womenTALK: Blog

Friday, Dec 07th 2012

Nobody Told Me: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Mother

by Jenny W.

I feel lucky to have given birth to a beautiful and vibrant baby boy this September, after an unplanned C-section. And despite that joy, and the incredible depth of my love for him, it's not always fun and games. I'd heard about "baby blues" but didn't really know what it meant. I also feel like I could never have known the difficulties I might have, because people forget over time and recount mostly the good baby stuff.

I wanted to document and share my conflicted feelings with this community in the hope that through sharing, other moms won't have to feel as alone.

Here are some of the things that I experienced in the first six weeks of being home with little Charlie:

Nobody told me that there was such a thing as a "dysfunctional labor," and that my lifelong plan to have a working epidural may not happen, despite four administrations.

Nobody told me that my self-perception of being tough or having a decent pain tolerance would be out the window forever within hours.

Nobody told me that a C-section is a word thrown around casually but is really major surgery with an extremely painful recovery. And that I would gag when touching the scar. And that I wouldn't be physically able to change my own maxi pad or shower alone.

Nobody told me that having a C-section would make me feel like I never truly gave birth to my child.

Nobody told me that my husband would never leave my side for one second during the whole process. And was the source of strength when I couldn't count on my own.

Nobody told me how desperately I would need my parents.

Nobody told me that despite all of the support, I would have PTSD-like symptoms afterward.

Nobody told me that I'd feel regret in the first few weeks. That I lost an old life that I loved, and there was no way out.

Nobody told me that putting a baby to my breast would make me weep in pain; that I would eventually spend up to seven hours a day pumping. And that "breast is best" would torture me so deeply.

Nobody told the old me who loved her career that the new me just wanted to stay home with the kid and give him all of myself. And that the feeling would flip-flop day to day.

Nobody told me that I would feel a desperate connection to other new moms and feel a deep chasm between myself and anyone in my life without kids.

Nobody told me that even the most loving husband who held my hair back during every single vomit-filled morning of pregnancy and shared as much as possible of the pregnancy couldn't understand this new stuff I was going through.

Nobody told me that my body would betray me; that I could kiss good-bye every inch of physical self I'd known for 33 years.

Nobody told me that I would feel desperately guilty every minute I wasn't interacting with or enriching my child.

Nobody told me that I would change from someone who hated a crying kid in public to someone who wants to hug mothers who are dealing with it.

All that said, I've come out on the other side of this experience a stronger, more sure-of-myself person, who feels like the luckiest person in the world to have this incredible child in my life. That is the biggest gift that new moms get!