I’m gonna be brutally honest with you. Motherhood is hard AF.
Never in my life have I experienced so many new challenges and hurdles when it comes to attempting to raise a “perfect” child. It seems like you can’t get through one phase without another one slapping you right in the face (or drooling over your face – Thanks, kiddo!) There are so many stages your child has to go through to develop into a little human being – the newborn stage, the infant stage, the shit-my-pants-three-times-a-day phase; all relevant to healthy brain (and bowel) developments, but also learning experiences for mama.
And despite all the books, and blogs, and conversations I’ve had with wise mothers, older mothers, new mamas, and all the important people in between, there is one thing that I wasn’t prepared for, and that’s how hard motherhood is. While the books warn you “this will be the hardest journey you will walk through”, no one really admits just HOW hard motherhood is. And in my six-month motherhood wisdom, there aren’t enough mothers being damn honest about it. I’m all for the mothers who look (and probably) do have their shit together, but I’m not a well-put together mom, and I need other “WTF am I doing?” moms in my life, especially after being diagnosed with postpartum depression. Once the baby blues morphed into full-blown PPD, things got a hell of a lot harder, trying to juggle parenting while battling the crippling failure I feel as a new mom.
If you’re wondering, after I was diagnosed with PPD, I did the same thing when I was pregnant: I started reading books, browsing mom blogs, and talking to a few close moms that I could trust my feelings with. Despite all my research and confiding in others, I still felt there wasn’t enough “honesty” about battling PPD as a new mom with a new fussy baby. So, in lieu of the endless reading and sleeping nights I’ve encountered over the last six months, I decided to create a list of “honest” truths (or facts) I wished someone would have told me about PPD:
1) “I’m a bad mom!”
The number one thing my PPD has done to me is question whether I’m a good mom. I find myself asking this question multiple times a day, even more on the really bad days. Despite doing all the research, and following all the advice of my doctors and public health nurses, there are many times I still feel like I’m not good enough to be a mom to by baby boy.
The more my brain batters me into believing this lie, the sadder I became. I convinced myself I wasn’t meant to be a mother; being a mom is extremely hard, but when you feel you’re not good enough, motherhood becomes a whole lot harder. It’s hard to be a good mother when you start not loving yourself.
Anytime I can’t get my baby to eat, or sleep, or if he’s fussy for no reason and I can’t console him, I instantly feel like a bad mom. Or the extra few moments I take to linger in the bathroom for a “break” or if I creep Instagram for a few extra minutes, I suddenly feel guilty – that this is time I should be spending with my kid. Any time I take for myself makes me feel like a bad mom. Even when it comes to shopping, I bought three $6 shirts (on a super clearance sale), and was instant plagued with guilt that I didn’t use it to buy something for my child.
No matter what I do, whether it’s for myself, my baby, or our little family, my brain somehow convinces me that everything isn’t good enough. And no amount of reading prepared me for the countless times I have cried since being diagnosed with PPD, because the guilt and sadness you experience can be overwhelming.
2) You’re tired… all the damn time!
When a mother tells you she is tired, she is tired! And moms suffering through PPD? You’re mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted all the damn time. Even on the good days, I still have that lingering feeling of “I’m done!” in the back of my head.
Some days it takes every ounce of willpower left in me to get through even the minor of tasks. I really thought that falling asleep standing up or in the shower was something that only happened in the movies, until I became a mother. Motherhood is exhausting to a fault, and as I struggle with the crippling obsessive thoughts with my PPD, I feel like a useless lump all the time.
And the worst part? The majority of the time, no matter how tired I am, I cannot sleep. So many countless moms have told me nap while the baby naps, but that rarely happens for me. I have to be sleep deprived before I can nap with baby. I spend the majority of baby’s naps crippled with fear that he’ll stop breathing, or thoughts of him hitting his head on the crib and causing brain damage, and on and on goes my obsessive thinking. Even at night, it takes me a while to sleep because I can spend hours watching his baby monitor to make sure his chest is still rising and falling.
Becoming a new mother means adding new worries to your plate, but my PPD takes these new fears and worries to the extreme. I fully admit that I have to take medication and go to therapy to help with my symptoms because I was too afraid to leave the house during my baby’s first few months of life, afraid something bad would happen. And while these symptoms have started to diminish with the adjustment of my new meds, I know it will take a long time for me to control these fears, but until that time comes, I have to accept that being sleep deprived is now a way of life for me.
3) You’ll hate your spouse
I mean this somewhat in a lighthearted way. I don’t actually hate my spouse (in fact I love him very much – and he’s a fantastic dad!), it’s just some days you’re going to feel extremely envious of them.
Have you asked yourself these questions: Why don’t they feel the way I do? Why does parenthood come so easy to them? How come their not damn tired all the time? Why can they get the baby to sleep and I can’t? GOD, I want to punch them in the face! If you have, then you’re feeling what I call parental jealously. Maybe my spouse is just better at hiding his exhaustion and his emotions, or maybe he just has a natural knack for fatherhood, but damn there are days I just want to strangle him because he is the perfect Dad, and I’m the one covered in spit up and failed for two hours to get the baby to go down for a nap. So of course, when he gets the baby down in ten minutes, I instantly get pouty and jealous.
