I often hear mamas talk about how they miss time to themselves, sleep, their pre-baby body, sleep, going out with friends, sleep…and I totally understand. I do. But those are not the things I miss from my life before motherhood. Nope. What I miss is confidence.
You go through all this preparation to have a baby or bring home a baby. They give you your precious child with one hand and take your confidence with the other. And nobody tells you about this slight of hand. Until you are alone with the baby. Suddenly you realize, you don’t know anything.
In your former life, you might have been very accomplished in your career, even had lots of childcare experience that gives you practical wisdom, but it’s different now. This is YOUR child. She is your responsibility. You are the one who needs to make sure she is fed, clothed, taught. And the crushing truth is, you don’t even know how to tighten the straps on the carseat, how are you going to do the rest?
Slowly, bit by bit, you put together some knowledge. You get a little more comfortable with your new role. You find the people you can turn to for advice that you find helpful and figure out who’s advice to tune out. Life feels good. For a couple days. Then the bottom falls out. Baby changes. And this stage, has all new questions and challenges.
So goes the cycle.
I will admit, there is a little more confidence with each child you have. You find your family rhythm and groove a little more easily, but searching and learning is still involved. This new baby is not the same as it’s siblings. No matter how hard you try to get them in the mold and patterns, there are differences. Some big, some small.
But that is not the only confidence I miss. With the birth of Patrice, I lost a confidence I held even more dearly, my emotional confidence.
This time, along with Patrice, I was handed my journey through postpartum depression and anxiety. Adapting to life with a third baby was nice in that I knew what to expect in many of the baby care areas. I knew my parenting style, what to expect sleep and nursing wise. What I didn’t know how to navigate were the postpartum emotions.
Emotionally I was all over the map. I was filled with awe and joy over this new baby. I loved the fun ages Caitlyn and Sue were in. But I was also filled with tears and anxiety. My emotions and energy ran too high. I could not get control of them.
Over the last year, I have been through many hills and valleys. I am definitely seeing an overall improvement in my moods and emotions. And then a bad day will hit. It feels like the bottom is dropping out. Or something will make me nervous, and the panic that ensues feels overwhelming. And I feel like I am back where I was a year ago, lost in my emotions and reactions.
Yesterday was one of those days. Caitlyn is starting school next week. I have a lot of fears and feelings about that, none of them positive. I cried all day yesterday. I was a ball of nerves all day. It was difficult to focus at work, my words came too fast and my thoughts were going faster.
I am worried about getting Caitlyn to school and the other two to daycare, and myself to work. I am worried about not knowing where to drop Caitlyn off. I don’t want her away from me all day. I am afraid I won’t pack her the right snacks or lunch. What if I pack peanut butter and there is a kid in her class deathly allergic? What if she doesn’t have enough time at lunch to eat what she wants and needs?
You get the idea.
And as my thoughts spun and the tears fell, I became more and more concerned that I hadn’t made progress against the postpartum depression and anxiety, that I wasn’t getting better.
Thankfully I had a mental health check appointment with my midwife today. I dumped it all out there. How I missed trusting my emotions, how I reacted to a mama in my support network going into the hospital, reading about a mama struggling with postpartum depression killing her baby, all my fears about Caitlyn going to school.
It felt good to get it all out there. It felt even better to hear her say she felt the same way about sending her kids to school, how she doesn’t look forward to them being away from her,
Oh the relief I felt to hear her say she understood my feelings, how they seemed appropriate to her. It gave me hope. Hope that the postpartum depression and anxiety is losing it’s grip on me. That my emotional reactions are in line.
It gave me hope that I will one day have my emotional confidence back. That is a good thing. Because that is what I miss most.