When you’re pregnant, everyone has advice to give about the newborn days of parenthood. Everyone tells you how fast it flies by. They encourage you to enjoy every second. If you blink, you’ll miss it. No one tells you how long the hours can feel when you have no one to talk to other than your wide-eyed newborn who can’t talk back. No one ever mentions how lonely it is raising a newborn, and it’s the one thing I wish someone had told me, so at least I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling lonely.
When I brought home my baby for the first time, there were lots of things I felt: joy, excitement, terror, awe, but one of the most constant feelings during those early weeks of motherhood was loneliness. I had just graduated college a mere week before giving birth. I had worked full-time at a job where I was constantly in contact with other women, spending my retail shifts folding clothes and talking about life. I was used to having people around me all the time, and suddenly I was at home all day every day with a newborn, and I was not prepared for how much I would long for adult interaction — or how little of it I would get.
I know friends and family were trying to give me space to adjust to motherhood, but what I really needed was someone to talk to or hang out with so I could feel like myself again. I felt forgotten and left out.
I thought that requests to come visit me and my new baby would start pouring in, but after the initial rush of people who came to visit at the hospital and a couple friends who came by the house with food or gifts, it was radio silence. I would get the occasional congratulatory text, but that was about it. I know friends and family were trying to give me space to adjust to motherhood, but what I really needed was someone to talk to or hang out with so I could feel like myself again. I felt forgotten and left out.
I didn’t even have my husband to fall back on to ease the loneliness of raising our newborn. When he came home, I needed help soothing the baby and for him to be “on duty” so I could take a shower. I was often so tired from the long days of caring for our newborn that I couldn’t think clearly enough to talk to him — and even if I did have the energy, I felt like there was nothing to talk about. My days were achingly similar, one day to the next. There was nothing new to report, no customers to complain about, no academic accomplishments to share like there used to be. The most I could hope for was a wild diaper story to tell, and truthfully, I would rather deal with having nothing to say in that regard.
I wish I had been more prepared for the loneliness of new motherhood, or at the very least, that I had known that it would get easier. While the adjustment to staying home with my newborn was hard, I made it even harder on myself by not asking for the one thing I needed: someone to talk to. I felt like I was supposed to stay closed off from everyone because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you have a new baby. You’re supposed to stay home and bond. You’re supposed to be soaking up every moment. But the truth is, it gets boring staring at your newborn and talking to someone who can’t respond to you all day every day.
I felt so isolated in those first few months that I found myself wondering if I had made a mistake by becoming a mother.
It’s strange to feel alone when you are constantly tethered to another human being, but it truly is a lonely experience. I felt so isolated in those first few months that I found myself wondering if I had made a mistake by becoming a mother. I loved my baby, but I didn’t love the life that came with being a stay-at-home mom. I craved interaction and adult conversation, and that was suddenly gone.
Luckily, motherhood became much less lonely over time. As I became more confident taking my baby out into the world, I was able to reconnect with friends. And as my baby became older, he became more responsive, making motherhood so much more fulfilling. Keeping up with relationships is much harder now than it was pre-baby, but it’s so worth it to stave off the loneliness I felt when I entered into motherhood. You need a village to survive this journey, because raising a newborn is hard, but feeling like you’re in it alone is so much harder.