When I was still pregnant with Judah, I remember vividly a conversation I had with friends. I had been reading articles online about Post Partum Depression, I was concerned that I hadn’t been reading any articles about a mom who had a happy experience after having their first baby. I basically said, “that’ll never be me, why can’t a woman have a happy experience? Can we talk about that?” and I laughed it off.
Little did I know, 8 months after that conversation, I would be the mom in those articles. I would be the mom who was feeling lost within this new life. When Judah was first born, I was warned that when my hormones crashed, it would be a lot of crying. What I didn’t realize was that the crying wouldn’t stop. I didn’t realize that I could have the desire to run away from my family because I truly believed that they would be better off without me. I’ve started to understand why women may leave their crying baby in the crib and walk out of the house.
No one can really warn you about the overwhelming feelings of doubt you feel as a new mom. We are bombarded with messages about how to raise our children, how to recover, how to handle family, how to handle friends, how to be a good wife while an infant in hanging off your breast for 12 hours a day, how to gracefully take advice from others, and the list could go on and on. We’re supposed to do this while everyone is wanting to hold our baby and congratulating us. Also, while we haven’t showered in days and our boobs are leaking all over our shirts.
I always prided myself on being a free thinking person. I told myself that I wouldn’t succumb to worrying about how others perceived me as a mom, that I would stand tall in my independence, throwing caution to the wind and the internet shamers. Yet, any time I posted a picture of Judah I would become anxious about what others thought about it. When I stopped breastfeeding/pumping at 3.5 months, I stopped talking about it because I was so ashamed that I didn’t make it any longer. I collapsed under the pressure I’ve put on myself. I want everyone else to think that I have it all together so that I would feel good about how I’ve approached motherhood so far.
The dark place for me is the anxiety I feel about being around others, afraid that they are judging every move I make with Judah. I have isolated myself time and time again emotionally from my husband, my friends, and my family. I oftentimes go home from conversations or events with friends and replay in my head what I said and how they are probably replaying what I said judging me and not wanting to be my friend anymore.
I look at the responsibility of raising Judah, and it can overtake and consume all my thoughts. The immense responsibility to help shape this little persons life is a little more than intimidating. I’ve thought to myself, “is this all I am now? I’m Judah’s mom? I’m still Amanda, I still have hopes and dreams laid on my heart.” then immediately feel guilty because the world around us would have you believe that if you don’t focus on your child every moment of every day then you’re an awful parent. We as moms offer ourselves up as sacrifices to our children. While we love them, we let the duties of motherhood consume our very identity.
Now, I do believe that becoming a mother changes you. You look at the world a lot differently, a little more cautiously for me at least, but we let our very being be permeated with motherhood. I feel guilty because I work, I see other moms stay home and I am jealous, I figure that they must look at me and judge my decisions to be a working parent. I let that aspect of my life be dominated by thoughts of never being good enough. The dark place comes and goes. Some days I am fully engaged with all that is happening around me, and other days I am absent and focused inward.
I hope that any other moms who find themselves in this dark place, whether that be anxiety, depression, thoughts of uselessness and worry, will be able to read this and know that you are not alone. Judah just turned 7 months old, I am still trying to dig out what I look like now, how I approach my husband, my friends, and my family. I don’t have all or many of the answers, but I do know that speaking to other moms has helped the darkness become a little more light. I wanted to be a little more articulate in this post, but I’m not ready to share with the world every single thing I’ve dealt with in the last several months.
Please feel free to ask my any questions, reach out to me if you need someone to talk to because I am always open for a new friend and to help a fellow mom no matter where you are on your journey.