I never really dreamed of having a family like some women do, I think I just always assumed it would happen because it was suppose to and of course I would love my children. But there were no Pinterest boards dedicated to nursery decor and I didn’t have any names picked out by the time I got to college (To be honest, I didn’t have names picked out until the nurse told me that was the last thing they needed to complete before discharging me after having my son. But I digress).
What scared me most about having children was how much my life would change. I loved work. I loved to work. I felt it gave me a purpose and an identity after I had been a soccer play all my life. I poured everything into my career and loved every minute. I enjoyed staying late at the office. I enjoyed opening up my laptop after dinner and getting back to my emails. I enjoyed it all. And if I had kids, how would I still do that? How would I still be successful?
When visibly pregnant with our first, who we named Landon about 12 minutes before leaving the hospital, my co-workers would ask me how much maternity leave I was taking. “Umm, 6 weeks? I’m sure I’ll be itching to get back earlier.” Well ain’t that a joke.
At my four week post-partum checkup (four weeks because my doctor was concerned of depression) I had already lost the 49 lbs I had gained during pregnancy. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping and I was not OK. I cried all the time. And as each day passed I felt more and more like a failure. If I ever put my mind to something I always excelled. Why was this any different? No part of me was enjoying the newborn phase and as the ticker on my time as a mom when up, the count on my maternity leave went down.
I dropped Landon off at daycare (crying, shocker) after 12 weeks at home and made my way to work. It also happened to be my first day at work with people I had never met. So that was fun. We exchanged pleasantries and I remember going into the bathroom and crying. I was not OK. Wasn’t I suppose to love this? I’m a mom. And my baby is healthy (and super cute) and some women would love to be in my position– to carry a healthy baby full term. And now I am back at work which I love. Why am I not OK?
We had our beautiful daughter 14 months after welcoming Landon and I was sure to be in a better position this time around. Except when I got back to work this time I was chasing a quota I was behind on and just couldn’t do anything right.
I’m here to tell you it’s OK. It’s OK to not be OK. Your life has been turned upside down. That does not mean you don’t love your new child and that does not mean you can’t mourn your “old life”. I am not too bashful to admit my love for naps (my own of course) and my love for my children are not synonymous with each other.
Maternity leave, what a Chief Executive at a prior job called a “nice vacation”, is rough. And for a Type A personality as myself I couldn’t just let the dishes sit as my friends suggested. I couldn’t skip the shower. I couldn’t resort to ramen noodles every night for dinner while my husband was working long days (ya know, cause bills had to be paid and my “vacation” was partially unpaid ). If you are currently in this season of life I will share this : it really does get easier. I promise. But while you’re in the thick of it find other moms with children the same age as yours (and FYI there is a big difference between having a 4 week old and a 14 week old, so choose those moms wisely) so you can relate to each other and realize you aren’t crazy. Your husband isn’t the only husband who thinks turning all the lights on during middle of night feedings is OK. Crying over not finding a parking spot is completely normal. And dry shampoo does in fact work wonders.
And if you aren’t in this season but know someone who is, give them grace. Please. I remember when Kennedy was 12 weeks old I had one week left of my maternity leave so I was feverishly trying to finish errands. I had an eye doctor appointment that I strategically scheduled when she normally naps. Except of course she wasn’t. She was hysterically crying in the carseat as I walked into the office and the Office Manager could see I was not far behind her. I always had (and have) extreme anxiety when my kids are crying, I don’t want to bother others so I was panicking that she was bothering the very quiet office (which she probably was lol).
The Office Manager, despite the 24 hour cancellation policy, told me not to worry. If I wanted to reschedule she would happily do so, whatever was easier for me. I started balling and thanked her, taking my screaming child back home with me.
It’s OK to not be OK. Remember that. Next time you feel otherwise remember you are not alone. This is difficult and wonderful and sad and exciting all at the same time. And that is OK.