The first time I had a baby I lied to you. When you asked me if I needed anything, my smile was fake and my voice cracked as I responded, “No thanks! I’m doing great!” When I finally let you visit it took every ounce of strength to open my front door and let you in.
Remember those days and days of hiding out with my infant? It was much more than “bonding with the baby” as I stated. It was so that I could hide my agony and hurt. Even though we were bonding, I was still suffering. I was grieving, afraid, lonely, and exhausted. Worst of all, I was traumatized. I was scared to let you see me at my absolute worst, both physically and mentally. So, I hid and believed there was something wrong with me. I felt like a failure because I needed support, understanding, and tenderness.
Add to this the absolute love I felt for my new baby. I still cannot find the words to describe the attachment, endearment, pride, protectiveness, obsession, and true infatuation I felt for the precious new life that had joined my family. I was over-the-moon elated, so I found myself in a confused concoction of swirling emotion. I didn’t know what to do and I was embarrassed to ask for help.
None of this is your fault. You see, it wasn’t fair to you or me that I wrapped my pain and tucked away my need for solace. I listened to all of those voices that said I should be strong and completely capable of dealing with everything on my own. Loved ones were critical of my first birth experience and the way it made me feel. Some were offended at their role or lack there of; and others kept brushing off my hurt as “the baby blues.” It was more.
I wanted to be the perfect new mom, resilient woman, and best wife imaginable. I worked to do everything the “right way” and I didn’t want to admit that I may need to receive some validation and love with time to recuperate to give so much back. No one gave me permission to recover or fall apart, not even myself, so I didn’t ask for help or reach out. I just lied and fell apart in the middle of it all, anyway.
I also learned that becoming a new mommy can be hard, but we don’t always talk about it. No matter how overjoyed we are to welcome our children, our marriages, bodies, spirits, careers, friendships, and households may become strained. We need to give ourselves a break and allow the support we deserve. Additionally, there is no way to prepare for the overwhelming feelings, both glorious and trying, after a baby joins a family. I’ve always taken pride in having a strong spirit, but this was a time in my life it wasn’t. I want you to know this so that you allow yourself to call on others when the time is right, remembering it is perfectly okay.
In preparing for my second baby, I’ll do better. A recent post by Kasey Edwards titled “We Need Better Care for Mothers After Childbirth” highlighted some important issues for me and I now know what to ask for. Be assured, dear friends, that I will embrace any support you are willing to extend. As I cope and recover, I will happily eat any meal or dessert you prepare; allow help with running errands or scrubbing the toilet; not worry about the appearance of my home, hair, or mascara when you come to visit; and remain truthful about my second birth experience and feelings. If “I’m doing great!” I will honestly tell you and likewise, will reach out and ask for help when I’m not. I count you in my greatest blessings and cannot wait to share this next life journey as we add another birthday to the celebration calendar!
*Featured Image from Cover Photo Finder