Motherhood & Mental Health

A lump formed in my throat and pressure built up, threatening to grow with every gulp of air I took. The tiny human in my arms was oblivious to what I was going through, as I came to the realization that I was 100%, completely in charge of his well-being for life.

No one told me this would happen. I had become familiar with the feeling of heartburn throughout my pregnancy – that fullness that rises in your throat to either give you a sample of your last meal or a searing pain that poised to rip through your chest. This wasn’t that – trust me I know. Over-the-counter antacids had nothing on this feeling.

Whenever the topic popped up in the three pregnancy apps I had downloaded to track the past nine months, I skipped over it, thinking it wasn’t important.

But equally as important as preparing your home and your family for a new baby, is preparing your mind for the weight of responsibility that comes along with bringing a tiny, innocent baby into your life.

I still remember the moment I found out I would become a mother. After two weeks pulling long hours at work and pushing through the exhaustion, I told the hubby I felt off. Double-checking my period-tracking app confirmed what I suspected. I was late.

I bought a test and got one of those prismic, hard plastic cups you find in your oatmeal container, to collect my sample. Sitting together in our living room, we decided to record the experience… just in case. I dunked the stick and proceeded to finish reading the directions. The digital test delivered the answer before I even completed the pamphlet.

Joy, excitement, apprehension, love, anticipation. Over the following nine months, we saw the multiplication of each of those emotions, until delivery day when we met the little man who would change our lives forever.

The first three weeks were a joyful blur, as I became a sleep-deprived, protective, milk-making machine on a schedule that would reset every three hours.

Then, it was time for my in-laws who had been staying with us, to return to Las Vegas. After they left for the airport, it was just my baby boy and I; hubby was at work, my parents were at work, close friends were also at work, leaving me all alone for the first real stretch.

The number of ‘what if’ questions that bombarded my mind was ridiculous. Anxiety over baby’s wellbeing, over our safety driving around town… everything big and small, seemed to cloud my mind.

I don’t have some amazing story about how I overcame post-party’s anxiety, but I don’t.

Sometimes those thoughts still creep in, but I fight back.

Self-care has become a priority where I had taken it for granted before. If it means waking up half an hour earlier than my son just to get some me-time, I do it. It means calling for a relative’s help if I feel myself getting burned out. It means handing over the reigns to my husband when he gets home from work so I can get 20 minutes to myself, and they can get some guy time.

It means taking time for prayer and reflection and realizing that while there are a lot of things out of my control, I can work with those that are still within my control.

Motherhood is not a perfect walk in the park. It’s about learning, adapting and understanding the responsibility of caring for the wellbeing of another human being.

But we need to talk about the things that make us mothers, the range of emotions we go through during and after pregnancy. All too often, once we pop our babies out, mothers are left to fend and care for ourselves, while healing from the inside out.

It’s a lot to cope with, but I’m blessed to be celebrating my second Mother’s Day with my precious baby boy. I wouldn’t trade this emotional roller coaster for anything in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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