A couple of weeks ago The Bump emailed me an article titled, “It Will Take You Longer Than You Think to Adjust to Becoming a Mom (and That’s Okay)”. There was even a comforting little byline: Spoiler! It’s later than you think it is. I read on, ready to confirm my normalcy as the mother of a 14 month old who was just starting to turn the corner on looking at my child and wondering, “Whose kid is this I’m looking after everyday and when are his actual parents coming to pick him up?” I’m only sort of kidding.
I started to read the article and was instantly assaulted with this number: 4 months and 23 days. “Oh, shit,” was my first thought, “I am WAY behind on this.”
At four months postpartum I hadn’t slept longer than a few hours straight since the night before I went into labour.
At four months postpartum my de Quervain’s syndrome had set in and I was in constant agony, doing every single task like changing my baby’s diapers while wearing braces on both wrists.
At four months postpartum I was starting to have night terrors from months of sleep deprivation and I was developing anxiety so bad that I would tremble with panic before doing something as simple as walking into the grocery store.
At four months postpartum I sometimes forgot to brush my teeth, or wash my hair and regularly looked like I just got ran over while out in public.
At four months postpartum I didn’t identify much with my new life as a mom and I also was completely ashamed to admit that, so I did a lot of avoiding and became very isolated.
At four months postpartum I was spending a lot of time wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into. We had such a lovely, simple life before! What had we done?
In short, at four months postpartum I had not yet adjusted to my role as a mother. Spoiler! I was nowhere close. I’ve vowed to be more transparent about my difficult first year as a mom because I feel that society paints a glowing picture of new parenthood that is somewhat misleading. There are so many amazing, beautiful and wonderful gifts that await you as a parent, this is true. That said, I found new motherhood incredibly challenging and I never had a sniff of what I was getting into, mostly because no one wants to talk about the hard stuff. There is just so much change, literally overnight. Huge, permanent change to every aspect of life that I just couldn’t fathom until I was living it.
My relationships changed. I see my husband much less now because his work responsibilities have grown in order to support our larger household. I miss him desperately. Getting together with family has changed because everyone has different expectations that don’t always work with a baby. Some of my friendships have grown but others have faded away.
My home has changed. We are bursting out of our two bedroom condo now. A home I once loved feels like a prison I can’t escape sometimes and I desperately wish we had more space and a yard for Leo. Baby gear is big and has overtaken every room. Everything has a lock on it now and everything special or dangerous or breakable has to be tucked away.
My body has changed. My hands and wrists are much better now but they will never be the same. My boobs are a mess after breastfeeding. I won’t get into a description of my lady parts but I’m sure you get the idea.
My mind has changed. I’m forgetful, I’m absent minded, I stutter a lot in conversation and I still get anxious over things that *shouldn’t* be a big deal. I still deal with racing thoughts and irrational fears and dark moods and I don’t know if those things will ever go away and that scares the absolute hell out of me.
Here’s the good news. About a month ago, I started to feel like I was getting to where I belonged. Not like a stranger living in my own home. Not like I was babysitting someone else’s child. Not like I didn’t have a place in the world anymore. Not like my son would be better off without me. I felt like a MOTHER and like a capable person and like I could breathe easier and not worry so much. I felt like how I thought I would feel from day one. It just took me longer to get here.
For the first time in a long time, I felt like everything was going to be okay. I can’t tell you what caused this shift exactly. I’ve tried a lot of things to work on my postpartum anxiety and depression and maybe all of those small changes built up? I know I have more work to do, but slowly, bit by bit, I AM adjusting.
It would appear that I was just a late bloomer in my journey and so I’m writing this in case anyone else is, too. In case you thought you should be fully adjusted only a few months in, or maybe it’s caught you by surprise how out of your element you feel at something you always wanted to do. I hear you, and I feel you and I want you to know that you aren’t alone.
Late bloomers still bloom, and you will too.