The moment I found out I was pregnant I was shocked, to say the least. We weren’t preventing pregnancy, but I didn’t expect it to happen so fast. I took 11 (yes, 11) pregnancy tests before it truly sank in that I was pregnant. Eventually the shock grew into joy and my then boyfriend (now husband) and I began preparing to become parents.
I loved being pregnant. Absolutely loved every single moment of it.
I loved watching my belly grow and feeling the baby move inside me. I loved that my breasts got bigger, my skin glowed, my fingernails were long and thick, and my hair looked amazing. I finally felt like a woman, I finally felt beautiful. But among these great feelings of self-confidence, the fear of being a mother lingered in the back of my mind.
We were completely prepared. We took the baby classes, I read the baby books, the nursery was done, the car seat was safely installed in the car but I was terrified. I knew everything was going to change and I had no idea what I was doing. And on top of all that, I didn’t want my pregnancy to end because I loved it so much. Weird, right? Who wants to stay pregnant? I did. Because of a preexisting bleeding disorder, I had to be induced prior to my due date. Which means I didn’t get to finish out my pregnancy and wait for labor to happen naturally like I wanted. I even asked my doctor to push the induction date back twice.
When it came to the morning of my induction, I cried as we pulled away from the house. I was not ready for my pregnancy to be over.
They started the induction process and after 36 hours of labor, our son was born. We hadn’t found out the sex of the baby but I always knew he was a boy. You would think the hard part was over and the exciting part was beginning, but not for me.
The second he came out, everything changed. I feared everything that was coming at me. I was afraid of my own body from my chest to my knees. Because of this, I stayed in that gross hospital gown for two days until it was time to go home. When the doctors were releasing us, I even asked if we could stay an extra day because I was scared to do everything on my own.
After getting our baby home safe and sound, we prepared for all the excited visitors wanting to come meet him. I put on a smiling face and posted cute pictures on social media like I was “supposed to,” but inside I was drowning.
I literally felt like I was standing in the middle of a crowded room screaming in fear as the rest of the world continued to function around me.
My plan always was to breastfeed. It took 4 days for my milk to come in and when it finally did, I panicked. Instead of putting the baby to my breast or pumping my milk, I froze. I let my boobs get engorged and rock hard, and my milk eventually dried up. It was so incredibly painful. We formula fed my son from the beginning, he’s never had a single drop of breast milk and I know it’s my fault. The guilt I carry for this is overwhelming.
So many people told me that motherhood would be hard, but so worth it. For me, it was hard, but not worth it. I questioned myself daily whether we made the right decision having a child. I did not feel that instant bond that other mothers feel when their child is born. I did not have a connection with him. I didn’t feel guilty or miss him when I was away from him. I couldn’t even say I loved him until he was 2 months old. What kind of a mother feels this way towards their child? A child that was planned? I always wanted to be a mom and I was not expecting these feelings. I scoured the internet to find anything that could justify how I felt, but I found nothing. I never felt any thoughts of suicide or thoughts of wanting to harm my baby, but I felt like I had cheated him out of the loving mother he deserved. I made sure he was fed and cared for because he didn’t ask to be born, and he deserved better.
Between the overwhelming fear and general caring of a newborn, I was mentally exhausted. There were times when my husband was holding our son in one arm while rubbing my back and comforting me with his other. This went way further than the typical baby blues, and I was not OK. One afternoon I found myself sobbing hysterically on the kitchen floor. I managed to call my mom since my husband was at work, and she finally convinced me I needed help. At my 6-week checkup, I was prescribed antidepressants and started seeing a counselor. Eventually, things started looking up. I finally started connecting with my son and began enjoying motherhood.
My son is now almost two, happy and healthy. I still miss being pregnant, I still beat myself up over not breastfeeding, and I still struggle with motherhood. Postpartum depression is scary, and it’s not talked about enough. Most of the people in my life had no idea I was struggling so much because I put on a smile like all new moms are “supposed” to do. Thankfully my husband and my mom knew something wasn’t right and I was able to get the help I needed. I will never forget the look on an acquaintance’s face when she asked me if I just absolutely loved being a mom and I replied with “no, not really.” But I do love my son. He is my everything now and I can’t imagine my life without him.
Being a mom is hard, and it’s OK to not love every single second of it. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to ask for help. And it’s OK to feel whatever you are feeling.
If you are struggling and don’t know where to turn here are some links that may be helpful from the Mayo Clinic.