Everyone likes to talk about the pregnancy, but no one talks about the first month of motherhood.
Maybe because it’s a haze, maybe it’s to protect other new mothers and not fear-monger, or maybe there is a lot of stigma that lies in being honest about how tough those first hours, days, and weeks are.
I truly believe I had disconnected from my body the first couple days of Jasper’s life. My labour and his birth traumatized me. It went completely off the rails and not according to plan. I wanted a natural birth under the care of my midwife but I ended up being induced under the care of an ob/gun with multiple interventions for pain and a vacuum delivery. I remember hearing in prenatal class that you need to “go with the flow” during labour because all that matters is the safe delivery of baby, so that’s what I did. But I didn’t realize that I needed time afterwards to heal and mourn the plans that were lost and guilt I felt.
The first couple days were dark. I was weepy, exhausted, sore and overwhelmed. My emotions would change minute to minute, weepiness and weariness consumed me. The rational side of my brain understood the change in hormones and the enormous burden of becoming a parent were normal to be felt, but I could not drag myself out of the fog. My partner, the supportive, patient, loving man that he is took care of our son and myself for the first couple weeks and he encouraged me to connect with my therapist by day 3. It made an enormous difference to have my feelings affirmed and try to categorize my fears and worries into what is real and what can be solved.
The experience of working my way through the baby blues and first month of parenthood has taught me so much respect, reverence and love towards new mothers. In some ways I wish I had this experience before working with the young parents I did before my maternity leave. It has given me so much perspective of the struggles and the importance of a network when becoming a parent. I don’t think I would have made it through without my partner, my parents and in-laws who live near by, and the calls and texts from friends who also recently became parents who sent messages of reassurance and reality.
I talk about how terrible and joyous the first month is because I believe that when I share part of my story, it also gives permission for others to share theirs. I feel as though some of my friends who shared their postpartum journeys would have not shared their struggles if they had not known I was in a dark place. Which is human, to avoid vulnerability unless you feel like you might find belonging and understanding. I hope to become a mental health practitioner and friend who can be as open and vulnerable to help others during this crazy time of life.
I still struggle in the day to day. We we only one month in. J and I are still learning so much about one another and trying to find our groove. But I’m learning to slow down, savour the moments more and google much less!