This is in response to the post that I blogged about yesterday “Dealing with loneliness on your maternity leave”. I got an email response today from an old friend, who stated that she had been really lonely on her maternity leave and wished that she had good friends to talk to who were going through the same thing. She felt that the new moms who she met through “new mommy” groups did not know her like her real friends. I agree, no one can replace your immediate family and good friends when it comes to people who really know you. However, I think it’s really important to network with other new moms and talk to people instead of holding it in. You need to see and hear that other people are going through the same things as you and are just as frustrated, upset, angry or sleep deprived as you.
I find that many new moms feel either guilty about complaining or they don’t want other people to know that they don’t “have it together”. I found the same thing. I wanted to appear as if I was in control and I knew what I was doing. Especially when my parents or in-laws came over, I wanted to show that cubby was fine and I could handle anything that happened. I was so embarrassed if she threw a tantrum or cried uncontrollably because I thought it made me seem like I don’t know what I’m doing. When in reality, she’s a baby, and babies do cry, and you don’t always know why they are crying. It’s not the end of the world!
I remember becoming so embarrassed at the mall if I was walking around with cubby and she started crying and crying and I couldn’t console her. I thought that everyone was staring at me and talking about me saying “look at that young mom, she can’t even control her daughter”. Of course, probably no one was saying that and it was my sleep deprived paranoia that got the better of me!
Another important thing to remember is about post partum depression. You hear about it all of the time and you think “that will never happen to me”, but you really don’t know what will happen once hormones, stress and sleep deprivation kick in. The most important thing is to keep talking about how you are feeling. Tell your husband or partner, talk to a family member or friend. Keep in mind that you need to be well to care for this new little person who is depending on you for basically everything. If you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone around you, or if you are “too proud” or “too embarrassed” to admit that you are really depressed, talk to your family doctor or a therapist. Postpartum depression is a lot more common than you think.
Also, for people like myself, who have previously struggled with anxiety, the post partum period can make anxiety rear its ugly head again. I was terrified of driving little cubby for the first 2-3 months after she was born. I became so anxious in the car thinking that everything looked like an accident was going to occur. I had to do positive self talk and affirmations when I drove anywhere. I felt like a “basket case” and made my husband come with us everywhere we went. It also didn’t help that I had not been sleeping and could not even keep my eyes open!
Basically, what I’m trying to say is forget your pride and talk to someone. You may have been the most successful organized person at your work or in your business life, but you never know what type of person you will be when life throws you a curve ball and sends you a little unpredictable person.