Mondays feel better when I know I have Mommy Monday to look forward to! I have enjoyed this series so much and love the little community we are all creating with these blog posts! If you are reading this/these blogs, I hope you’re feeling encouraged, less “alone” and motivated to continue on this motherhood journey, knowing that you have a tribe of wonderful women who are just like you. Struggling, emotional, sad, happy, overwhelmed, tired, depressed, anxious, blessed, thrilled, giddy, etc. Today my friend Emily is talking about her experience with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, marriage, etc. Her story is a beautiful story. She is a hoot!! I love her and her ups and downs have made her a wonderful and strong woman. I challenge you to not cry while reading this. Good luck. 😉
Where to begin?! I have so much I could share. Being a mom has been quite the experience. I have to give a little back story about myself… My first baby was born in 1999. I placed him for adoption. I was unmarried and almost 19. I held him for two days in the hospital and then through teary and tired eyes, I handed him to a social worker. I had known the social worker the last few months of my pregnancy as he helped prepare me mentally to relinquish my rights to my baby and find parents for him. I could write all night about that experience, but I wont. I share that to acknowledge that perhaps that experience changed me. I know it did. Everything we experience shapes and molds us. Looking back, I realize that when I finally did have a baby when I married (about six years later) I was so excited and overjoyed!! Maybe too excited. Because when things got difficult as a new mom and postpartum hit me, I took it even harder.
I had fantasized that being a mother was going to be wonderful! I would be amazing at it and deep down I would somehow make up for the unready teen mom I had once been and the embarrassment I had caused and endured because of my ‘sin” of premarital sex. In reality, being a new mom was so tough. I was fortunate to be able to stay home with my little guy and be there for his every little need and nurse him every two painful hours! There were times though I was jealous that my husband got to leave each day.
My baby also wasn’t an easy going little man (he spit up after every feeding, he latched on and off throughout feedings. It hurt like hell. He grunted all through the night, slept and napped so light, hated his car seat, needed his paci or my nips constantly)… you get the idea! He is 11 now, so it’s kinda funny reflecting back this far, but I still remember weeks into his life feeling SO tired and thinking I would never recover from it all. I also remember calling my mom a few times and asking her how the heck she had FIVE babies. WHY would anyone keep doing this I would think!!??
Today…. I now have 4 kids!!! I wish I could go back to just having one kiddo somedays and just be THAT tired and THAT needed. Hind sight is soooooo 20/20!!!
I should also mention I have struggled with a pretty nasty eating disorder the last 12 years. It began a few years after being married and before becoming a mom. It’s been awful. I do not wish mental illness or disorders on anyone. Trying to be an amazing mother to your precious little babies, toddlers and growing kids is hard enough without these feelings and behaviors lurking in your mind and sucking up your energy.
I will always be so, so grateful for my sweet kids. I was blessed to be able to get pregnant easily, maybe too easily! I had great pregnancies. I felt good and slept like a rock. The only tough part was that I would struggle each time with watching my body grow and the scale moving up and up. I would also get anxiety each time and wonder if I was doing the right thing by having another baby. Could I handle it? Could I give all my children the love and attention they needed?! That made my depression and eating disorder worse during the pregnancies. Luckily, despite my disorder, I had full term, healthy sized babies and easy deliveries.
The postpartum though!???? Are you kidding me? People would come to visit, or see me out running errands and tell me I looked great. I would smile and say I was fine and just tired but on the inside… I felt like hiding in my room for two days.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my newborn babies. I loved them too much… I couldn’t sleep if they weren’t sleeping. I couldn’t be calm if they were not calm (anxiety over here big time!). If they were being held by a friend, or family, or hell… even their own daddy… I was nervous and prepared for them to freak out!
I would get anxious every time I loaded them in the car to run errands. I nursed each of my babies. It was SO hard. They all nursed every two hours during the day. I swear I only produced fat free breast milk. The last two babies I started supplementing more and that helped them go three hours between feedings… that was an improvement!
