I had this 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.