When I gave birth to my amazing daughter in the fall of 2006, there were a lot of feelings swirling around I didn't understand. Pregnancy, labor, and delivery are so complicated, and my hormones dipped so frequently, I was unable to decipher most of what I felt physically and emotionally. It was all new, confusing, and wonderful in the same breath and still, something was missing. I just didn't know what. There's a lot of reasons why I felt empty after my baby was born. Turns out, with my son five years later, that feeling of complete emptiness was more intense.
The biggest difference, I've realized, is that after my daughter arrived I was diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD). It was severe and, yet, I'd somehow talked myself into believing it was nothing. It actually wasn't nothing and, eventually, I'd have to seek help if I wanted to be the kind of mother I dreamed to be. Then, after a completely different experience having my son (pregnancy and beyond), I realized the two births were more similar than I first thought. The initial feeling of having my body back to myself was sort of jarring and unsettling. Honestly, it all left me feeling pretty lonely, which was something I wasn't prepared for.
Aside from the physical departure, giving birth set off a string of emotions I hadn't anticipated. With both children, I wasn't always sure what I felt after birth, except that I knew I was empty. Here are some of the reasons why: