"Postpartum won't happen to me" a conversation I had in my mind almost daily while pregnant with my son. I was the most peaceful and resilient I had ever been in my life, growing a human in my body gave me this superwoman mentality, and I expected it to continue on that way once I had him.
Although a doctor didn't officially diagnose me; for almost a year, I struggled with anxiety and looking back most likely mild depression.
Let's talk about WHAT REALLY happens when you become a MAMA!
What I've learned is:
YOUR IDENTITY SHIFTS, who am I now? Whoever you were before having the baby is tossed out the window. You get to rebuild and decide what kind of mom, friend, daughter and partner etc. that you want to be moving forward. Everything gets turned upside down because now there's this little human who's the center of your world. It's no longer ALL about you, and some significant adjustments happen along the way.
IT'S HARD! For many of us, we feel like we no longer fit in our old world, especially if a lot of your friends or co-workers don't have children yet. Holding conversations and NOT talking about your child 24/7 can be challenging. Also, the whole, NOT SLEEPING thing is HARD!
IT'S LONELY even if you have a great support system and a partner there's still this undeniable sense of loneliness that hangs over you, and it hits in waves in your motherhood journey. For me, it hit in the newborn phase, rarely seeing friends and not working. It struck again going back to work being the only new mom at a startup. Popping up sporadically and I was just too prideful to reach for the phone and connect with people in my life. I felt like I was the only one going through it and didn't want to bother anyone.
IT PUTS PRESSURE ON YOUR PARTNERSHIP, my partner and I have waded through some heavy stuff and some blissful occasions, but becoming a parent adds an extra dose of force on your life together. You and your partner have to figure out a new rhythm that works for you BOTH. You also have to make sure you are giving each other "me time", "friend time" and "together time". Yes, there is this precious new life in your life who needs lots of your attention, but you get to prioritize each other's needs as well.
IT'S MORE ABOUT HEALING OURSELVES than correcting your child. Our children are learning the world for the first time, so why are we getting so heated that they aren't listening to us? Because we haven't healed from our own childhood wounds of not being seen or heard. I've become so much more in tune with a lot of unmet needs from my childhood; I had to reparent myself to be a better mom for my son. I grew up in an alcoholic home, and so I decided the cycle ends with me. I can't blame my problems on my son or my parents. I had to take radical responsibility for myself and determined what kind of parent + human I wanted to be in this world. I chose to become conscious about my inner world, reactions and learn more about mindful parenting techniques so that I don't project my pain on my son.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IS REAL and can happen to ANYONE. If you end up feeling depression or anxiety creepy in after birth, DO NOT be afraid to ask for help, to take steps to feel better, mama! I now know the signs, and I will never be too embarrassed or prideful to take the steps needed to get the help I need moving forward.
My biggest advice is to take motherhood in strides, expect things to change and not remain the same, move with the seasons, don't put pressure on yourself and ASK FOR HELP! We all need a community or a support system. If you need a fellow mama to chat with, I got you girl DM me. I'd love to support you.
The Rebel Soul Mama
Shannon McAlister | Educator, wifey and conscious mama who is practicing mindful living + appreciating the everyday magic!