(kimmie + me, college, 1997ish, when i wore overalls almost everyday)
i didn’t really mean to take a blog break, but i’ve found myself in the center of an internet/blog/email break these past 9 days or so and it’s feeling really good so i’m going with it. i’ll be back later this week!
today i wanted to share another guest post from one of my closest and dearest friends, kimmie. kimmie and i have a funny history. we’ve known one another since we were 12, have always had a ton of mutual friends, but we didn’t actually like one another or become friends until college. once we gave one another a chance, it was love at first giggle. and i’m talking A LOT of giggles. i am my most silliest self when i’m with her yet we also relate and connect over the things that matter the most in life. she’s taught me so much about motherhood and she was a HUGE support to me during those first many critical (and hard) weeks following True’s birth.
this is a post that i think is really important to share and i’m so thankful for kimmie’s bravery in sharing it. as i continue to navigate new mamahood (hard to believe true is almost five months), i’m still struck by her words and the newness of this experience – how it can feel so raw. although my struggle during those first few early weeks was different than hers, the sharing of my story and connecting to other mamas was also key to my healing. thank you, kimmie, for sharing your story. i know it’s going to reach many of you…..it certainly reached me in profound ways.
I prepared meticulously for the birth of my first child. I knew exactly how I wanted the birth to go. I got lucky. Things went just as planned. I had the birth I had dreamed of. My baby girl and I were both healthy and breastfeeding got off to a great start. I was on a birth high for days. Within a week, however, the exhaustion set in. I realized that I felt completely lost and overwhelmed in this new all-encompassing role.
How many of us have found ourselves in this situation? We wait until we are older to have children. We are well established in our careers. We know who we are. Then, in a moment, our world is turned on its head. In the middle of all this joy I found myself feeling a sense of loss.
Then there is the guilt. How could I be sad about having a baby? Wasn’t caring for her the most important thing I would ever do in my life?
Innocent remarks from family members were perceived as critiques of my mothering. My own mother reminded me that she had three children under the age of four (“Wow, I must really stink at this if I am so overwhelmed with just one.”) Throughout my post-partum depression I constantly struggled with wondering whether or not I was really “attached” enough to my daughter. My mother-in-law would stare at her and say, “Did you ever think you could love someone so much?” (“Do I love her enough?”)
Crying was a daily routine. Every night I just had to spill out everything that I thought was going terrible. Finally, I decided that this wasn’t going to work itself out on its own and I got myself into counseling. What a blessing it was to find my therapist.
What helps a mother the most in these situations? For me, breastfeeding, therapy, my wonderful husband, and a group of mothers was the key. I cannot over emphasize the importance of sitting down and talking with other mothers who have children near the age of your baby.
For millennia, women have shared the experience and knowledge necessary in becoming a mother with each other. Young girls have witnessed their own mothers, aunts, and friends, birth, feed, and raise children. We don’t do that here. And we suffer the loss of that community.
We need to hear that others are experiencing the same sort of things we are experiencing. We need to know that we are not alone in our fears. We need to hear others’ solutions. And we need to tell our stories.
My daughter is now four years old and I have a 15 month old boy. Both children are healthy, happy, and completely adorable. “Did I ever think I could love someone so much?” No, I never thought this sort of love was possible.
As my first child began to emerge from my body, I reached down and touched her head for the very first time. I breathed out a sound of pure joy. What a miracle it is that our bodies are designed to create another person. Kelly Rae shared a quote with me before my first was born,
“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”—Elizabeth Stone
I know she now knows this to be true.