I didn't just ‘have a baby,’ I became a mother

When my daughter arrived and my world flipped upside down overnight I was totally knocked out of breath. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. And I continue to be on a daily basis.

I didn't just ‘have a baby,’ I became a mother

As a new mom, you hear quite a bit about identity loss. It's probably the thing that many new mamas struggle with the most. The sleep deprivation, feelings of total ineptitude and leaky boobs have a life-span, an expiration date, but the identity loss? Well, as I have discovered 14 months after the birth of my little thief, it has a much longer shelf-life.

While pregnant with our daughter, my husband and I were so confident that she wouldn't change our lives—she would fit in with them. A position that seems quite common amongst today's older, independent and ambitious parents-to-be.


I only half-listened to my mom's concerned warnings that everything was about to change. She nagged that I needed to be prepared, and I dismissively nodded, comforted by the notion that she was "from another generation." I was going to have my career, frequent holidays, crisp white shirts and a beautiful baby. She was just being old-fashioned.

Well, never again will I doubt the almighty wisdom of my mom.

When my daughter arrived and my world flipped upside down overnight I was totally knocked out of breath. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. And I continue to be on a daily basis.

Yes, pregnant women do learn about cluster feeding, mastitis, sleep deprivation and falling into a time vortex, but when you're sitting in the antenatal class with your excitement as big as your bump, these are just words. Small inconveniences that you won't even notice once you have a tiny baby in your arms. For some women, I am sure this is the case. But for others, myself included, these "words" turn into insurmountable challenges they are totally unprepared for.

I struggled with all the normal things—loneliness, exhaustion, raging hormones, self-doubt and being overly critical of myself. I missed my friends. I missed exercising. I missed eating with a knife and fork. I even missed work. A lot.

Overnight I transformed from a successful, smart, fun-loving woman, into an emotionally incontinent wreck, called "mama."

It took me several hours to leave the house for a 20-minute stroll.

I was incapable of having a conversation that didn't start with "My daughter…" or "I only slept for…"

I forgot what it felt like to be alone with my own thoughts.

I plowed through junk food like the hungry caterpillar I stared at on the wall of the nursery.

I felt devoid of interests—I just watched Netflix on the sofa with a large barnacle attached to my boob.

Those first few months passed in a bit of a blur. But as I started to emerge from the fog, and get some time sans-barnacle, I began searching for my former self. (And boy did I spend a lot of time searching.)

I looked for her at the gym. On nights out with my friends. Date nights. I tried to rouse her through my old wardrobe. High heels and running shoes. I spent a lot of time during the first year of my daughter's life trying to find the old me. But nothing worked. And in fact, she's still missing in action.

Now while that may sound a little sad and depressing, in reality, it isn't. I haven't lost my identity, I have gained a new one. One in which much of my old self still exists, just with a few adjustments.

I am more patient.

I am more generous with my time.

I have a perspective.

I see the big picture, which means less stress and negativity.

I can laugh at myself.

I accept myself and my failings.

I find joy at the breakfast table and at 6 am under the covers with my family.

I can run for five minutes and feel as free as a bird.

I am grateful for a quiet coffee, a shower by myself, a glass of wine with a friend. (I no longer expect these simple pleasures, which makes them feel even more indulgent.)

I have made new friends. I have launched a business, which never would have happened had I not given birth.

The thing that actually is sad is that it has taken me 14 months to realize this. Fourteen months of denying the unavoidable and undeniable truth that becoming a mother has changed me. And while not all of that change is immediately positive, being able to accept it, and even welcome it, makes me much happier. And I encourage all new moms to try and find the courage to do the same.

You don't just "have a baby," you become a mother. A new role. A new challenge. A new identity. And despite what society might have you believe, it doesn't happen overnight. It takes time. It's taken me a year. And just like the hungry caterpillar, I have had to learn to use my new wings before realizing their beauty.

You might also like:

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

Keep reading Show less

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

Keep reading Show less