Confessions of a postpartum mother
As my son Ty turns two months old, I find myself reflecting over how insanely quick he has grown, how much his personality and smile lights my world every day, and how much I truly love being his mother.
As cliché as it all sounds, everything you hear about how much your baby changes you is true.
Even now, as urine dries from my shirt from an earlier diaper change — gross, yes, but why bother changing when it will happen again in two hours — and the feeling of achievement from conquering his unwillingness to nap will be short-lived, it’s all worth it.
However, at 21, I was the furthest thing from being ready for a child. My future was full of uncertainty and chaos, so naturally, discovering my pregnancy followed suit.
On January 22, 2014, while driving to work through a canyon on a rainy, early morning, the truck I was driving slipped away from my control and fishtailed.
I remember trying to relax as I saw the side of the hill come closer to my window, mentally bracing myself for what could happen. I felt the impact of the truck as it hit the hill and I lost consciousness for an unknown amount of time.
When I awoke, the truck was faced the correct way, as if nothing happened. For a bit of time, I didn’t think anything had happened. I sat there, confused and in shock, muscles unable to move, blood trickling down my face as three strangers helped me piece together my name, the date, and what had happened.
It hadn’t occurred to me to look at the condition of the truck. When I did, I felt an immediate gratitude to be alive.
The roof was completely smashed in, allowing a few inches of breathing room until reaching my head. The front windshield no longer existed. The remaining glass was scattered about the floor and in my lap, or pierced into my face and skin.
The shell covering the back of the truck was down the road, the back seats came loose and various truck parts were strewn about on the road and in the shrubbery. I slightly remember joking with the firemen as they sawed the truck apart to remove me from the drivers seat that my parents were going to “kill me” for wrecking the truck.
As I regained awareness in the hospital, I was informed by my nurse that the police had said the truck had rolled twice and flipped back over, as if to keep going in the direction to my work.
A multitude of tests had already taken place, including a full body MRI scan. I was — thankfully — completely unscathed, minus a few bumps and bruises.
But I could tell the nurse had something else to say.
My family and boyfriend had yet to arrive at the hospital when the nurse bluntly said:
“You’re nine to 11 weeks pregnant, and due to the crash and radiation exposure, I suggest you abort the fetus immediately.”
He walked out of the room without a second glance, leaving me to explore the rush of emotions of what I just heard. It wouldn’t be until a week and a half later that we would find out the baby would be safe to carry.
Fast-forward to September 6, 2014, at 41 weeks, I safely and successfully delivered my baby boy, Ty. And, might I brag, in 28 minutes.
Over the past two months, I have learned how to become a selfless, never-ending baby-care machine mom and I love it.
During this process, though, I’ve suffered from what many new mothers experience: Postpartum depression.
It’s extremely hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced it, but it feels as if you are drowning in fury of emotions of self-loathing while continuously questioning your own worth.
You become used to greasy hair, barely any sleep, and a fabulously-stylish wardrobe of sweats and breast milk stained t-shirts.
People seem to forget about your old identity, and always ask about the baby. Which is totally fine — he’s so cute and exciting — but you are no longer you.
I had never imagined being the type to spend all day in bed, zombie-like and staring into space. I had never imagined feeling so sad, faking a smile as yet another person asked if I get enough sleep or not. (Don’t ever ask new parents this question, the answer is obvious.)
I had never imagined feeling so lost, either.
To add to these emotions, I feel guilty for feeling this way. I shouldn’t be lost, I shouldn’t be sad. I’ve been given the greatest gift any person could receive. At times I almost feel unworthy of Ty’s sweet smile and unconditional love. All of these worries and emotions have only furthered my struggle in finding my new, more-than-just-a-mom identity.
It’s times where I feel like this, however, when I reflect to the day of my car accident.
Ty and I were kept perfectly safe and protected. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. If I weren’t meant to be a mother, it would have never happened. Or, Ty wouldn’t have been kept safe and alive during the accident.
Together, Ty and I are survivors. Our future may be cloudy and full of worry right now, but I know that someday it will come together.
I also know that my depression is only temporary. I may be the woman who has days where I stay in bed all day or break into tears while I fold laundry, but with the unwavering support from my loved ones, I will never be the woman to stop fighting to find and embrace my new “mommy” identity.