I don’t know about you but in my first few months postpartum I did not feel like myself, in fact, I felt downright crazy!
As a cognitive therapist, I help others avoid anxious, negative, and judgmental thoughts. I pride myself on being a good example of this for my clients. However, as a new mother, I felt like I’d completely regressed. There was so much to worry about! There was so much that was different!
Just to back up a bit as you are still getting to know me, let me fill you in a bit from my perspective (that being said my husband, family and friends may have a different take haha).
I’m not the typical new mom terrified of anything and sanitizing everything. I have lots of baby experience, I also have lots of hospital and home care experience with very sick people of all ages, even babies. I know what you are thinking, no one wants to admit they are a nervous new mother (don’t worry I will get to that, I’m not ashamed), but I really am on the more relaxed end of the spectrum.
This was recently affirmed for me when I took my then almost 9-month-old son to a Mommy and Me yoga class in Brea. Two women, who were there with their youngest asked me how many kids I had at home? I was confused and said, “none, Noah is my only child.” They looked shocked and said, “OMG you are so relaxed, I was crazy with my first not letting him put anything in his mouth.” What I wanted to say was but they crawl on their hands and put their hands in their mouth? But what I actually said to make light of the situation was “oh yeah I figure he will either be the healthiest kid around or get the plague.” This was met by silence (I often make bad jokes in uncomfortable situations…get used to it). But when I left there I started feeling insecure… “am I doing something wrong…do people think I’m weird…is my baby going to get the plague.?” These thoughts reminded me of how often I had these horrible thoughts in the first few months of his life and led me to this blog post.
Ok back to it…you are not crazy, I am not crazy!
No matter how experienced you are, no matter how relaxed you are motherhood is hard and there is no manual (if you find one send it my way). Not to mention the horror your body is going through to recover from the whole ordeal (I did not love pregnancy but I will leave that for another post).
Oh and the hormones, don’t forget the crazy hormones! Of course, when your body and your world are in chaos your thoughts and emotions will be too.
I was worried about all the completely absurd scenarios that were going through my head (my husband would fall asleep on the road and kill us all, the baby would hit his head and never wake up, he would get some silent disease that my sleep-deprived self wouldn’t notice in time, my body would never stop bleeding, I wouldn’t be able to balance motherhood and work, etc.) But the truth is it got better. How? Well, I was judging myself for everything, then I was judging myself for judging. Then I said enough is enough! Every time I had a crazy, absurd, negative, or judgmental thought I would say no! (sometimes out loud) and then tell myself everything that was going well. My baby was healthy, handsome, and happy, which was my mantra when pregnant (I didn’t really need him to be handsome just not come out with three hands or two noses was all). I was doing the best I could and that was pretty damn good. I had a support system that was wonderful. I could do this!
The more I told myself these things the quieter my head got. I started to even out. I started to regain control of my body and my thoughts and therefore my emotions. I was feeling like me again…just a little bit different to me. I like the new me. The new me has more anxious thoughts but that doesn’t mean I’m less healthy it just means I have more I care about what I want to protect. And I still have the skills to not let these thoughts control me. They are fleeting.
So when you are feeling crazy just remember you aren’t crazy…you are a mom, and probably a darn good one.