Nobody Told Me How Hard it was to Be a Mom
My struggle with Postpartum Anxiety
People didn’t tell me the tough stuff.
Maybe they thought it was better if I didn’t know.
I heard all about the WONDER of it.
I was told that it is SUCH a special time.
Babies are so SWEET.
Kids are such a BLESSING.
They GROW UP SO FAST.
ENJOY them while they’re YOUNG.
And all of that is true.
It isn’t always easy in the moment.
Being a mom wasn’t magical for me at first.
I didn’t know why. I didn’t understand the stress and anxiety that came with being a mom.
I was confused about the tenseness inside me that consumed me every day.
I was in resistance to having a part of me that was so vulnerable, lying there in my arms, needing my support.
I didn’t like vulnerability, I wanted to stay safe.
“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body”. ― Elizabeth Strong
Instead of letting go in these scary moments I held it in and walled up.
I let the fear and anxiety overcome me.
When my baby girl was awake, I was stressed about doing the PERFECT thing for her growth and development.
When she was sleeping, I made sure the house was silent.
I was stressed about someone waking her up before her naptime was over.
I kept a strict schedule because all the books said my baby wouldn’t thrive if I didn’t plan A, B and C perfectly.
I was a mess and I was laden with guilt and shame.
I didn’t tell anyone.
I was embarrassed.
I thought I was the only one going through it.
The only one not jubilant over being a mom.
I had heard of post-partum depression, however I wasn’t depressed.
I thought I was just an anxiety-filled first-time mom — and completely alone.
Close friends didn’t even know what was going on because I chose to keep it all in — I didn’t think they’d understand.
Then one day when my daughter was 1.5yrs old, my husband came home from a neighbor’s house and said that the wife had post-partum anxiety.
What the heck is that? I thought.
He said it was similar to post-partum depression, expect it was a stress-induced feeling instead of a depressed feeling.
Eureka! It finally made sense.
So, I went to therapy.
I worked through a lot of emotions around the thoughts of being an inadequate mom.
I discovered a lot about my feelings.
I examined “Why?”
I began questioning why I was –
Never relaxing (too stressed)
Not taking time to lie down (felt guilty)
Not allowing my husband to take control (didn’t want to stress him out)
Avoiding taking her to the grocery store (in case she cried)
Never letting her nap in the car (her schedule would be off)
Prohibiting her routine from shifting for even an hour (it could throw off the whole day).
I started to see that the stress was being caused by things I hadn’t dealt with from my past.
I worked through my fear of having a child and what that brought up for me.
I talked about my desire to have a life that I no longer felt I had, now that my wholly-reliant daughter was here.
She was beautiful, magnificent and precious in every way and I couldn’t enjoy her because I wanted space.
Space I couldn’t get much of for a while.
I was a being a victim to the circumstance of having a child — a child I chose to have.
I loved her deeply and wanted more time alone.
I didn’t truly enjoy the moments I did have with her in that first 1.5 years of her life.
I cradled her, nursed her and sang to her every day, however I didn’t feel the joy.
It wasn’t until she was 2 years old that I really began feeling happy.
I gave in and chose to enjoy every moment to the best of my ability.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ― Thich Nhat Hahn
I chose to smile more.
I chose to replace the anxiety I would feel when she’d cry with love and understanding.
I chose to stay in the room with her and care for her instead of running away and letting my husband console her.
I realized that if I didn’t appreciate these moments now, I would regret it later.
I wouldn’t be able to look back on this time with wonder and delight if I didn’t start to live that experience now.
What I began to do was look at all the ways I was thankful for her and what my life would be like if she wasn’t with me.
“Imagine if you lost everything you had….and then got it back again”.
I got to look at how much I appreciated her little spirit and sweet personality.
I started seeing her as the gift that she was, instead of something in my life that hindered me from my goals and dreams.
I saw her as an addition to my being, where I could learn, grow and expand because she was in my life.
“The journey is never-ending. There’s always going to be growth, improvement, adversity; you just have to take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment”. –Antonio Brown
My perspective changed and then my experience changed.
Is every day perfect? No.
Do I still go into my shell and hide under the covers for respite? Yes.
What I have learned is that my experience of being a mom is created in my mind and heart.
If I am able to choose into love, gratitude and abundance of time, I will be so much better than if I choose into fear, lack and struggle.
Life can be a struggle sometimes and I recognized that joy could be found in the struggle.
“When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”. — James 1:2–4
That’s where I’m at today.
Finding the joy.
Choosing into courage.
Thankful for the life I have.
Grace-filled toward my beautiful daughter.
Kind and loving to myself, even when I feel I don’t deserve it.
I choose to believe I DO deserve it, because I am doing the best I can as I strive to be better in each moment.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” –Amit Ray
Thank you — sharing my heart with you helps me heal.