Starting at a young age, I got called “Mom” a lot. I even recall my own Mom and brothers responding to my remarks with an, “OK, Mom.” As I grew older, the term would be used amongst friends, then co-workers. I always took it as a compliment. I see now that it wasn’t always delivered as such. Nevertheless, I thought the term implied that I was a natural at being a Mom. On the day my eldest was born, I learned that Motherhood was not as natural as I had imagined.
Abigail joined our family 6 weeks earlier than her expected arrival. Just prior to delivery, my nurse came in to inform me that there would be more nurses than usual in the room to prepare for any possible complications, as a result of her premature arrival. At the time, I thought nothing of how this was not going along with my preconceived idea of having a baby. I was too scared for any reflection on the scenario. Before I knew it, I delivered Abby, they checked her out, cleaned her up, let me kiss her cheek, snapped a picture, and they whisked her off to the NICU. It was one of the most amazing feelings to know I helped bring life into the world. I had delivered a baby. I was on cloud nine. Complete euphoria.
It would be three more days before I held her in my arms. She was still covered in cords and surrounded with so much padding that it was tough to really hold her close to me. Postpartum emotions were starting to set in, my body was not healing properly, breast-feeding was completely unsuccessful and I was growing tired of the multiple trips to and from the NICU. I wanted my baby home.
Then she came home. A few days into her being home, I began to realize that this whole situation had not gone as planned. I was supposed to deliver a healthy baby girl, they were supposed to clean her up and lay her in my arms, I would then get a picture of that magical moment when the baby looks in her Mom’s eyes and the Mom still has that birth glow, then I would start to breast-feed my baby and she would take to it perfectly. Motherhood is natural and naturally that’s how things should’ve gone in my eyes.
Yet nothing felt natural. My daughter was colicky, she had acid reflux, and she didn’t seem to like me very much. Suddenly, I found myself in the depths of depression. I realized that Postpartum depression (PPD) had happened to me without me even realizing it. It snuck in and set up shop.
Addressing the topic of PPD is for another post at another time. This post is to tell you of an unforgettable conversation I had with a woman about a month after I delivered Abby. So, I told you all of that, to tell you this…
The conversation is still so vivid that I can see where I’m standing, which way I’m facing, and what the weather was like outside the adjacent window. The woman was a friend of mine who was a young Mom like me. I had conveniently hid all of my feelings of sadness to the outside world, as my heart was filled with too much shame over the matter. We were having small talk about having a baby when she asked me how I was doing. I must have made some comment hinting to my true feelings. She shared with me how difficult it was for her when she first had her baby. She shared that she was jealous that her husband got to go to work and she had to stay home.
It seems like such an uninfluential remark to make about being a new Mom, but she changed my way of thinking in that very moment. She was basically telling me that it’s not perfect for her. Up until that point, I had only heard perfect stories. Since then, I have heard many an imperfect birth story. The birth of my second child could be added to the imperfect birth story list. However, at the time, this woman was doing something I had yet to hear. She was being honest with me about matters that so many women aren’t honest about.
In the hustle of people around us, she ended up having to leave. I remember so desperately wanting to talk to her more. I wanted to know that I would be okay. I wanted to know that what I was feeling didn’t have to be shameful. I loved and adored my daughter, but why wasn’t the bond that I had envisioned there between us? I thought maybe this woman might have more answers for me.
I don’t remember the conversation ever getting picked back up later. All I know is that from that day forward, I started to let some of my real feelings slip out into conversations. I started to feel less shame. I got help through medication and didn’t hide that I had done so. I warned mothers-to-be of the potential of PPD. I opened myself up to being more vulnerable.
I don’t introduce myself with a list of my short-comings and vices. However, as people take the time to get to know me, I take the time to share me; the real me. That’s one of the main reasons that I want to do this blog. I want to share me. Someone shared their real feelings with me and it helped get me through a dark time. My goal is to pay that same gift forward.