If there is one thing they don’t warn you about after having a baby is that you’ll grieve your old life sans baby.
Remember that solitude time you could have to yourself on a day off or being able to binge watch a show on Netflix at your own leisure? Yeah, I don’t either.
Once baby comes along, your life really isn’t your own anymore. You’ll put yourself on the back burner to make baby the number one priority. Your day becomes consumed with diapers, play time, nap time (if you’re lucky), and constantly preparing bottles and snacks. When it comes to baby, I rarely ever put myself first. My little one is my priority as I’m responsible for their life. There have been many times over the last ten months that I actually lost track of when I last showered or had ten minutes to myself because I’ve been too busy being a mom.
I don’t say any of this because I resent my baby – not in the slightest. It’s just life changes drastically and you’re truly not warned about it. You go through the most intense pain during labour to deliver your baby into this world and then a few days later you’re sent home, body surging with hormones and sore AF.
But like anything in life, you take it day by day. You learn new things with your baby. You grow together and adapt to your new life. You grow accustom to being covered in spit up and other bodily fluids. You’re a mess, all the time. But that’s ok, so long as baby is safe and happy.
And then the postpartum depression hits.
Like my other mental health issues, it all comes and goes in waves. Not every day is a bad day; sometimes it’s just bad moments. But it’s make everything so much harder. I have to take care of this little life, maintain a household, remember to take the dog out to pee, make supper for my family, and then it’s bedtime. Where in the run of a day do I find time for me? Most days I don’t.
While Covid-19 has not helped matters in the slightest, the isolation of being a new mom has been taking its toll. My support system is limited, and since baby groups were cancelled, I don’t get to have vent time with other mommies or ask for advice or help. Childless friends just don’t quite get how hard it really is. And when baby goes through a “I only want Dad” phase, I’m left with my hands tied together.
And as the PPD seeps in and starts aggravating my depression and anxiety, I start to feel useless. When I can’t get baby to stop crying, I feel like a failure. When we have completed our routine before lunchtime, I find myself counting down the hours until my husband gets home from work. I’ve developed the three o’clock blues.
Three o’clock has become my witching hour. It’s when things start to go downhill real fast. It’s when my anxiety decided it wants to pick on me and fill my head with intrusive thoughts. Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed with every little task I have to do for the rest of the day. But when baby gets bored, doesn’t want to play, or jump in the jolly jumper, or even be held, I find myself throwing my hands up in defeat. I just want to throw in the towel, and on the really bad days, I want to hop in my car and just run away so I can find some peace and quiet. I start craving some alone time. I don’t resent the little creature that now lives in my home, I hate that I feel like I’m not a good enough mom. I had feeling like I’m failing at this whole mom thing.
I find myself watching the clock, counting down the hours, minutes, even the seconds. I’ve become obsessed with the clock and find it difficult to just “enjoy the moment” with my baby. I find myself unable to stay focused or motivated. My routine gets thrown off balance, therefore baby is left feeling the effects of my depression, too. And it hurts to know that. It’s hard to be a new mom and know your son will have to someday understand that mommy will have many days she won’t be a good mom. She’ll feel like she’s failing, and he just won’t understand.
So, I watch the clock. I count down the hours to when my only support person can get home from work and take over for a little bit, even though he’s pulled a long day to provide for us, too. Then it’s time to cook supper, tidy up, and then despite the exhaustion, I stay up late because it’s my time to work to help make a living for us. Then the alarm clock goes off a few hours later and I start all over again.
They don’t warn you how much during the bad moments you’ll grieve for your old life – to wish you had the time just to relax and watch a movie, to go have a coffee with a friend without a baby glued to your hip. And while I love my son to the ends of this earth, I miss me. I grieve the old me I used to be.
And while not every day is a bad day, it’s hard every day. It’s hard supporting and providing for a little human. There are lots of good moments, too, but when the three o’clock blues set in, I realize I’m running on low fumes; I’m reaching my wit’s end for the day and I still usually have three to four hours to push through yet.
Being a mom is the most rewarding thing in the world, but it’s tough, especially living with mental health issues.
So, I grieve my old life, but remind myself that my new life is great, too. Sure, mom life has tested my limits, but I realize now more than ever that I have to make me a priority, too. Without a happy mom, there won’t be a happy baby. And I’m starting to understand that now. While I feel guilty for taking any time for myself, I understand it’s necessary. The guilt does eat me alive some days, and my PPD likes to kick me when I’m down, but I have to keep pushing through. My baby depends on me. And I depend on me, too. I need to be healthy and happy, too.
Remember when things in life use to be easy?
Yeah, I don’t either.
And as always,
Fight the good fight.