The new mommy struggle

Scars from my pregnancy and c-section permanently mark me. I’m OK with that now, but that wasn’t always the case. At first, I struggled with things beyond my control as a new mommy.

Long story short, two things are true: I have loved Connor more than life since the moment I learned about him, and I had difficulty adjusting to the new demands his existence created for me.

Now that more than a decade has passed since he was an infant, I’ve realized my situation was more relatable than I allowed myself to believe then.

So, I looked back on how I came to terms with the imperfect mommy in me and adjusted to my post-baby body while I was at it. And here’s what I want to say to others who fell short (or are currently falling short) of expectations — especially their own.

My postpartum struggle

At this point, I’m not ashamed that I cried through parts of my first months of motherhood. But I used to think I sounded selfish, lazy, or weak to say it was hard after being well-conditioned in health class to believe child-rearing was what I was made for.

No matter how fulfilling having Connor was, many things that were supposed to come naturally, including birth, didn’t turn out that way. I was not always the glowing image of a new mother, to say the least.

But the perfectionist in me really wanted to be.

I pictured myself as that happy mommy cooing her baby back to sleep in the middle of the night. Instead, I was an exasperated mommy who tried to do difficult things one-handed with my heavy eyes closed, sometimes through exhausted sobbing.

Despite how much love was born with Connor, having a tiny, almost insatiable human attached to me and depending on my body for life sometimes overwhelmed me.

For starters, I was regularly waking up in the middle of the night for us both to bawl through my desperate lack of sleep, painful feedings, tummy aches, and re-runs of Frasier.

On top of that, I was recovering from an emergency c-section, and I’m an over-thinker. A new emptiness came along because I couldn’t have a natural birth and felt utterly subpar.

As a c-section mom, I bought into the idea that I fell short of what others could do. It’s one of the worst things I have ever believed about myself, and I can’t emphasize that enough.

Furthermore, I was in my twenties and still measured life in milestones. I started to think all of my most memorable moments snuck past because everything I looked forward to as a child had happened.

As I said, I was overthinking. And, yes, I was definitely missing out. But I couldn’t see beyond the fog.

I loved my baby so much, but I didn’t feel like myself anymore. And that eventually drug me into a drawn-out emotional crash.

Barreling through a tunnel toward a crisis

Eventually, I went on autopilot to try and get through. And I thought things were going well enough as long as everyone stayed on board.

So, I kept pushing and hoped to bounce back, mentally and physically, before Connor was 2 or 3. I don’t know what I was thinking, imagining I could go on that long in such a state.

I struggled to admit that becoming a mother had amplified my anxiety because I thought that somehow made me inadequate.

To make everything worse, I had no hope for sleep once I returned to work. And I was totally lost behind the defense and coping mechanisms I had developed to get through life in a state of perpetual sleeplessness and a lost spirit.

So, I often tucked away with Connor and thought it would be our secret if I wasn’t a perfect mommy. But I was isolating, barreling through an emotional tunnel, and heading straight for a meltdown.

Finding the light

Therapy eventually steered me off a course toward an all-out mental health crisis, but the answers to getting my life back together weren’t where I thought they would be.

I went because I thought I could be better if I cleaned up my mental space, but my therapist showed me that I didn’t need to be. She helped me see how hard I was on myself for no reason.

I had idealized motherhood, and reality was harsh. But I hadn’t failed by not meeting expectations and hadn’t let Connor down in my new mommy struggle. We were doing fine. As a matter of fact, he’s always been perfect.

Still, it took stripping away outside ideals and standards to evaluate my life in the present for me to see that I was doing enough. Until then, I was putting myself in some imaginary competition that I couldn’t win.

Thanking my body for my big, healthy baby

It took time and daily reminders to get to where I loved my new body for making Connor. When he was about a year old, I got a tattoo on my hip as a constant visual reminder of the beautiful reason my belly looks the way it does. Growing my favorite human was no small feat.

After over a decade, I still have stretch marks and what I call my Connor pouch. I stopped caring at first, and then I became thankful, even for that.

Now I think what a fantastic thing my body did, expanding for him to be part of this world. And that’s the credit I hope other new mommies are giving themselves right now.

Be gentle with yourself in your new role, take it easy (if possible), and enjoy these fleeting moments. Because they’ll be close to outgrowing you before you know it.

READ MORE: Death by ovarian cyst


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  1. Lola Green

    My heart aches that I wasn’t there to help you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. katierookwriter

      Don’t feel that way. I’m glad you were there when you could be.


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