I remember the first few weeks after bringing home Gwen. I was exhausted, joyous, insecure, panic-filled, grateful and everything in between. It was intense. And my life and self had never been so fully in touch with what it was to be human — or what it was to worry or love so deeply and so desperately. It was a whole new level of emotion, on all sides of the spectrum.
Fueled by hormones, life change and sleepless nights, I almost felt like a different person. At least for the first six months or so. And had it not been for the understanding and acceptance of my mom friends (including those in online discussion boards), I do not know how I would have gotten through it. Having my feelings and experiences heard and validated by other moms helped me to feel understood — and inspired me that, like so many women before me, I too could do this whole mother thing.
Sometimes I sit back and think about all the first-time moms though who don’t have that support system. Who maybe aren’t met with that kindness and open understanding. Who aren’t greeted by other moms who believe our mission that we’re all just doing our best and that there’s no one “right” way to raise a family. How do they do it? How do they get through sleepless night after sleepless night?
There’s a new research project that is shining a light on a lot of the struggles and feelings and issues facing new moms today. And it’s raw and it’s powerful.
Melody Howse, who is doing her Master work in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Freie Universitäte Berlin, created the Up All Night Phenomenon as an online place where people, mothers, fathers, friends and expectant parents can get a peek into the real experiences new parents face in the first years of having a child. Our very own Tish is a part of it and is how we learned about it, and it’s definitely worth checking out and passing on to the other parents in your life.
From reality with a baby versus expectations to what motherhood is really like on your soul, this isn’t just a look into what stuff people don’t tell you about having a baby, it’s the voices of women as they go through it.
The cliche is true that nothing can prepare you for motherhood, but if you’re a new mom and feel somehow removed from society, misunderstood or are just struggling and can’t seem to shake the feeling that you’re missing the intuitive-motherhood gene, spend some time listening to the stories on the Up All Night Phenomenon.
Seriously. We’re all in this together. —Jenn