I would joke and tell people ALL OF THE TIME that I would rather be pregnant for four more months than do the first four months of a newborn’s life. It’s so, so much easier when you are pregnant. The babies are warm, fed, with you, sleep a lot, don’t have acid reflux, don’t have to be diapered every two hours, don’t get diaper rash, don’t cry, don’t need baths, and my favorite… are not required to be strapped into a carseat.
Yeah! These are things I would say to people… even strangers who are just saying “congrats on your cute baby!” I would be such a hot/tired/non-showered/depressed MESS that I would start telling them my dream of placing my baby back inside me. Because all though I was uncomfy, we were both happier that way! Right?! I know, I’m a walking poster child for postpartum depression!! Although, I’m not. I hide it, and well. Too well! The use of caffeine, fake lashes, dry shampoo and lipstick can mask A LOT!
Not to mention, people would focus on how my body looked after having a baby (I never gained more than 20-30lbs). It is nice to be told you aren’t fat, but at the same time it would reinforce the benefit of the eating disorder I struggle with (of course 90% of people didn’t know I struggle with the disorder).
People mean well, but there were many days during the last 11 years of having these four babies that I just wanted to cry about it all. I just wanted to sit and cry and then have a nap. Not a 15 minute nap, mind you. It takes me 30 minutes to just calm my brain down!! I mean like a 2-3 hr nap. The kind of nap I used to be able to take as a teenager, or a college student. Those days are so, so gone though. The past 11 years have been so, so hard.
Hard on me, and hard on my marriage. My husband loves me, I know he does. He has tried to “fix” me to no avail. He works hard and is successful and provides for us all so beautifully, and I’m proud of us that we haven’t given up yet in these last 15 years. In family pictures these last 11 years probably looked perfect (one of my pet peeves about social media. It can be overwhelming to subject yourself to pictures of perfectly groomed mommies and their babies, or friends working out, or people vacationing)!! I’m happy for them, really I am. And maybe my posts look like that some days but most days I wake up tired and depressed, knowing my day will just be filled with potty training and cleaning house and feeding my nine month old and three year old and cleaning it up and then doing it over and over and over while watching Baby Einstein shows that I have had memorized since my first sons baby years in 2005!!!!
My three year old is a handful by the way, he is a tough one. I could write a book about him. In a nut shell, he seems a bit bipolar (no offense to those who are bipolar. I actually have been told I am by a few med professionals). He can be so dang cute, I could eat his cheeks and cuddle him all day! Then other moments I feel like such a failure as a parent and feel like he bossing me and the whole family around all day.
My three year old (who says he is eight) and my nine month old little guy just have me so, so busy. I feel like I can’t sit down and I get jealous of moms that do!! I know these years will pass but as they say “the days are long, but the years are short”. It is true!
When I see my older kids walk from the car into school, or I just have a quiet moment where I watch them and notice how lean and tall they are now as opposed to a few years ago when they were waddling around in their little toddler bodies. I just become overwhelmed with a lot of feelings. I’m sad, but I’m also so proud and honored to be their mom. To have been there every day for them. To have watched so many of their firsts in life!! Then I tend to get overwhelmed with the thoughts of maybe I’m not doing a good enough job with my older two kids. I reminisce (too often… It’s the depression) about when they were my only two kids. Although they were a handful, and those were tough years… to an extent I felt like I had it together. I didn’t feel to thinly spread. I am now though!! I have had to become THAT mom that needs help getting her kids to and from events because I am nursing constantly or have a crazy toddler, or a napping baby. Ok, all of that at the SAME time is the reality!! When I just had my two kids I swore I would never be one of those kind of moms…
“Were the last two of your babies accidents” you may ask?! Nope! Somehow I got brave and crazy enough when I was about 31 to think, “I only have a few more baby making years… am I really done with just two kids!?! ” Another fun fact about me is that I was raised mormon and my husband was as well. So… yada, yada, yada. We now have FOUR!
