I am almost ashamed to admit how much time I have spent during the first year of my baby’s life trying to get other people to understand where I am coming from. Before I gave birth, I was so confident in my abilities to care for a newborn. I had taken the childbirth classes, infant care classes, read so many books, and had my house fully prepared. I quickly realized there is a major difference between caretaker and being a mom. Even typing that is a bit embarrassing for me because, obviously, right?
Shame and embarrassment are two feelings I would say I have felt often in the past 10 months. Embarrassed the baby is crying when the other new baby in the family is not. Embarrassed when I have to leave the dinner table because the baby is crying. Ashamed at how poorly my baby is sleeping at night. Ashamed at how my hormonal balance while breastfeeding has impacted the intimate aspects of my relationship.
If they just knew how hard I was working or how little sleep I was getting at night, then they would understand.
If they just knew how badly I was trying. If they knew how many different articles I read or the number of Google searches I had completed looking for the answers to these issues.
I recently decided to hire a therapist to try and work through a lot of the emotions that have been building over the past 10 months of being a new mom. She told me, “It seems like you are suffering from exhaustion and perhaps a bit of loneliness.” I don’t know what it is about talking to a complete stranger that made something click. I didn’t spend the session trying to convince her I was really trying to do a good job, to get it right. I was just honest. The entirety of the next week I spent analyzing the session and discovered one thing—I had made the appointment for the wrong reasons.
The weight of motherhood is non-transferable.
Although that doesn’t read as comforting, it has been. Realizing I don’t need to waste time justifying myself or trying to explain why things aren’t going by the book has been a weight off my shoulders. I don’t need anyone else to get me. I need them to support me.
Recently, I have opened up to two seasoned moms separately about my difficulties with breastfeeding and pondering when to wean as well as considering sleep training because I am so exhausted. Both of those moms told me the same thing, “Only you know if you’re ready. Everyone is different, but you will know.” They didn’t offer advice or judgment, just support.
I’m not sure how many times I have to be told to seek out my people in motherhood. I am finding the people are not the issue, but perhaps it’s more personal sabotage that has inflicted my guilt. I will continue working on my inner monologue.