The internet can be very good and bad when it comes to motherhood. All the information you could ever need is at your fingertips but this can be a bad thing. You make a decision for what you think is best for your child but for every choice you make, there’s always a contradicting option that is equally legitimate. When you’re a first time mom, this makes things incredibly confusing and overwhelming. You add in advice from family, friends, and social media and your head starts spinning. You start worrying about everything from doing too much or too little for your child and the thoughts consume you. How come they haven’t reached this milestone yet; should I be watching for signs of autism; how come they’re not sleeping through the night; and oh no, is that a flat spot forming?! I should also be trying to take time for myself but if I go out that messes up the nap schedule and then I’m feeding in the back seat of my car in the parking lot of Walmart and how do I go pee in a public place and hold my baby at the same time?! Don’t even get me started on the pressure to “get my body back”. The stressful thoughts go on and on. The middle of the night feedings can be an especially lonely time where you start thinking of these things and your mind starts spiralling into the worst case scenarios. Along with the worry is usually a big dollop of guilt for something you did or didn’t do or should be doing. And then just when things seem to be going well, your baby gets a little older and things change and you’re worrying about the next milestone and another challenge begins.
People ask, “how is being a mom?” And you say, “it’s good, it’s been a big change, but it’s good. I love it”. Because you do love it. You love being home watching this little person grow up and learn new things. It’s pretty cool being the only person that can comfort them sometimes. You don’t know how, but you’ve formed this amazing bond. It’s all totally worth it. But there’s a lot of hard moments too. And it’s scary to bring all of that up when someone asks. It’s hard to be vulnerable and talk about all the dark stuff because what if that other mom hasn’t been feeling that way at all. There’s that guilt again because I’m not loving every second of this motherhood journey.
I am lucky to have not suffered from postpartum anxiety or depression but I can easily see how difficult it would be to reach out if you are going through it. The more we talk about this stuff and realize that everyone is going through similar things, the more we can prevent the loneliness, shame, guilt and worry that we put on ourselves. Maybe our minds won’t spin out of control into the worst case scenario if we can find some confidence that we’re doing everything we can and we’re doing a great job. You are the best Mom for your baby and don’t ever forget that.
*Written for a Maternal Mental Health Project May 1, 2019*