April 25, 2014

That Feeling That Just Won’t Go Away #PostPartum

Becoming a mom brings a lot of changes in life. A beautiful new life. Little feet to kiss and cheeks to fawn over. That baby smell. Oh that new baby smell, there’s just nothing in the world like. The first smile, and those adorable baby coos.

Yes, life with a new baby brings all sorts of new and unexpected joys. But what happens when it also brings the opposite?  And no, I’m not talking about the sleep deprivation. The countless diaper changes or swaddling and re-swaddling. Or the never ending cycle of Breastfeeding, pumping, washing bottles and repeat. Repeat again and again. Until you start to have sympathy for dairy cows and wish you could walk around bra-less like some African tribes still do.

I am talking about this deep, unshakeable feeling inside that something is just not right. The world I am viewing is not rose colored, but rather foggy and dim. Like you are watching a movie of your life, but you aren’t actually living it. Things you think should bring you joy don’t, and that in turn makes you feel worse.

What’s a new Mom to do?

For those of you who know me, you know I have a certain zest for life. An energy that comes from someplace deep within that is almost never ending. I can work harder, faster than almost anyone, require little sleep to function well, and have a drive. An internal drive to be the best, to constantly push forward, innovate and try new things. A drive that pushes me to stay up late emailing until two am and having midnight conference calls. An energy level that is palpable and can be either intoxicating or revolting, depending on whom you are.

Gone for me is this level of energy, this happy and energetic pulse for life, replaced by blah. By sheer anxiety, like I am constantly treading water with a ten pound weight in each hand and I am about to sink. Like I am stuck in quick sand while needing to nurse, email fifty people back in five minutes, do the dishes, laundry, jump on another conference call, and oh, enjoy taking my son to the park while dealing with a fussy baby.

That’s my life right now, and I hate it. I have constant anxiety to push forward and move past this fog, but I can’t. I am stuck here in a place I hate.

I often look at my little one, her absolutely beautiful face and delicate features and think, this! I should be in heaven right now. Over the moon and just loving every second. But I don’t.

I want to run and hide. To go somewhere with no babies, no phones, no emails with 1,400 unread messages, no social media to keep up with or feel like I am missing out on something. What that something is, I don’t know exactly. I think it’s the old me. The me I just can’t seem to get back to.

I am never one to let any obstacle stand in my way. Bring me Everest and I will figure out a way to move it. But with this, I just can’t. Even worse, I think about the future, knowing I will look at pictures of this time and think, if I could just have this time with my baby again. What mom doesn’t want to go back in time with her child to when they were a baby?  Why can’t I just be happy and enjoy this time?

It’s this feeling that I just can’t shake. Of wanting to run but being shackled in place. Of constant worry and anxiety. I’m not this person, but I am today.

I ask again, what’s a mom to do?

Post-partum is powerful. It’s something we have absolutely no control over. The usuals, working out, taking a bath, drinking some wine, watching some horrible reality, they just don’t apply right now. I don’t have the proper tools in my toolbox, because this is hormones I am dealing with. They are strong enough to create a new life, and they are strong enough to paralyze mine right now.

I’m not someone to ask for help. Right now I would rather hide out, away from the world. Friends offer to bring me coffee and take me out to lunch and I quietly ignore their calls and texts or push them off, because it just seems too hard. Sometimes just texting someone back is hard for me.

The best gift anyone can give a new Mom in need is to just show up. Come over, with coffee, pressed juice, food, or just your hands ready to help out. To take a walk, feed the baby, or best yet, one friend actually took the baby for a night. She knew, just from my lack of being social on my birthday, something was off. And that I needed a friend, needed support, but I didn’t know how to ask. She showed up, on my couch, and insisted on taking baby. Then she actually told me she was taking the baby for a weekend so I could celebrate my birthday and sleep. What a friend! While not everyone can offer that much support, do whatever you can, and it will be much appreciated. Every piece of love and caring you put forth builds a chain that helps pull that person from their deep, dark place and back into the land of new mommy bliss.

As for me, I still go there a few times a week. I am tired, and exhausted. I sometimes don’t eat enough or shower, and dream of just being alone. But my hope is by sharing my journey, it might help other new moms on their journey from this very difficult place to a much lighter and happier one. If I can help you lose the shackles of sadness and depression, even just a bit, to lift your heart and turn even a tiny bit of that mouth into a smile, I will know that sharing my story has helped someone else.

It’s easy to share when we are happy, but hard to do so when we are down. Social media tends to leave out the trials and tribulations in life and focus on the amazing! Happy! Best! Moments that you must share. But I think this is one of those moments too. Motherhood has it’s intense highs and bitter, challenging lows. This is just one of them. Where I go from here I’m not sure. But I know that this too, shall pass.

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