Home / Life New mama, you just need to relax into it I have to be willing to give up who I am to become who I want to be. By Lindsey Ford April 6, 2017 I often describe becoming a new mother as if someone took my entire being, dropped it to shatter onto the floor, and left me to pick up the pieces. They told me to expect sleepless nights, a changed body, and the immense love I would feel for my daughter. But no one told me I would experience a complete unraveling in the months following her birth. They mentioned loss of identity but no one explained it. The first two months almost destroyed me. They were the hardest thing I’d ever experienced. I fought the changes that new motherhood brought so much that I made it harder on myself. Every part of my life changed the day my baby girl was born. There wasn’t a single thing that stayed the same. Not one. My body had undergone an extreme change and after baby was born, to my surprise, it didn’t return to the way it used to be. Instead, my body was in slow-motion recovery. I couldn’t move at the pace I was used to. I was fatigued. My hormones were spiraling out of control, adjusting to no longer being pregnant and to supporting a new baby. I was up at all hours of the night, deprived of sleep with no semblance of a routine. I had gone from working full time to being at home full time. Every bit of my schedule had changed. I was used to being surrounded by people all day at work. All of the sudden I was alone with a baby. I went from the comfort of being good at my job and feeling like I knew what I was doing, to staying at home with a baby having no clue what to do. Everything about my new role was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Even my relationship with my husband changed. We fought more. Our roles were different. We were no longer just husband and wife. We were now also a mother and father. We had to learn to support each other in different ways. Out of nowhere, I felt like the baby we created was pushing us apart; it didn’t seem fair that he didn’t have to give up as much as I did and I resented him for it. It took time to figure out and at some low points I questioned our relationship could even survive. Our social lives changed. We were exhausted and sleep took precedence over going out. We were also a little more limited in what we could do. I was alone most days while my husband worked. Then I was up all night while he slept. I felt alone. I questioned whether or not I had postpartum depression. I don’t think I did. I just cried a lot. And then, I felt like a failure because I wasn’t coping as well as I thought I should. I was used to being emotionally stable and confident in what I was doing. It was difficult for me to ask for help. A baby depended on me 24/7. My freedom was gone. It was an overwhelming transformation—one that I resisted for months after my daughter was born. Yes—that’s exactly how it all felt at the time, even though now life is far less dark. When I think about the early days of my motherhood experience, I am reminded of something I heard years ago: I have to be willing to give up who I am to become who I want to be. This. This was the turning point. It felt like every aspect of who I used to be had crumbled. But I wanted to be a mother. And even though it was crushingly hard for those first few months, I adored my baby. I wanted this child, and I never wished her away. Despite the hardship, there was nothing I’d rather do. I prayed it would get better. It eventually did. I was promised by others that it would get better around 3 months. Just hang in there, they told me. I remember hearing this around week 6 and thinking I couldn’t do another 6 weeks. Time moved at a snail’s pace during those months. Looking back, I think one of the reasons my transition to motherhood was so difficult was because I was hanging on with desperation to my pre-baby identity. I was resisting the change. I was struggling to accept my new role. But now I know that struggling with your identity, especially after your first baby is born, is normal. It did get better with time, but only once I I learned how to be a different version of myself—a new self I gradually pieced together. The most helpful words of wisdom came from my husband during this time. It was the same advice other mothers had given me about childbirth: Just relax into it. It really resonated with me because the similarities to the actual birthing process were apparent in that moment. Through motherhood, a new me was born. I just needed to relax into it. Just like childbirth, the more I fought it the more it hurt. And just like childbirth, all the suffering and pain was worth it for the glory of becoming this new creation—a mother to my beautiful child. In the end, all of the pain was worth it. I did become a better version of myself, the version I needed and wanted to be in my new role as a mother. What was happening to me was going to happen regardless of how much I resisted. Change was inevitable. So I needed to trust that I would make it out to the other side. The other side? It’s glorious. I discovered my own strength. I found that I am willing to give up who I was to become who I want to be: a mother. Deep breaths, mama. You just need to relax into it.