When Being a New Mom Beats You Up and Wears You Down

newborn baby boy

These little things can turn your world upside down. Credit: Ginny Washburne

We recently had an entire week dedicated to postpartum depression-related content. Jessica, who has shared her journey through pregnancy and who had her baby boy in February, shares some of the struggles she’s been facing during the first months of motherhood. We want other moms to know that the exhaustion, self-doubt and frustration adjusting to the role of motherhood can be overwhelming. If you’ve ever felt like you were the only mom who didn’t have it all together, read on! 

I’m crying…again…and hard. I feel like everything in the world sucks, and that everything is completely out of my control. None of my clothes fit. The baby is screaming, and I don’t know why. He seems to be regressing in the nursing department, where his skills weren’t stellar to begin with. Searing pain is shooting through my nipples. I’m exhausted. The house is a mess. The bills need to be paid. The laundry needs to be done. There are 10 things on our list of errands that need to be run and no time to run them.

I miss my friends. I’m tired of turning down every social invitation, but I know I can’t say yes because of the logistics of nursing and/or pumping. And because the baby is fussy. And because I don’t have anything to wear. And because it seems like there are 10,000 things to get done at home that I never have any time to do. And because I’m too tired.

I also miss not being able to exercise for the same reasons I can’t hang out with my friends. I hate my body right now. I miss the body I worked for before I got pregnant—the body that ran the half marathon. Now my tummy fat just hangs over the c-section scar. I don’t have the time or budget to buy a new flattering wardrobe, and I don’t want to buy the size I am now anyway. I hate wearing my maternity clothes, and I hate the few new things I’ve purchased. Nursing is supposed to help take the weight off, but it’s not. And it seems like everyone else I know got back into their old clothes in no time.

The baby and I are struggling with breastfeeding, and I feel like I’m doing something wrong because it’s supposed to be easy by now. I’m resentful that a full quarter of my life is spent trying to feed and burp him. My one main job as his mother is to feed him (and being little more than a cow has its own psychological consequences), and I feel like I’m failing at it. I don’t know if he’s getting enough. I don’t know if he’s gaining enough weight. I don’t know if he has acid reflux or excessive gas or something else that’s hurting him, but he sounds like he’s in pain. I feel like switching to formula would be sacrificing his well-being for mine, and I feel guilty for even considering it.


Comments

  1. JennMarie says

    This story rang so true to me. When I first brought my son home (he’s now 8 months old) I didn’t feel like anything had changed, like I was babysitting and the rightful owner of this tiny bundle would be back in no time. I’m a single mother with no support from the “father” and I absolutely refeused to ask my parents for help because I wanted them to enjoy being grandparents. (Little did I know thwy actually wanted to do those things.) Though the depression has subsided a little I still find myself curled up in a ball or tears for no apparent reason (but I’be dealt with depression since I was a child) but as time goes by and I have learned to manage my son, job search, and household duties and it makes life easier. I don’t know how single parents find time to date though. Haha!

  2. Kathy says

    I felt many of the same things after having my son (he’s now 18 months). I had trouble with nursing, but felt like a bad mother because he wasn’t gaining weight. I thought if I supplemented with formula I would be a failure. No matter what you have to do with your baby, he will survive and love you just the same. I had a C-section as well and I am still not able to fit into pre-pregnancy clothes. It’s been hard to accept that my body has changed and won’t ever look the same as it did before. Hopefully it helps to know you aren’t the only one going through this. I admire you for sharing!

  3. Kristen says

    Jessica, you are doing a great job! Look at you – you even managed to write about it! My kids are 6 1/2 and 4 now, and it is SO MUCH EASIER. Which isn’t to say that I don’t consider giving them up for adoption now and then…And I am totally one of those moms who looks like I have it all together. Seriously. You would have no idea how I do it. Which really just means that I’m good at hiding how hard it is sometimes. Also, props for having a great husband. Mine tried, but he really was quite clueless (and was working on his Master’s while working full time for the first birth and had just started a new job for the second). I almost hated him for a solid year with each kid. Just because he was getting sleep and didn’t get how underwater I was. But we’re back to floating again and it really is lovely.

  4. Jessica says

    Thanks for the comments. It’s amazing how even a few weeks later, things already seem a bit easier than they did when I wrote this. It’s easy to see how quickly we forget the hardest parts–which is probably one of the reasons experienced moms don’t warn us new moms about how hard it is–they don’t remember! JennMarie, props to you for doing this as a single mom. I often think about how I absolutely don’t know how I’d function without the help from my husband. I get not wanting to seem to your parents like you can’t do it all on your own, but my advice is to take whatever help you can get from whomever you can get it from! Raising a kid is supposed to take a village–I don’t think we’re meant to do it on our own. Kathy, I’m starting to realize that even if I figure out how to get back in shape, it won’t be the same shape. I have to remind myself of the amazing thing my body did–grow another human!–and give myself a break for not fitting into the old clothes. Kristen, thanks for the perspective from a few years down the road! I’m definitely looking forward to the years where I can actually talk with my son and share activities with him!

  5. Ava says

    It’s 2 a.m. where I am, and reading this has made my night/morning. I feel the same way about the weight, the non social life and the random bits of crying. Only I also have to deal with a terrible two almost three year old. Thanks so much for putting it into words. I’m also glad I’m not the only one :)

  6. Kimberly says

    Story of my life!!! But I must add mine was a preterm labor, i have a 3 year old toddler, my husband was away in police training academy while I stayed in a shelter for parents with babies in the NICU with alot of people I didn’t know until he came on the weekends. Now my son is 11months and on a 4 month old level developmentally and im pregnant again (this was totally unplanned) and I just want to break down and cry right now idk how im going to do it

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Then you got through that spinal headache a couple days after surgery that was so debilitating you couldn’t even get out of bed to go see your baby in the NICU, yet you still managed to keep pumping every three hours to build your milk supply up for that little guy. And then came the two long weeks of spending your days in the hospital trying for hours on end to help your baby learn to nurse and pumping in between those unsuccessful feedings so he could be fed nothing but your breast milk through that little tube in his nose. Then you navigated eight more weeks of maternity leave with a baby who went from totally chill in the hospital to a screaming terror the second you brought him home. You figured out all the little things that you never imagined could be so hard, like cleaning up the daily poop explosions that no diaper could hold, giving baths (and cleaning tiny foreign “boy parts”), getting the baby to sleep somewhere other than in your arms, how to get him in and out of the stroller and the car seat and the crib and the pack n’ play. And you did all of this while never getting more than 90 minutes of continuous sleep and while dealing with what, in retrospect, was probably a touch of postpartum depression. [...]

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