I’m a new mom, and it’s hard. Why doesn’t anyone talk about how hard it is? Or maybe they did and I just didn’t listen, clouded by cozy visions of trips to Disney and spending Saturday mornings building pillow forts. Either way, I’m here now and having a bit of an identity crisis as I try to figure out who I am as a mom. I became pregnant less than three months into my relationship. In less than a year I went from being a single, dick-joke-slinging comedian, to nesting and preparing to care for a little human. After chatting with other new moms, and seasoned moms, I’ve learned postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate. It can hit you at any moment, regardless of how planned your pregnancy was.
When my daughter was born I realized I was depressed during my pregnancy. I felt like a new woman with her on the outside. Because of this, I thought I was safe from this rarely talked about, yet debilitating, state of sadness. I realized I was still depressed when I awoke crying a few mornings in a row, convinced I was drowning in my own life. It seemingly came out of nowhere but was merely cloaked by the excitement of having a new baby. I’m normally a self-proclaimed eternal optimist, so the angry fits, and negative outlook should’ve clued me in sooner. It’s taken a few weeks to get comfortable with the idea of being sad, and I’m still trying to figure out how to cope. It’s a strange experience. After all, I have a gorgeous, and healthy, daughter and wake-up everyday next to a loving partner who supports my passions and makes me laugh. What more does a lady need in life? Balanced hormones. That’s what a lady needs. Balanced hormones.
I haven’t felt as clouded as I feel now in over 4 years, and I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to be sad. When I’m NOT depressed and living in the present moment, life seems clear and flows like a river. When I get stuck in a rut, I’m running around in a haze, merely going through the motions of life without actually living. It’s very humbling to be back here, to see things from an entirely different side than my normal. I’ve been faking smiles and doing “the dance,” the societal dance of complacency. I’m super thankful I recognized the symptoms quicker than I have in my past, but it doesn’t make being a new mom any easier. Anxiety and depression come when you resist change, which I’ve been doing because I’m in scary and unfamiliar territory. But motherhood is getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Albeit experiencing copious amounts of growing pains, and loads of self-discovery in my 20’s, at my foundation I could still tell you who I was, and how I defined myself. I was a fun-loving party girl who enjoyed uniting a room with a well-crafted dick joke. I made no apologies for who I was. Now, at 31, I feel completely lost as I try on different hats belonging to various types of moms I’ve met in my life. I’ve personally always been more of a Marilyn than a Jackie O, yet I spent my first week as a stay-at-home-mom picking up dry-cleaning, grocery shopping and wiping my daughter’s ass. I made my partner breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday and was trying really hard to be a “perfect” housewife. I was miserable. When I was childless, I filled my time with the gym, tanning, spa days and brunch. The things that once centered me are pushed to the back-burner as I naturally put my child, and partner’s, needs first. But I have to remember to take care of myself. If I’m not taking care of me, I can’t take care of anyone.
My body image has also been a constant area of contention the last year as I gained 65 pounds while pregnant. I was quite delusional regarding how I imagined my pregnancy going. I thought I’d eat entirely organic, and do prenatal yoga daily, in preparation for a peaceful and natural birth. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyday, for 39 weeks, felt like the world’s worst hangover, the kind where you are utterly nauseous but can’t throw up. I had zero energy and physically couldn’t stomach more than laying on the couch, and eating pizza. It was rough. When I eat well, I feel well. Yet lately I’ve bargained with myself and made excuses to be lazy and unmotivated. I’ve been eating like shit, so I feel like shit. I’m literally feeding my own depression by choosing easy, and unhealthy, options. It’s just one example of not taking care of myself.
None of these truths make me a bad mom. They make me human. I’m only human. Becoming a parent is an extremely monumental life transition. The sleepless nights, and fussy days, are a right of passage requiring patience and compassion, for yourself, to gracefully survive. As humans, we tend to shy away from the emotions that make us such. We platonically respond with “I’m fine,” when prompted how we are doing, instead of asking for help or directions to the light at the end of our tunnels. Everyone goes through clouds of fog at some point in their lives. Sharing these experiences helps us relate to each other and feel less alone, easing some of the more difficult obstacles we may face. Sometimes it helps me to search the internet for parenting websites on advice for new parents, and then I realize how typical my story can be!
Making other mom friends has helped me a lot and I’m feeling closer to being able to define who I am as a mom. In the meantime, I’ve found solace in what a blessing my daughter has truly been. My current purpose, and daily goal, is to make her laugh. She’s my best audience and has given my poop jokes a renewed energy. Being a mom isn’t easy, but sleepy smiles, endless cuddles and the prospect of embarrassing her in front of her friends someday make it all worth it.