Updated: Oct 22, 2020
Let it out mama. It's OK!
Hey mama, there's a lot on your plate. How are YOU feeling? How do you approach your emotions in mamahood?
At first, I felt so embarrassed to cry about the stress I had as a new mama. I would think to myself - I'm usually stronger than this. Why can't I handle this? After the first weekend of Mason being home, my husband, B, returned to the office, and I didn't want him to know that I was feeling like such a failure. So when he would come home from work, I would say that Mason and I had a great day (which is true), but I wouldn't mention the difficult parts. Why was it so hard for me to talk to B about these things? I knew he would worry about my well-being, and I didn't want to add even more stress to his day. And B's incredible because he would go into total dad-mode when he came home. On weekends, he would always insist that I go out for a stroll by myself to have some me-time. I'd always tell myself that if B could manage to work around the clock and come home to take care of a newborn, I could control my emotions, right?
That all changed within a few weeks. Aside from my hormones being out of wack, I was struggling with my physical and mental health. My body was thinner before my pregnancy, and I truly embraced my body during pregnancy, but after Mason was born, I couldn't look at myself without getting upset. I was terribly sore and still recovering from his birth. For the first few weeks, I cried quietly every single time I took a shower. I did not directly breastfeed Mason, but I was pumping every 2-3 hours, day and night. My boobs hurt due to continuously clogged ducts. I tried every at-home remedy and even went to my doctor a couple of times to ensure that I didn't have an infection (thankfully, I did not have any). I felt so worn out and as if I had no control of my body.
June 2018 | Pre-Pregnancy June 2019 | 31 Weeks Pregnant
On one particular day, I got into the shower, and I just lost it. I couldn't keep my cries quiet and was full-on sobbing. B quickly came in and pulled the shower curtain back a bit to check on me. I immediately snatched the curtain and pulled it shut. I told him, "Please, don't look at me. I'm fine. I'm just hormonal." He left the bathroom, and when I finished showering and changing, I sat next to him on the couch. I took a deep breath, and for the first time, I told B that I wasn't feeling like myself, and I shared everything I had been going through. I don't know how long I was talking (and crying), but B sat with his hand on mine and just listened. He shared his take on this new parent life, and we felt so much better afterward. We made a deal that we'd always communicate with one another when we were feeling overwhelmed, especially as new parents.
Thinking about my feelings versus saying my feelings aloud were two very different experiences. Yes, I believe that telling myself, "You can do this," as motivation is helpful. However, the issue I had was that telling myself became more of convincing myself. My thoughts became less motivational and more frustrating. I found myself thinking - Nothing is wrong with you. Stop being dramatic. Stop complaining. You're not tired. You're fine. I've learned that I need to say how I felt aloud, and it's definitely helped me break down why I feel upset.
Now, don't get me wrong. While the amount of my meltdowns has slowed down, I'll still have a good cry when we're having a super rough day. The difference now is that I'm comfortable with myself to communicate this to B. I'm able to say, "Hey, I'm having a rough day with Mason, and I just need a few minutes to myself" (this goes for B, too). Being a mama is the best damn thing. Of course, it's still challenging, but my love for our little one is no less. I have moments feeling my personal mom-guilt and failure. I have moments of worrying and panic. But I'm here to share that I learned how these moments shouldn't be avoided or ignored. There is no shame in having a meltdown, and every mama, every parent is going through something different. My personal challenges in mamahood are not to be taken as "better" or "worse" than any other mama's. For me, reading about other mama's experiences helped me further realize that I'm not alone in my feelings and that I, too, can do this. It's given me a new community that I'm so happy to be a part of. Let's continue to respect and support each other. Keep going, mama. You're doing great.