Tears are falling into my coffee cup.

I feel like I’m drowning.

Drowning in deep waters. Deep waters that I envisioned as sun-soaked, happy days. Deep waters that I thought I’d naturally be able to wade in. Instead, these deep waters are starting to suffocate me.

It pains me to feel this way. It pains me to write these words.

But, today is one of those deep in the trenches, tough to breathe kind of motherhood days.

My baby won’t stop crying. My toddler won’t stop hitting me. I can’t find a minute to breathe. I’m struggling to function on my son’s highchair leftovers as I desperately try to find time to sit next to my breast pump amongst the madness.

I look in the mirror and I’m disgusted at the reflection. My pajama top is inside out and backward. I’m covered in dried spit-up and breastmilk. The bags under my eyes have made a permanent residence. I don’t even recognize the girl looking back.

I walk outside to get the mail for a minute of calm. I step into the garage for a “break” and to chug my coffee in “peace” but hear the screaming from the other side of the wall.

I pace in the kitchen wondering what I’m doing wrong. Wondering why some of these days are so difficult.

My chronic illness is lurking. I feel it breathing down my neck. The fatigue. The pain in my muscles and bones. The gnawing in my abdomen. It’s there. I’m exhausted to my core and my babies even slept through the night.

I text my husband while he’s at work as a cry for help, but I know there’s nothing he can do in this moment. At the least, when he walks in the door and sees the toys strewn across the floor and the dishes piled up, he’ll know why.

As I hear my baby cry, it makes me cry. Maybe she’s sensing my frustration, lack of patience and pain.

I want to be all the things. I desperately want to be so good at this role.

I always felt I was born to be a mom. Now I’m second guessing my abilities.

The guilt of these thoughts tears me apart. I know I need to find gratitude in my healthy babies and our often mundane and quiet life.

But, today that gratitude is a struggle.

Today there are tears falling into my coffee cup.

But, tomorrow is a new day.

Tomorrow I get to try again. Tomorrow I can be all the things I wasn’t today. Tomorrow I hope and pray when I’m holding my coffee that I feel the warmth of my unconditional love for my children, that their joy and smiles reignite my spirit and remind me the tough moments are fleeting and that I’ll be back to floating above the surface in no time.

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Seven Momtras For the Stay-at-Home Mom

To Those Who Saved Me From Drowning in Motherhood, Thank You

To the Mom in the Trenches: Your Time is Coming

I Thought I’d Be a Better Mom Than This

Natalie Hayden

Natalie (Sparacio) Hayden, 33, is a former TV news anchor living in St. Louis. Her mission in life is to be an advocate for those battling inflammatory bowel disease and to show that a chronic illness doesn’t have to dull your sparkle. Natalie was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in July 2005. After several hospitalizations, countless medications and flare ups she underwent her first surgery in August 2015. Recently married, Natalie will share insight on how her disease process impacts life as she and her husband look to the future and plan for their first child, a baby boy, due this spring.