Mourning The Old You
For the moms out there who were made for their new roles then this is most probably not for you but for the ones of us who spent the first few weeks, months, even years trying to find normality in our new lives, this one’s for you, actually this one is dedicated to you.
I like to consider myself, hang on, I mean I’d like to consider my ‘old self’ a fun loving person, selfish as hell, dance maniac, party animal who only really lived a day at a time. I mean up until I was 29 I still acted like a college student living in a frat house (or whatever the female version of that is). I was sociable and loved being around people, all the time, night and day. It’s actually one of the reasons I’m with my husband because he is pretty similar to me in that way. If there was a party happening you could almost guarantee I’d be the first there and without a doubt the last left at the end of the night/or early morning. I was a free spirit and loved life, yes, I think it sums me up pretty well, a free spirited pre mom who loved life.
Now I’m not the girl that dreamt of her wedding her whole life, I never thought of the intricate details that would layer my wedding gown, or the grossly overpriced but so worth it flowers that would frame the isle I would walk down towards my handsome Prince Charming, although I did find my prince charming he just isn’t a prince and charming isn’t one of his strengths. I never dreamt of trying on dresses with all my closest compadre’s and losing a tear when I knew I had tried on ‘the one’. However I did it all and when it came to finding ‘the dress’ you can’t help but have these movie expectations of knowing once you had found the one. It makes you question your sanity or your apparent built in traits of being a woman when those feelings never actually come, I tried on a dress and I bought that dress (almost had to sell one of my non abused organs to pay for the damn thing). It was that simple but I did wonder why I never had that ahhhh moment, maybe because my brain knew it was just a garment and maybe I’m just not that kind of girl or maybe the movies lie.
You aren’t going to over think your lack of emotions towards a wedding dress but what happens if the same thing happens when your baby is born?
My pregnancy was ‘meh’ to say the least, I literally had problem after problem and once one issue was sorted out of course another one arose (I’m blaming my genes, thanks mom) but honestly and if I can be honest my body was not in the right state to be growing a human and maybe that’s where all the emotionally stuff began.
Contrary to popular belief I actually fell in love with my third trimester, The nausea was gone, my medications were under control and for some unknown reason I felt like a sexy goddess. Never in all my days earth side have I experienced that kind of body positivity. Sadly that really is where all the fun ends. The next part is deep and maybe a little too honest for most to hear.
To be able to get to the end I’ll have to start with my birth story, or more precisely cramming 19 hours of labor into just a few short sentences. Induction booked, laboured (or attempted labour as I like to call it) for 19hrs, 13 of those pain medication free, pelvis shaped like a man’s, emergency C-section and voila baby Remi-Blu arrived, tiny but healthy.
When she was placed on my chest, I felt it, that overwhelming feeling of knowing someone you have only just met for the first time, loving this tiny human with more than your heart can hold. I felt it all and it was magical and everything I had hoped for and so much more but it didn’t last long & again I’ll say the movies lie for making you think that feeling lasts forever.
The first few months were a blur and very much like my pregnancy it was one problem after the next. I can safely say that I (like most women I believe) was trying to deal with a version of post-traumatic stress (let’s call it post labor blues). Even if you have the most perfect textbook labour in the world a tiny part will still haunt you, more for some than others.
Breastfeeding was a total disaster and whether the milk man never delivered my supply of breast milk due to physiological issues, I’m almost certain it can be blamed on that dark shadow in my head and worse than not being able to nourish and feed my baby no one and I seriously mean NO ONE ever told me or advised me that breast feeding would be so mentally challenging. I was so unprepared when option B was to formula feed because I had never thought of (“because breastfeeding is such a naturally and beautiful way to nourish your baby” they all said) it was like having to cram a year of work into one night before a big exam, except the exam was at 2am and I had spent 45 min before that trying to express milk for a hungry screaming baby who was meant to have been fed an hour before that. Thank goodness we live in a country that literally delivers the world 24hrs a day.
Blu was small, born 2.7kg and very quickly dropped to 2.2kg so the inability for me to feed her made the situation even more stressful.
I see women breastfeeding today and I can’t help but feel guilt, still 23 months on and those feelings still creep inside my head from time to time.
PostPartum Depression & Baby Blues
So those are the obvious issues I was dealing with postpartum, however let’s dive into the not so obvious ones (not obvious because when you are on the PPD (PostPartum depression) rollercoaster you wouldn’t even know it if it slapped you in the face). I dabbled in the 75% group of new mothers who deal with Postpartum depression or post baby blues. It sucks and it’s a horrible place to be when you are meant to be the happiest for your baby and for your new life. If only mothers spoke more openly and honestly about the post baby blues, maybe then we could normalise it and it wouldn’t be such a taboo topic, then mothers who are going through it won’t think they are going insane.
Now that the dark shadow in my head has been lifted (thanks to friends, family and professional help) I can now talk about how that stage of my life and my daughter’s life had a whole lot to do with ‘Mourning my old self’.
All of a sudden I didn’t want to be around people anymore, I couldn’t really care if I didn’t shower for days, or brush my hair. I had this overwhelming feeling of numbness (which is crazy considering numbness by true definition means you can’t feel). I couldn’t get excited about anything. I looked at my beautiful, perfect baby girl and felt nothing. I loved her but honestly that’s only because ‘society’ expects you to love your baby, whether or not it was really love I don’t know, but if it was a version of love it was sad and she deserved so much more.
My friends and families lives carried on and mine was just at a standstill. How could I blame them for carrying on, it’s not their fault I had a baby and then it hit me (not right there and then, but a little while later) I was Mourning my old life. Anyone who has ever lost someone knows that feeling when the world carries on around you and you are stuck in a time warp of sadness and loss. My husband and I were passing ships in the night, we barely had the time or energy to actually check in with each other. We had a job to do and that’s what we did, the job.
I miss the old me, the carefree version of me, but she is long gone and it’s taken me a while to get back to some sort of version of her but in a different way. I’m getting there, life is once again important and my old priorities have just morphed into new ones and I look at this mini me in absolute amazement now, I had to go through all that to come out the other end more involved and a better mother because of it.
Let’s talk more about the hardships of motherhood so that the ones struggling don’t think they have lost their minds. Ignore the world and what its expectations of perfect mothers are, it’s an absolute lie and we are worth more than our weights in gold.
Mourn your old life, have a cry and when the time’s right you can embarrass the stained shirts, dark circles around your eyes and puke in your hair where your crown used to be.
I got you,
I feel you,
I am you.