Denying My Postpartum Depression During My First Year of Motherhood
My first year of motherhood...I can't say that I had a lot of expectations because I really didn't. I always had a general vision of what motherhood might be like for me someday, but since our blessing was a bit of a surprise, I didn't have quite as much time to plan as some.
Literally, every day, people come up to me at the store, at the park, and tell me to enjoy my child while he's little, while it lasts. Can I say it's been flying by? Not exactly. When I reflect back, I remember having a bit of a hard time. I realized after about 6-9 months of life with my little one that I hadn't had a sleep cycle over 3 hours that I could remember. The exhaustion was so real and I struggled with expressing my needs and wants to my husband. I never wanted to admit that I was struggling. I thought it meant that I was ungrateful to be a mom or to be a stay at home mom (something I had always hoped to be able to do). I was afraid to ask for help or to say that I had a "long day" because I knew he could never understand which part of snuggling with my new baby all day, every day, was tiring or stressful.
As the months went on, we created a bit of a routine. As much as I needed my space (oh did I), I was having trouble leaving my little guy with someone else. I had finally gotten him on a feeding and napping schedule, and I couldn't believe I might pay someone to be at my home during the overlap of a nap. I wanted to be there. I wanted space and I wanted a break. I didn't want to miss a thing. I didn't want someone else to be a part of those routines or those accomplishments. And I definitely couldn't bear the feelings I imagined my baby was feeling when he looked for me and I wasn't there. Finally, I took a few hours for myself here and there to go to the dentist or to get my hair cut. The first time, I literally felt like I left an appendage inside my apartment as I drove down the street. Eek.
It's amazing how sometimes babies give us just what we need when we seem to be losing our steam. When I was pregnant, I remember not feeling him move until the end of the "time frame" (usually 16-25 weeks along) that doctors would often estimate you can feel a baby move. When my hormones and sleepless nights really started to get the best of me in his 2nd or 3rd month and I just begged him for some type of reward for being his mommy, he smiled.
And around nine months old, when I absolutely could not handle getting only 2-3 hours of sleep at a time any longer, he finally made some shifts to sleep longer, and we started to create some boundaries to move him out of our bedroom and commit to sleep training.
I can confidently say I look back fondly on all of the new stages we experienced as a new family. Newborn love is very special and unique but being able to communicate with my one-year-old now is pretty special too.
I'm excited about what's next. I'm excited to walk with him on the beach without him putting everything in his mouth. I'm excited for me to be able to explain things to him so that he'll understand better (and maybe listen). I'm excited to hear him say I love you, Mama. So yeah, the first year? Harder than I expected, and it didn't go by super fast. But I wouldn't change a thing. (Ok, maybe I would have done sleep training earlier!)