In those first few weeks after my son's birth, my parents stayed at my house and nurtured me. My mom served me little cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (cut into triangles), endless cups of tea, and cuddled the baby while I napped and showered and tried to figure out the whole breastfeeding deal. Along with my husband, she was my support network and really proved to me that you can still feel like yourself when you're postpartum, even and especially when you're feeling anything but.
Up to 80% of new moms get the so called "baby blues" and, honestly, is it any wonder? As first-time moms we're adjusting to huge changes in our bodies, our hormones, our work situation, our family dynamics, and in our self image. Those adjustments are occurring when we're sore from labor and delivery, sleep-deprived, and unsure of this new life change. For some women, these normal feelings of slight sadness can intensify and turn into postpartum depression; a more serious but treatable condition that a reported 10% of postpartum women endure.
But for me, and many other moms, the biggest change is that we are now and for ever more, no longer a single unit. We will never be carefree and un-tethered ever again. Sure, motherhood is rewarding far beyond this and makes up for it with every smile and milestone your child reaches, but the crushing weight of responsibility can be (especially in those first few weeks) difficult to bear.
Now that I am few years into this mothering gig, I take the overwhelming responsibility in my stride. Still, occasionally it bites me in the butt and reminds me that my life isn't completely my own anymore. Like this week, for example, when I saw a job opportunity traveling around the world on a sailing boat and almost clicked "apply" before realizing I have a child. However and (contrary to popular belief) despite the little adjustments all parents must make in order to raise another human being, it is possible to still feel like yourself. I promise.