Author K.L. Hall
From Lemons to Lemonade: Surviving my First Two Weeks of Motherhood🍋
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Picture it: One week postpartum. I’m sitting in the waiting room waiting to be seen by my doctor to talk about the 18 out of 30 I scored on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Usually, I’d love a high score, but in this case, the lower your score is, the better. (In fact, anything over a 10 is considered depression.) Anyway, a TED Talk is playing on the 20-inch TV stuck on the wall, and I hear these words…
“Tough emotions are part of our contract with life...”
And I’m immediately sucked in. Because, tough emotions are why I’m there in the first place, right?
I felt like I was drowning.
I felt like a machine (a broken one at that).
I felt like an alien in my skin.
I wasn’t eating. I lost ALL of my baby weight except for six pounds within the first ten days of my daughter’s birth. I was sleep-deprived. I cried daily. I didn’t recognize the person I saw when I looked in the mirror. When you’re pregnant, everybody tells you to “get as much rest as you can” as if you can bottle sleep and save it for a rainy day. Yet, nobody talks about how scary it is when you can’t get out of your way and you have a kid to take care of.
I missed being pregnant. I missed hearing her heartbeat inside my womb and knowing she was safe. I fell in love with the being growing inside me. I felt connected as if we were one. I fell in love with the idea of having a mini-me; all the cute outfits I’d dress her in and all the cute pictures we’d take on vacations or birthdays. Yet, the moment she arrived, I was petrified. How could I be scared of the little girl I’d prayed for?
I know myself. I’m an overachiever and have always been that way. I didn’t want to fail. I was riddled with anxiety and the pressures of wanting to do everything right. I read too much and listened to too many people, which stressed me out even more. PUMP this much. TIME this. SLEEP when she sleeps. WRITE this down. I wanted to fucking scream. I knew I was a self-starter, a problem solver. I didn’t stay down long enough to let the grass grow underneath my feet. Yet, I couldn’t get my shit together. There were days where I couldn’t keep myself from crying if I wanted to. I wanted to run away and hide and wore that guilt around like an extra layer of clothing. Everybody told me to cherish the moments when she’s small. Yet, I was ready to hit the fast forward button to a few months ahead just to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, how did I start to break through the fog?
I DIDN’T hide what I was going through. I talked to anybody who would listen. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. I cried on the phone to my family and friends. Anytime I would cry, my fiancé would make me verbalize the reason behind my tears. That helped me figure out what was the problem at the time, and verbalize what I was feeling, and figure out how to change the narrative in my head. I listened to motherhood podcasts. I wrote positive affirmations on the board in my office so I could see them every day. I PRAYED HARD. I got out of the house and drove to Target ALONE just to feel some sort of normalcy.
Again, being the “A-Student” that I am, I had to learn that motherhood isn’t grade school. It’s real life. There’s no “gold star” for making it through the day without crying. There’s no gold star for getting her feedings right on time every day. There’s no gold star for pumping like a madwoman. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to say, “fuck this” and “fuck that” more and more every day. I’m reminding myself not to let perfect get in the way of good enough. As long as my baby is fed, healthy, clothed, and loved, she’s good and I’m doing a good job. I had to stop being so hard on myself. Who was I to think that I would have motherhood down to a science in less than 14 days? This is a lesson that I will continue to learn every day as I go; learning my daughter as she learns herself.
Motherhood has been my biggest hurdle and my biggest reward. I know I still have a long way to go, but as long as I can hold onto my new mindset, I know I’ll be okay. ❤️