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Sarah on her first four months of motherhood–not easy, but worth it

baby sleeping - essay on motherhood during covid

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

This is a letter I wrote to motherhood about my experience so far. My daughter is now four-months old and it certainly hasn’t been easy. But it’s worth it. 

Dear Motherhood,

Before I became a mother, you told me a lot of things about how it would be. I found out I was pregnant and because of all the things you said, I thought I knew what I was about to experience. I was finally doing what I had waited my whole life to do.

You told me I’d be tired for the first three months of pregnancy, and then I’d start feeling more energy and be able to prepare for the baby to arrive. But you didn’t say I’d feel an exhaustion that consumed me physically, mentally and emotionally. And it lasted longer than the first three months.

You told me pregnancy would make me glow and feel so beautiful. But my glow didn’t come, and my body didn’t feel like my own as it was taken over by one health issue after another.

Related: The new mama’s guide to pregnancy symptoms

You told me I might get stretch marks, but I’d be proud of them because they were my “tiger stripes” that showed the hard work I put in to grow this little human. But you didn’t tell me they’d cover more than just my belly, or that they’d make me uncomfortable in my own skin.

You told me labor and delivery would be hard, but it would end with the amazing moment when I brought my child into the world. But you didn’t tell me how hard and scary it is to be naked on a table while doctors and nurses surround you to figure out why your baby won’t deliver. And you didn’t tell me about the shame and heartbreak that could come when I failed to bring her out on my own, and the doctors had to cut her out of me to keep her safe.

You told me breastfeeding was a beautiful bonding experience that made you feel so close to the baby right from the start. But you didn’t tell me how much it hurts when it doesn’t go well and the nurse has to tell you to try formula.

Related: Dear formula mom—I see you

You told me I’d have “baby blues” for the first two weeks. But you didn’t tell me they would make me feel like nothing would ever be okay again, and you didn’t tell me they would make me feel like I was failing my baby at every turn.

You told me I’d be worried about the baby sleeping at night, and that I’d probably be stressed if she had sudden changes in the way she behaves. But you didn’t tell me that I’d end up looking up every single little thing, or that I’d lay awake to check that baby was breathing every five minutes, or that a fictional story about a baby in a TV show would send me spiraling into an anxiety attack that left me breathless while it felt like the world around me was collapsing.

You told me I’d be afraid of the baby getting the sniffles or a fever. But no one could have told me I’d be terrified of my baby catching the virus that sent the world into a global pandemic.

Related: Everything parents need to know about the BA.5 subvariant

You told me a lot of things that weren’t true. You under-exaggerated so much, and I think that’s where the hurt and feelings of failure came from. You have to be honest with mothers about what they will go through so that they know everything they are feeling is normal.

But you were right about a lot of things too.

You told me how fun it would be to tell everyone about the bundle of joy on the way. I don’t know if anything has ever been more fun.

You told me feeling the baby move inside me would be so amazing, and that there is nothing like it. That was my favorite part of pregnancy.

You told me my love for my husband would grow exponentially with every passing day in pregnancy, and even more so watching him with the baby. I have never loved him more than I do now, and I know I’ll love him more tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Related: Yes, I’m a mother—but my marriage is still a priority

You told me I’d never know a deeper love and that is true.

You told me my heart would be so incredibly full and you were right.

You told me her smile would be the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. And you told me her laugh would be the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard. You were right.

You told me looking at this perfect little girl we created would make the pain, suffering, endless doctor’s appointments, heartbreaks, sleeplessness, anxiety, and fear worth it. You couldn’t be more right.

Related: My child—you are worth it all

Motherhood, you are the hardest and best job I’ve ever had. It’s a job I could have never been qualified for, but that I get to keep working on every single day for the rest of my life. I didn’t know my favorite boss would be this tiny person who yells in my face, poops in my hand, and makes me feel gross every single day. But she is.

This hasn’t gone the way I expected it to. But she makes every second worth it. So thank you, motherhood, for letting me join the force.

Love, Sarah.

Originally posted on my blog tomakeajoyfulnoise.wordpress.com