming a mother has been the HARDEST job I have ever taken on. It did not come naturally to me and I constantly felt guilty because of it. I attempted to breastfeed in the hospital after Sahara was born and it was extremely painful. To add insult to injury, she did not latch. I continued to try those first couple of days at the hospital but she was not receiving enough milk to urinate and so the nurses fed her formula. Failure #1. I came home the first night with her and attempted to breastfeed again. She was so hungry and frustrated; I can still hear those screams in the late night hours. Waking up every hour and attempting each time only to continuously fail. I remember crying hysterically with her and for a moment I thought to myself, “I can’t do this. I can’t be a mother.” Failure #2. Then I figured I would exclusively pump and attempted to stay on a schedule where I pumped every 2 hours but my milk supply was low. Despite lactation drinks, lactation cookies, and trying to maintain a diet that promoted breastmilk, my supply was still low. Failure #3. Day in and day out for the next 4 weeks, I tortured myself with this trying to provide her with breastmilk while bearing comments from loved ones who thought “breast was best.” It was often frustrating and made me feel less than a mother and sometimes, less than a woman. I blamed myself for not being able to do the one thing my body was meant to do. It was equally infuriating because often I wanted to lash out and tell them that if I could breastfeed, I would. Because I really want to spend money I don’t have on formula, right?
The first day I was left with Sahara on my own, I was a complete wreck. My husband did not work from home at the time and my other family members were no longer staying with us. It was up to me and me only, to take care of this fragile newborn. I had no family or friends that lived nearby. Holy shit. I was sleep deprived, couldn’t shower or eat when I wanted to, and she constantly cried. And I constantly cried with her. What many don’t tell you about motherhood is the immense feelings of failure and loneliness that comes with it. You will constantly feel like you are failing and the lack of control around the circumstances is enough to drive you over the edge. You will feel utterly alone at times because while you no longer recognize your life, yourself, and your body, the rest of the world keeps living. There are times when you feel forgotten. There were days that my husband found me crouched down in a corner crying hysterically while Sahara bawled in her swing. It didn’t help that I had a bad case of the baby blues, and I cried all day, every day for almost 2 months. But then one day, it all clicked.
I spent several weeks learning this little human, building a routine, loving her a little more each passing day. Motherhood didn’t feel so heavy. It had its days but I learned that there would be good days and bad days, and my only priority was to take it as it comes. I learned to ignore comments that were targeted towards my parenting style. I also learned to ignore unsolicited opinions because when you first become a mother, all of a sudden, people are experts on raising children and think they know what is best for your child. And trust me, the unsolicited opinions will flow. I learned to trust my intuition and that ultimately, I know what is best for my child. I learned that to be the best mother to Sahara, I had to take the best care of myself. I learned the best path to being a great mother was to rediscover this new version of myself, to separate the title from my actual being, because I am my own person. My title of ‘mom’ is not my identity. This past year has been the hardest year of my life but it has also been the most fulfilling. I am so thankful for my little blessing and all of the tears are worth it plus more.
For my new mothers and mothers-to-be, you need to know…
Your life is not over. You do not have to give up on your dreams or sacrifice your peace, space, and sanity. Eventually, you will feel like yourself again. Your child will eventually sleep the majority of the night. You will create a routine that allows you to shower and eat in peace. You will discover a power within yourself so great that you will feel silly for feeling so inferior in the beginning.
There is no greater love than the love of your child. I say this not to take away from all other forms of great love- the love you receive from family, romantic partners, and friends, because you need those versions of love too. But this love will change you from your core, for the better. It will teach you patience, understanding, and sacrifice. You will discover the true meaning of what it feels like to unconditionally love another person. This person, this little human being is YOUR person. No one will ever look at you or adore you the way your child does. You are literally their entire world until they grow into their own person and naturally but sadly, decide they no longer need you so much. The hours are long but the days are extremely short. The moments are fleeting and you cannot get those moments back so it’s important to be present in each moment, good and bad.
One year down, many, many, many more to go. I hope this post brings feelings of comfort to those who need it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise. It will all work out and you are doing amazing. You are doing enough. You will be more than enough for that bundle of joy. Sending all my love and thank you for reading. ❤