My Postpartum Struggles
I really went back and forth on whether or not I should write this post. On one hand, I’m all about being transparent in sharing my story, but sometimes I feel like my struggles can be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And they totally are! I have a healthy baby and I am doing okay most of the time. But I want to share this experience because I think it’s an important reminder to any new moms to slow down, give yourself grace and enjoy the journey. There’s not enough conversation happening around this, I believe. So, here we go.
I experienced a major shift around 4-months in my postpartum journey.
Even though I seem to have my sh*t together most days, I suddenly felt like a total mess. Like I felt like my life was unraveling in so many ways. I think it’s because I was trying so hard to be the best at everything, that I finally crashed.
This month has been a struggle in my motherhood journey.
I think a lot of it is due to societal expectations. At 4-months postpartum, you no longer have a newborn. Your baby is supposed to be sleeping through the night. You are expected to go back to work full-time (if you do work). Your body should be fully recovered. You should have the hang of this mom thing down. Right?
I think the only way to describe the experience is like when you do a DIY home repair on your leaking sink instead of calling a plumber. You know deep down that you will eventually need to repair that leak and make the investment. Instead, you try to pretend to be a repair man, when you are far from it. You just want to patch it up yourself and get back to your life. You may get the leak to stop for a few days and it feels like you are a total rockstar (saving money and getting it done yourself - winning) but, weeks or even months later, it starts leaking again.
At four months, the “leak” I had been attempting to quickly bandage on my own literally turned into a full blown flood. My life was a wreck. Or at least, felt like it. What happened is that I was trying to put a bandaid on my old life instead of putting the pieces together to create a new life that made sense for my new reality as a mom.
Let’s just say, after a few months of trying to doing #allthethings and be a mom, I finally crashed.
First off, the physical changes started to happen. I think my hormones caught up to me. My skin has lost its glow from pregnancy, my hair started to fall out and the weight that had been magically melting away, thanks to breastfeeding, started to do the opposite. In fact, I think I’ve started to gain weight. So, there’s that. The wrinkles on my forehead kept getting deeper. It sounds vain, but I started to dislike the person I saw in the mirror instead of embracing who I was becoming. I was too tired to workout, yet still so hungry from breastfeeding and trying to keep my milk supply up. It just felt like I was never doing enough to get my body “back”. And the physical changes made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I was also putting way too much pressure on myself to “bounce back” when my body wasn’t ready.
Give your body grace. It took 9-months to create your little baby and it will take time to become the body you want it to be.
On top of physical changes, I suddenly felt so different emotionally. The newborn haze had worn off. The excuse of having a baby no longer seemed applicable. In society’s eyes, it was time for me to be a fully functional adult again. No more excuses of late nights and getting used to being a parent now. But juggling it all was becoming harder and harder. I’ve had four months, my big girl pants should be well adjusted! But they weren’t.
I think it’s because I’ve been doing everything for everyone and had completely forgotten about myself.
I wasn’t filling my cup. I thought I could get away with it these past few months, but now my cup was empty. It was bone dry. Even though time is so different now, I was making excuses and not letting others help me. I was trying to push through. I was piling on more things that I could not handle. Again, because I wanted to prove I could do it. But what I realized is that sometimes you just need a break. Sometimes, less can be more. And sometimes that means letting go.
Motherhood is realizing that there will always be something to worry about. And that you will always have someone else to put first. But you cannot forget about yourself!
When it comes to work…I went back to work and running my business at 4-weeks postpartum. Crazy, right? And no, I do not deserve a badge of honor for doing this. We need to stop glorifying going back to work immediately after having a baby. I think I was rushing back to prove that I could. It was honestly the biggest mistake.
Since I went immediately back to work, by 4-months postpartum, I was freaking exhausted. I never took a break! I never took the time I needed to adjust into my new life because I was so busy trying to work and had 500 tabs open at all times both on my computer and my brain. I also created unrealistic expectations for myself and the clients I work with. I never thought through how my work should evolve once I became a mom. So, I suddenly felt like I was dropping balls left and right, not living up to expectations and scrambling to figure out how to run my business while raising a baby. I didn’t realize that I would have to evolve.
You work will no longer define you when you become a mom. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do work you love and find time to be a mom.
All of this is to share that each stage of motherhood will have its struggles. I know it will never be easy. But I also want to shed light on the unrealistic expectations we can put on ourselves. We do not have to be everything to everyone. We can’t aways be the perfect mom, perfect employee or business owner, perfect wife, and perfect friend all at once. But we can try to do our best each day.
I still don’t have it all figured out, but I am trying. I am working on new expectations of what I can and cannot do. I am learning to be my own biggest cheerleader. I now know that there will be really hard days followed by incredible ones. I know that some days my best will never be enough for others, but that I have to keep marching forward. Because that’s what moms do.
This is just my journey. I know that it’s not the same for everyone. But I want to remind you that you are doing an amazing job. And to take a few minutes each day to remind yourself that!