The hidden side of motherhood

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Fresh off my maternity leave, I am missing my baby girl an overwhelming amount. She is the light of my life and I watch the clock while I’m at work, counting down the minutes until I get to see her.

It wasn’t always like that. In the beginning she terrified me.

The truth is, the first several months of motherhood were a real struggle. I slipped into postpartum depression and every single day felt like a never-ending battle. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed, shut out the world (including my baby) and sleep for the next three or four years. I resented my little girl and my husband.

It felt like, though I gained this perfect, healthy baby, I lost everything that made me me. Everything I did felt like a chore. Feed her, interact with her, change her, clean the house, make dinner, get groceries, fight the urge to break down and just cry and cry and cry. Nothing was for me and I lost myself nearly completely.

My husband had his own struggle adapting to fatherhood and was of little help to our daughter or me. I hated him for that and felt abandoned to raise this tiny, colicky person on my own.

The moms in my mom group seemed to have it together, why was I failing so much? Failing, that was the constant opinion I had of myself. I was ruining my child before she even got a chance.

I couldn’t tell anyone this, though. I would be judged because I was “supposed” to be happy. I was “supposed” to be grateful. I was “supposed” to be better at this. So I posted the happy baby photos on my social media and hid the truth that I was drowning.

Eventually I got help. I worked through my depression. I realized all moms struggle even if they look like they have it under control. I was honest with a core group of mom friends who assured me I was not alone. I was honest with my husband and he was honest with me.

It was hard work, but I came through it and am stronger now than I was before. Some days when my daughter is being the queen of temper tantrums I miss my old life, but I’m much happier now and excited to be awake for these years I wanted to sleep through.

So, for all you new moms who feel like you’re failing, I assure you it will get better. Talk to your doctor. Get the help you need. Be kind to yourself, because you are doing the best you can.

And for those that know a new mom, tell her what an amazing job she is doing and genuinely ask her how she is handling this massive life change.

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