What I’m leading to is many days I wake up feeling overwhelmed, thinking I made the wrong choice, getting in over my head. Those are tough feelings to deal with every day. It also is quite embarrassing to share them on social media. Although, I think its okay. I know I love all my kids, I know I do the best I can every day! I think as moms we should be able to be more open and honest and know we are not going to be judged.
I sometimes like to be ridiculously open about things so others feel like its ok to share their reality or let down their guard down… Its REFRESHING!!
Now I feel as if I have just been complaining and negative through this and want to end with sharing two simple moments that have occurred just tonight as I try to bust out this writing piece!
I had to get up numerous times but the two that stick out are these…
My super tired three year old (who says he is eight, Brody) wanted me to read to him and lay by him… REALITY: He currently sleeps on OUR MASTER BEDROOM floor in a sleeping bag (I don’t let my kids sleep in our bed) almost every night. He used to sleep like a champ in his crib but the transition to a bed has been awful. Anyway, as I read he interrupts frequently as he smothers me in kisses and tell me probably 3 times “I wuv you mom” and I always tell him… “I love you more, Brody.”
Next up, my baby (nine months) went down to bed at 8:00pm and normally sleeps all night but woke up around 10:00pm tonight. The paci wouldn’t cut it, so we cuddled as walked around the house straightening up and then making a bottle (I know, I know… “breast is best” and I did it with each baby. But this last little guy only got it for seven months. My postpartum was too bad. When my baby was about six months old my mom and sister (who both live out of state) encouraged me to wean him and get on more meds than just prozac. I cried about it and felt guilty and did it a few weeks later.
K, so warm BOTTLE instead of WARM BOOB, but I walked him back to his room and laid with him on the big queen bed next to his crib. I got to kiss his chubby baby hands as I tried to teach him how to hold his bottle. He smells amazing still from his bath, his eyes are getting heavy with each suck. He just melts each time I kiss his chubby arms and cheeks and soaks up the attention (he is number four… he doesn’t get as much as he deserves some days). He pushes the bottle away after awhile and happily takes his paci. My heart could explode… One more huggie-squeeze and kiss on his warm neck as I move him into his crib. He cuddles up to his blankie and is quiet as I walk out. He is an ANGEL baby. Having had difficult babies really helps me appreciate how easy going he has been!! Those kind of moments, those smells, those sounds of humming to him as he drinks are what I hope to remember most.
The anxiety, the busyness, the missed showers, the lack of a social life, the chaotic dinner times (where I feel like a robot forcing food into a toddler with one hand, spoon feeding a baby with the other and mentally evaluating how I need to watch to not eat too much when its my turn to get a bite so that I don’t start a binge), and then of course, the clean up and the bed time routine that feels like three hours some nights!!!!
These four amazing kids have worn me out, pushed my limits, stretched my body, increased my anxiety, and made me appreciate and fantasize about my bed and sleeping more than a human probably should. But they also have taught me how to care, how to put others first, how to anticipate any problem or minut thing that could make a baby/toddler/kid sad or freak out, how to play pretend again, how to talk calmly and not yell (even when they deserve it) because it breaks my heart to see their faces if I do yell, how to MULTI TASK… like no other, how to be grateful for my own parents and their sacrifice in raising a family, and how to love unconditionally. And so many other things and so much more to come, I’m sure.
It’s a challenging role, but I couldn’t IMAGINE my life any other way… what would I do with all of that free time?!? Watch TV? Well, maybe someday I will watch a show that I want again some day. Until then, I will just keep looking for those sweet moments of the day and use those to get me thru it all!
Thanks for reading! I hope in some way you felt validated as a mom, or maybe you compared yourself to me and realized YOU are doing WAY better than I am. LOL Or maybe you just were entertained!!!
This is Emily and her adorable family. Isn’t she gorgeous? Huge THANK YOU to Emily for being so open and raw on this post. She said a lot of things mothers think and feel, but don’t feel comfortable to say it out loud. Emily, you are doing a beautiful job with those babies. Love you!
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