It’s also hard on the days when you’ve really just had enough, you’ve opted for watching Disney+ with the baby instead of doing household duties all day, and your spouse calls you out on it. My instant reaction is anger because by this point my patience is a thinly snapped wire. Sometimes it secretly feels like he’s telling me I’m a bad mom (see Fact One), and then I feel bad for being so “lazy” because I’m just so damn tired (see Fact Two).
I know it sounds petty and there are days I feel guilty that I get in a snot about my husband’s parenting skills, and I do feel bad that I get jealous sometimes, but these were emotions that no one prepared me for. But on the days where I’m on the opposite side of the battle field with my spouse, I always try to keep this in mind: It’s you and them vs. the problem, not you vs. them. This little motto helps keep me grounded on the difficult days, especially when I feel defeated. Honest communication with your spouse is important to get through these hurdles, so before the pettiness festers too far, explain how you feel to clear the air.
4) “Am I doing enough for baby?”
You wake up at seven, kiss your spouse as they leave for work, and then it’s you and the baby until six o’clock. You feed him, change his bummy, dress him, and generally have him ready for the day. If you’re really blessed, you’ll have a few minutes for yourself to wash your face and throw on some clothes besides pjs.
Now it’s time to start the Mommy-Baby routine: Playtime, tummy time, exercises, read a book, sing rhymes, swing time, then finally nap time. You look at your watch. It’s only ten o’clock. Now what?
Your days suddenly blur together into a never-ending schedule of feedings, naps, and playtime. And I know this makes me sound so friggin’ ungrateful, but I was never a routine person, and now that I have one, there are days where I just hate it. My life revolves around consistent planning now, days planned out, activities plotted; when my spouse gets home at six o’clock I’m ready to throw in the towel and quit. But then there is the nightly bedtime routine, and there is more planning, more routines!
But when you have a day where you’ve done absolutely everything with your baby before ten o’clock, I get anxious and stir-crazy. That’s when I start to feel that I’m not “doing enough” with my baby. How much time am I supposed to devote a day to playtime? Tummy time? How much should I have them in my arms? What about nap time? Is it bad thing if I let him babble in his crib for an extra half-hour while I just give myself the mental break and creep FB Marketplace for used baby items? When it comes to my PPD, I believe that I’m never doing enough, even though I’m doing everything I absolutely can to raise a healthy baby.
Unfortunately, this feeling sometimes never goes away. I never feel like I’m doing enough. And I don’t mean in the sense that I’m trying to spoil my child, it’s just the endless hours of playtime can seem daunting. I feel restless when I finally get him to nap because what if he sleeps to long? So, the solution? Give yourself mental breaks and join baby groups. Simply, if you’re able to, get out of the house.
I joined parent support groups that babysit while the moms get a chance to talk and discuss similar issues. I also joined baby groups, not just for the fact that my baby had other children to interact with, but so I had mothers I could vent to and confide in on the rough days. Cause 9 chances out of 10, even if another mother isn’t battling PPD, she has similar struggles and may offer advice. Do what you can to keep yourself sane. Even if means window-shopping at Winners or strolling through Walmart (Yes, be that kind of Mom!).
5) Some days you’ll want to run away
Let’s be honest here: I love my baby. He is one of the best things that ever happened to me, and even on my worst day, I will still love my son until my dying day. With that said though, when my PPD has me in a downward spiral, I’ll admit there are days where I want to run away screaming.
Again, this isn’t because I don’t love my son, it’s just sometimes I get so overwhelmed with everything, that I want to disappear. My emotions become too much to handle, the sadness is devastating, and the guilt eats me alive. There are days where my son is crying and I just want to hop in my car and drive away to start over somewhere new. While I would never actually do this, there are days my PPD tells me to “Run!” and the urge seems tempting.
What I’ve come to realize is when I reach these moments, it means it’s time for mommy to have a break. By this point, I’m probably overtired and a little at my wits end. Thankfully, I have a spouse that can give me a break, but this isn’t always optional (especially when he’s at work). While I have to push through these moments where I want to hightail it out of my own home, I wish someone would’ve warned me that there would have been days where I felt like a prisoner in my own home.
Bonus: You’re still a great Mom!!
Listen, no matter how much your PPD convinces you that you’re worthless, you’re not good enough, or that you’re ungrateful, remember this… you are still a kick-ass Mom!
Not every day of motherhood is a great day. Sometimes we’ll feel resentful of the tiny human that infiltrated our home, and on the bad days you’ll mourn your former child-free life. But despite all this, despite the “bad” things you feel, you’re still only human. Being a mother is hard work and caring for a baby is super hard, but even on the days you feel you are floundering or just don’t feel like being a Mom, you are still a great Mom! So pat yourself on the back, cause you’re surviving, and plus you made a cute baby, too!
Despite suffering from PPD, I know I will eventually get better, but above all else, I know I don’t love my son any less because of the way my PPD makes me feel. One day I won’t be clouded by these awful lies, just right now I need to push through them as best I can. But remember, if you need to ask for help, please do so. You’re not a bad mom because you feel guilty taking care of yourself and you’re not a bad mom to admit things are getting too overwhelming. I just wish someone would have been honest with me about how tough it can be.
And as always,
Fight the good fight!