I’m at the two-month postpartum mark and I already feel disillusioned by my attempts at motherhood. I absolutely adore my baby—I can’t stop the constant smooches and my heart still jumps when I get that scrunchy-nosed grin—but then my anxiety begins to creep in and I find myself sad or fearful of the strangest things.
Anxiety looms over my head as I think about tomorrow’s endless diaper changes, the crying, the constant motion— when all I want to do is sit still and enjoy a warm cup of coffee. Anxiety finds a way to sneak in somehow, even in ways that make no sense. I feel consumed by thoughts about how to make the baby happy and how to get through another day at home.
My anxiety is with me in the nursery when I’m organizing baby clothes realizing my perfectly wonderful and thriving baby has outgrown clothes she never even got to wear. How could I not have made sure we wore the 56th onesie from a family friend in size 0-3 during that two-week period that she was between newborn and three months? How could I be so careless, so wasteful, so inconsiderate?
Anxiety, there again, in talking with friends. Should I be putting my infant on a schedule? Should I co-sleep? Am I missing out? Am I sabotaging my baby’s emotional growth by allowing her (for now) to dictate the rhythm of our days?
Why can’t I ever focus on anything other than my baby? Is something wrong with me?
Is she sleeping enough? Is my milk good enough for her? Am I cooking enough meals for my husband? Is my house clean enough? Have I lost the baby weight yet? Am I still desirable to my husband? Do the other moms think I’m incompetent? Why is she crying? Am I not doing something right? Is she hungry? Is she tired? Is she wet? Why is she crying? Why is she crying? What am I doing wrong?
Nothing. I’m doing nothing wrong. I have to continuously tell myself. Everything is okay. Hormones play some ridiculous games on us. Every day we get up, get dressed (usually at some point), change diapers, make (and reheat) coffee, snuggle and have a wonderful, peaceful day.
We get the work done that is absolutely necessary and we leave the rest. We fight back the worries and anxious thoughts with the help we need, whether that be in counseling, keeping abreast of self-care or reaching out to other mothers who have been through it all.
As a first-time mom, I wanted to be an expert at this whole mom thing before leaving the hospital with my tiny bundle of love. But much like our babies, we cannot run before we can walk.
This time is so crucial in embracing the absolute dependency that our babies have on us. Maybe we feel all-consumed by thoughts and anxious worries concerning our babies and motherhood because of an instinctual need to bond our very thoughts to the protection and care of our children—and even ourselves, too.
Someday I won’t feel like I’m in this constant cloud of worry and those attempts at achieving the perfect image of motherhood will be long gone. My baby loves me and someday they will understand how much love is put into every thought and decision I make for them.
I’ve realized anxious thoughts come and go—but they do not make or break my motherhood. One day, the fog will clear.