I've Waited My Whole Life For You: A Tale of New Motherhood
“I’ve waited my whole life for you.”
That was the first thing I said to my sweet, 22 inch long, almost 9 lb baby girl when they placed her on my chest (sheesh, she was a toddler haha). I’d just spent 17 hours in labor, 90 minutes pushing her out, and I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to say when I met her.
I had thought about this moment from the time I decided to be a mom – which felt like an eternity ago. I’d always known I needed to be a mom someday in order to feel complete, and here she was! How lucky was I?!
I got pregnant on my 3rd try, she was healthy (despite me being 39+ years old), my pregnancy was really easy and I felt fabulous. But when I looked at her on my chest, the only thing I could think, was “cool”.
My literal dream just came true and here I was taking it in stride like it was just another moment?! No. The truth was, I didn’t have that immediate love for my daughter like mom’s talk about: “Oh they put her on my chest and I was so in love!” I definitely was not. I didn’t know her. I knew her inside my belly, sure. I knew when she woke up and would have her dance parties at 10:30pm and 7am every day, but I had no outside physical bond. I had an idea of what she would look like from her sonograms, but I still didn’t feel I had any connection to her. I expected one.
I think all moms do.
We’re stuck in a world where we see the highlight reels from everyone’s lives and no one shares the down and dirty – so here’s mine. From the moment I met my daughter, Kate, I knew I wasn’t quite right. It didn’t make sense to me that I SHOULD be feeling on top of the world with happiness and instead I was disappointed I didn’t feel instant love. That disappointment led to me immediately feeling anxious that I was already a bad mom and doing something wrong. And that led to me questioning if I could even be a good mom in the first place – which, let’s take a step back – IS ALL I’VE EVER WANTED AND KNEW I’D BE GREAT AT.
This began a horrible spiral for me of emotions I’ve never felt in my life.
Hello, Postpartum depression (or PPD).
While PPD looks a little different for everyone, for me, it was basically me just not feeling how I knew I should. (I know it’s hard to understand, so I’ll try to explain).
Imagine that you’re almost 40 years old and every single morning since you can remember, the sky has been blue. Various shades of blue, but always blue. Then one morning, you wake up and it’s purple. And you’re like well that’s weird, maybe tomorrow it’ll be blue again – and it’s not, it’s still purple. You feel off somehow, every morning when you wake up – still off. Everyone around you thinks the sky is still blue, despite you telling them otherwise.
No, it’s not just because you had a baby or you’re trying to adjust. (Now you’re angry).
It’s not because you’re sleep deprived and nursing 24/7. (Now you’re anxious).
It’s not because you’re healing and trying to make sure YOU eat and drink enough in addition to making sure the baby is getting what it needs. (Now you’re overwhelmed).
You literally feel OFF, but no one can understand. Your sky is freaking purple ya’ll!
So what did I do?! I powered through.
I wasn’t in love with my sweet Kate yet, but I knew that someday it’d click for me, right?! It has to! I hoped and prayed that someday I’d wake up and feel that massive, mushy, overwhelming love that brings moms to their knees at the thought of their baby even scraping a finger.
Yup, it’ll happen. So I went about my life and did everything I knew that my NORMAL self would want to do with her, even if I didn’t want to – I took all the pictures, took all the trips, did all the things. And ya know what?! It took about 3 months for me to fall in love with her, and almost 11 months for my PPD to disappear. But what a long freaking haul!
That cliché line of “hindsight is 20/20” is spot on. If I’d have known then what I know now, I’d have gotten help sooner.
I started seeing a therapist when Kate was a couple months old, and it made me start to feel human again – I finally felt validated too, that I did have an issue. (Not that I wanted one, but with a PPD diagnosis came options and help to resolve it all and move forward). One of those options was medication, which I declined at the time because I thought of it as an “easy fix.” In hindsight, nothing about this was an easy fix.
Waking up every morning for almost 11 months and telling yourself that today MIGHT be the day you feel yourself again, is not easy, nor normal – at least that’s what I thought. Medication would’ve allowed me to get rid of (or at least lessen) the anxiety and pressure I was putting on myself every day to feel my normal again. It would’ve allowed me to decompress a little and still work on WHY I was feeling this way, but I wouldn’t have had to battle my internal thoughts every morning and so many times throughout the day.
I’m glad I had the courage to keep fighting for my normal – whatever I thought that was/is. Some women are not so lucky.
Part of becoming a mom (that no one tells you) is understanding that you’ll never be who you were before you had your child(ren), but taking the best parts of you and being that amazing mom you want to be FOR and WITH your children.
When I started sharing my story with friends and family, an overwhelming number – I’d say over half of them - said “Oh yeah, I felt the same way when I had my baby.”
Why did NO ONE talk about this?! Or give me a heads up at least that this was a possible feeling I might have!? YOU ARE NEVER ALONE. If you’re relating to any of this, please get help – whatever that version looks like for you. Don’t be a martyr, like I was trying to be (ridiculously for no reason lol). You’ll be a better mom and a more impactful mom once you take care of yourself. And that’s a better example to your children than a fake smile, any day.
P.S. Now I’m madly in love with my daughter and completely obsessed.
If you or someone you know is experiencing Postpartum Depression or thinks that you might be, don't hesitate, reach out! We have clinicians who would be willing and able to assist you in your growth needs, if you're in the Pittsburgh area. 412.367.0575 or click here to request an appointment.