I had done extensive research into how to prepare for labour. I listened to countless podcasts, read articles and books galore, and eagerly paid attention during my prenatal classes. I was ready for labour. What I failed to realize was that labour lasts anywhere from a few hours to maybe a few days in the rarest of cases. You know what lasts forever? Being a parent. My fear of labour completely overshadowed the fact that I was about to become a mother. I was about to be solely responsible for a tiny, helpless human being that I created.
The initial shock hit in the middle of the night a few hours after labour. I looked at my husband and said something along the lines of, “We’re allowed to just take him home after 24 hours? Just like that, they’ll let us?” No one tests you to see if you’re competent enough to care for a newborn. In a haze of extreme fatigue and residual pain, it hit me that I have no fucking clue what I’m doing with this helpless little being.
It has taken me just over two months to finally figure out how to have a moment in my day to sit down and write. As much as I desperately wanted to document my transition to motherhood on a weekly schedule, that was simply impossible.
The first few weeks were the most challenging. Cluster-feeding is real and for those first few weeks you are your child’s bitch. There’s no nice way to put it. You want to take a bath? Better have room for one more, because guaranteed as soon as you’re done running the water, lighting candles, and throwing on your favourite relaxation playlist, baby will be screaming bloody murder in the other room and the only way to calm him down is to feed him. Compound that with sleep deprivation, and you’ve got the perfect combo for a short temper, and a lot more crying than you’d ever care to admit to.
I remember one specific time that I had drawn myself a bath, had some beautiful music playing to help me calm down, and within minutes I could hear Sawyer crying in the background. I was at my wits end and suddenly felt so enraged by the cries. All I wanted was 20 minutes to myself. To close my eyes, and simply relax without a baby attached to my boob. The feeling of rage faded into the most horrible guilt I’ve ever felt. This was my baby boy. He was just hungry. He didn’t need his hunger to be met with such anger. How could I even let myself feel so enraged? How could I be such a terrible mother for wanting to put my own selfish needs ahead of his? The tears were heavy and hot running down my cheeks that night.
After talking to many moms, I’ve forgiven myself for those thoughts. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who battles these internal feelings of guilt. Motherhood is no joke. You get discharged from the hospital, sleep deprived, and usually still in some pain, and suddenly you have a 24/7 job to make sure this little human that you’ve grown inside your body continues to thrive. There are no breaks. There is no turning back. With that final push (or final pull, if you delivered your baby via c-section), you are a full time mother. And guess what? You learn on the job.
It’s been just a little over two months since my baby was born and I’m at a place now, to allow myself to take time for “me”. I prepare bottles for my husband a few times a week so I can go to the gym, let off some steam, and do something that is a strong part of my own personal identity. Never have I enjoyed working out more than I do now. Up until the two month mark, I couldn’t leave Sawyer’s side. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s that something within me wouldn’t let me. My husband and I tried going out for dinner and leaving our boy with my mother-in-law for our anniversary. That ended in uncontrollable tears while I tried to do my make up. I can’t explain it, I just couldn’t be away from him for even an hour. Having the community centre gym right across the street, and my phone on full bast, makes breaking away for an hour a few times a week much more manageable. Knowing Sawyer is getting quality time with his daddy also helps to warm my heart and feel secure.
If you’re a new mother, be kind to yourself. It’s fucking hard work. It’s all encompassing. Your life revolves around your baby. Your heart now belongs to your baby (the level of love I feel for Sawyer is a whole blog post in and of itself). But you are still you. You will get to a point where your identity returns, where you again feel like yourself. It won’t be instant. Slowly, as you figure out the parenting style that best works for you and your baby, that you that’s been hiding in the shadows of motherhood, will emerge and radiate once again!
If you’re a new mother, please comment below what your greatest struggle has been so far.