Me After You: A Look Back at the First Year of Motherhood
Making it to your child's first birthday is cause for celebration. You've done it. Raised a one-year-old! You've done an amazing job to make it to this milestone. But it's also a time to step back and pause. Time to look within and see how you're doing at this point, too.
There are certainly big emotions of pride and happiness for your child, but there also may be some other emotions that you've been feeling this past year that you haven't had time to process. And that's okay!
This year has been all about baby
When you think about the first year of motherhood what comes to mind?
Squishy cheeks and little toes? Logistical how-tos like figuring out diapering, somehow finding some sleep, getting out of the house, transitions and please for the love of anything SLEEP!
Every visitor wants to see the baby and your days (and camera roll and thoughts) are so full of your little one you wonder what you used to do with all your time pre-baby.
Keeping this little human alive has taken over your life. While pre-baby you never understood how deeply you can love – for some it can still be a really, really hard transition.
You may have felt lost
One of the hardest parts of the first year is that moment you look in the mirror and realize you that you don’t completely recognize that tired looking person staring back at you.
Your body has changed.
Your priorities have changed.
Your thoughts, dreams, and world have changed.
And with those changes – it might feel like pre-baby 'you' has disappeared without even the smallest whisper of goodbye which may leave you feeling sad, resentful, and maybe even a little guilty.
Change takes time
The first thing to know is that it's completely normal to feel this way. New babies are demanding, you probably aren’t sleeping well, and you are still changing, growing, and learning how to take on this new role of mother.
Here are some ways to help work through these changes:
- Remember to take breaks – This includes doing nothing. Sometimes your mind needs time to relax and not be productive. It's okay to be still, think, and not be folding laundry or doing the dishes when you have a free moment.
- Reflect on how have you changed for the positive – Have you become a better listener, more selfless, more empathetic or do you appreciate your body more than you used to? Have you become more patient, less judgmental, or more capable of loving so deeply?
- Don’t compare yourself to others – just like in high school, no one has it together (even if they look perfect from the outside). Limit the time you spend on social media if you've found yourself feeling like you're not doing enough as a parent. You are doing great and you are amazing. Believe it because it is the truth.
- Don’t compare yourself to…you.
You are on a whole new adventure. This isn’t your first change. You changed from middle school to high school. From high school to adulthood and now you changed as you've entered parenthood.
Soak in your new journey and when someone offers help – set the guilt down - take the help and go do anything you love.
Check-in on postpartum anxiety
As you look back at this first year with your baby, evaluate if you may need some help adjusting to life as a new mom or if things aren't going as well as you'd like. And if you're struggling more than you think you should, that's okay! You're not alone at all. Did you know 1 out of 5 moms experience postpartum anxiety? (Source)
As a new mom, you've likely heard a lot about postpartum depression, but you may not be aware of postpartum anxiety and how it may affect you. If you feel like your thoughts are uncontrollable, race around in circles, take over or are disruptive to your day, feel overwhelming, happen again and again, don’t seem logical or realistic, or scare you, then it could be postpartum anxiety speaking for you.
These uncontrollable thoughts tend to hyper-focus on a few areas of worry like:
- fears about the baby and/or your own health
- fears about your parent or partner becoming ill or dying
- a feeling that something bad will happen
- irrational obsessions or fears
- blaming yourself excessively when something goes wrong or you feel guilty all the time
Often new mothers with anxious thoughts will start to feel “bad” or guilty about the thought believing that having these thoughts makes them a bad mother. The great news is that recognizing and naming the thoughts as anxious thoughts often take away a lot of the thoughts power and make them happen less often.
One of the most important things to remember is that a thought is different from an intent. For example thoughts like “what if drop my baby” or “what if I drive off the road with the baby” (anxious/intrusive thoughts) are not the same as I intend to drop my baby or I intend to drive off the road with my baby.
Anxious thoughts happen to all new parents but if the anxious thoughts make it hard to get through your day or take care of your baby, your symptoms are getting worse, or you have thoughts about harming yourself or your baby please talk with your doctor or a therapist to get help to guide you towards feeling better.
If you're feeling like this post 'hit home' for you and are looking to reach out, we've gathered some of resources that you can use to get the help you need.
Remember, if you're feeling overwhelmed or overly anxious, you can always tell your OB-GYN or pediatrician and ask for a referral to a therapist that specializes in postpartum help.
- What to know about postpartum anxiety https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/postpartum-anxiety
- Call or Text the Postpartum International HelpLine 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) #1 En Español or #2 English Text in English: 800-944-4773 Text en Español: 971-203-7773
- How to Help Your Partner with Postpartum Depression or Anxiety
- The Motherhood Center in New York has some great resources as well
Dahlia Rizk is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and mom of three raising her kids in snowy New Hampshire. She invented Buckle Me Baby Coats so parents have a fast and easy way to buckle their little ones in the car seat without the struggle of taking coats off. Shop now and follow Buckle Me Baby Coats on Instagram.