Impossible Expectations

I had thisDSC02494 vision of what motherhood the second time around would look like for me.  I would be this earth mother who gently nursed and rocked her baby girl to sleep while reading books and singing songs to the toddler beside her.  I would exclusively breastfeed for six months, and I would practice baby led weaning for solid food.  My youngest would not have a drop of formula at all.  I would have a smooth transition from a mama of one to a mama of two girls.  My girls would be the best of friends.  I would finally have it all together as a parent.

Cue the entrance of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  Reality did not match up with my expectations.  My newborn was given an ounce of formula right after her birth due to low blood sugar.  Cue the bad mama guilt.  I had gestational diabetes, so of course it was my fault that her blood sugar was low.  I lived in a constant state of high alert.  The only time I relaxed was while I was nursing my sweet baby girl.  Just before my return to work after my maternity leave, my baby ended up in the hospital with a bladder infection and a diagnosis of bladder reflux.  I tried to pretend like I had it all together.  Instead I spent my days and nights fighting back the rising feelings of rage, anxiety, and depression.

My life wasn’t supposed to be measured in three-hour increments at work.  I could barely maintain a facade of competence and efficiency as I counted the minutes until I could escape into the lactation room.  In the privacy of that room, I could let the tears flow.  I could let the waves of panic wash over me, leaving me sweating and nauseous.  I would repeat to myself the same mantras “you are okay”.  The pit of dread, anxiety and panic sat in my stomach for months.

I finally decided that I deserved better, and my family deserved better.  After months, I finally typed in the search terms postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety on Google.  I found Postpartum Progress, and I found this amazing community of mamas who had struggled just like me. I found a therapist who validated my concerns and struggles.  I learned to adjust my expectations to match my current reality.  I do not have it all together, and I never will.  All I can do is my best.  Motherhood challenges me every day emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  It is rewarding and exhausting in equal measure.  Motherhood is not like the ads or the movies.  It brings me to my knees and humbles me, and I am a better person for being a mom to these two girls.


About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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6 Responses to Impossible Expectations

  1. Becky Schroeder says:

    Such an important reminder to all moms that we have to be gentle, patient, and forgiving of ourselves as we attempt to do one of the hardest jobs on earth.

  2. Ruth says:

    I didn’t realize until this post that we share the commonality of only having PPD with our second children. I would love to hear how it was for you, but it was both terrifying and filled with hope for me. I didn’t understand what was happening as I fell into depression, but once it had a name, I knew that I could be the mother I once was. Today, I think I may be a better mother because of postpartum depression — having let go of expectations and striving to do a little bit better than average, celebrating the good moments and brushing off the dirt from my stumbles. So glad to have met mamas with similar stories. Thank you!

    • I didn’t realize that we shared that either. I knew what I was doing, but I felt hopeless. I could not seem to cope or handle things well at all. I really struggled with the morning routine. Even simple tasks and making small decisions seemed to be so difficult. I could not make a decision. I am a better mom now because I struggled. I am able to laugh at myself. I embrace what I am good at. I am comfortable with doing the best that I can. I am not striving for perfection.

  3. John says:

    Oh, please don’t tell me that we’re supposed to “have it together.” I don’t ever want to hear that . . . because the first person who might expect that of me? They’ll be incredibly surprised to hear that my life is just one mild disaster away from crumbling the duct tape & bubble gum holding up a tarnished-as-it-is facade.

    • I felt like I had to “have it together”. I have no idea where I came up with those incredibly high expectations of myself. We just need to do the best that we can with what we have, right? Now I have an image of a wallet stuck together with duct tape and bubble gum.

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