When I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital, I felt so lost and lonely. With excitement and fear all mixed together, I calculated every last breath I took so not to make a mistake and fracture her attachment process in the ways, I believe, were fractured between my mother and I. I wanted to be a good mother — the best mother — but didn't know what that meant. There were too many times when being a new mom just felt like too much of everything. Too much wakefulness. Too much dedicated attention and focus. Too much of me that my daughter wanted and needed all for herself. Only, at times, I didn't have anything left of me to spare because she'd already taken it all.
My thoughts on motherhood aren't traditional, or easily condensed into one essay because even as a grown woman, I've struggled to digest the relationship I had with my own mother growing up. It was turbulent, much like all her relationships, and I often endured the sour parts of her. A divorced, working mother who went back to school meant little time to work on, or develop, the bond that was lacking for so long. My grandmother stepped in most of my life to care for me. She was my greatest ally and champion and the reason I'm everything I am today. She, for the most part, was my mother for so much of my life that, when I brought home my baby, I overexerted my efforts so not to repeat history somehow.
My partner reassured me, often, the many differences between my childhood and our daughter's, but I failed to agree because it always boiled down to that fractured bond. Months into being a new mom, my postpartum depression (PPD) forced me to re-evaluate my life. I'd become listless, empty, and at a time, suicidal. The bond I'd hoped to mend between my baby and I was ruined, and it felt like it was because of me.
By the time medicines and therapies began making any progress, it almost felt like I'd have to be superwoman to make up for lost time. I'd always been with my daughter physically, but I'd been mentally checked out for so long the only way to fix things (I thought) was to be her everything, all the time and no matter what. Just typing that is taxing. Imagine how quickly I overwhelmed myself once my partner returned to work. Motherhood is really hard. Now that I am one, I have far more compassion towards my own mother and all she must've gone through, too. Maybe she endured too much wakefulness. Maybe I needed too much dedicated attention and focus. Maybe I demanded too much of her. Maybe, at times, she didn't have anything left to spare because I'd already taken it all.
Sometimes, being a new mom is too much. There's no way around it. No matter what you promise, you'll inevitably have to compromise something. Here are some times my new baby and all the responsibilities were a little too much for me. because let's be honest, sometimes it just, is.
When The Baby Won't Stop Crying
The worst part of being a new mom, for me, was the incessant crying. It's the kind that, no matter what you try to fix it, doesn't stop. You don't want your baby to be in pain or uncomfortable. You don't want them to be gassy or hungry or suffer a dirty diaper. I get it.
My daughter cried a lot until we discovered the power of swaddling. It was life-changing (for this baby, but not our youngest). I remember these times with such hesitancy because I'd get so frustrated I couldn't fix what was wrong and eventually, I'd end up, crying, too.
When The Baby Won't Sleep
We had a lot of sleep issues in the beginning. My baby was born jaundiced with a smashed nose and digestive issues. These things all contributed to her sleep distress. When the baby didn't sleep, I didn't sleep. It was all too much. All of it.
When The Baby Won't Eat
This was the first time (obviously) I attempted breastfeeding, and I was terrible at it. Even with the help of a lactation consultant and many nurses' advice, I was too anxious to get it down. My baby wouldn't latch and all the time we'd spent sitting there, forcing it, only made me feel worse. When we took to formula (for her digestive problems also), it felt like I'd failed her. I so wanted to be a breastfeeding mom and already, from the first hospital day, I'd let her down.
When You're Already Sleep-Deprived
There comes a point of new motherhood where the lack of sleep catches up. It's accumulated and you've ignored it and gone on doing what you need to do, until one day (like me), you're so tired your view of the entire world has changed. I went from hopeful new mom to depressed so quickly, I often wonder what a decent night's sleep would've done to help me and my baby get through. Fatigue is part of it, yes, but at some point, something's gotta give.
When Everything Is A Mess
I'm a known clean freak. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) along with my anxiety and bouts of depression. It's funny how a baby can change so much in such a short amount of time. Within a few days, everything I'd done before baby? Nope. The house was a mess and, internally, I was, too. It was the first time I'd ever had to really let things go in order to do what was necessary (caring for my baby).
When A Shower Is All You Want (And Fail)
Some days, when my partner worked long hours and I was left with our daughter with no time to myself, all I longed for was to be clean. A good shower made me feel like I could change the world, so when it wasn't possible it affected everything.
When You Forget Pieces Of Life Before Motherhood
I tried for too long to hold onto pieces of me that I should've let go of. I'd always dreamed of being this kick-ass new mom, doing all the things I'd done before procreating and without a hitch.
As it turns out, it's not that easy (well, it wasn't for me). I wanted to be the same friend I was to my friends, the same partner, the same everything, but I just wasn't. I was a mom, losing herself inside the idea of it until there'd be nothing left of me.
When You Don't Feel The Bond
As I said, the bond everyone refers to is a powerful thing. I experienced it immediately with my youngest and there's a clear divider between how "easy" (it's relative) his early days were compared to being a new mom struggling to bond. Part of it was the hormonal imbalance, PPD, and the other part was probably my fear of bonding. With my childhood as the only set example, maybe I feared succeeding more than failing. What if I really was better than my mother? The pressure almost became too much.
When You're Suffering From Postpartum Depression
PPD is a serious diagnosis. I didn't know I had it until it nearly ended my life. It's more than feeling overwhelmed by this new human in your life, and can definitely change the way you feel about motherhood. Before I got help, I felt like I wasn't good enough to be my baby's mom; that she deserved so much better. The responsibility was so heavy, I actually thought my absence would've been better for her.
Now I know those feelings aren't remotely true or correct, and I'm sorry so much of our time together was separated: her, growing and changing from afar while I tried to recover a stable mental health platform so that I could be what she needed, and what I needed when I was a child.