Postpartum: Loss of Identity (Pt 2)

A few weeks ago, I discussed how Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, coupled with the obvious changes that come with Motherhood, changed my own perspective and identity at work.  If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ve noticed that I’ve been posting more because this week is Maternal Mental Health Week.  Thus, I thought it would be fitting to post how PPD and PPA has affected on my self identity overall.

Work took a lot of my time, and as I said, it was how I really defined who I was. The time I spent outside of work was filled with boxing, Muay Thai, shopping, reading, meeting up with people, etc. I could do what I want, when I wanted.  I could plan my life as often as I wanted, or I could do things on a whim if I felt like it.  If I wanted to have a lazy day, I did.  Though life could have it’s stresses, responsibilities were different.  Life was different.

Everyone always jokes how your life changes once the baby is born. Things won’t be the same; you won’t be the same.  Despite that, the old you won’t be missed and it won’t make a difference, because life will be better. You’ll have the baby, and that’s all that matters. How I wished this was true for me.

After the first two months of being consumed by motherhood, I had convinced myself that there wasn’t any part of the old me left.  I already had to deal with the fact with my work identity being gone.   I felt as if I was stuck in an in-between. I struggled as a mother, so I didn’t think I could define myself as that. All those things that I used to enjoy seemed so far away and foreign. The life that was once lived seemed like a long time ago. I had friends, but I didn’t talk really know how to tell them what I was feeling. After all, I was afraid of people thinking that I didn’t love my child or knowing that I was an inadequate mother.

Things that were enjoyable to me before seemed so hard to do. I couldn’t leave my child behind.  I couldn’t go anywhere on my own. If I spent time doing something for myself, then I felt guilty for not spending it with my son.  Slowly, over time, this avoidance of self-care began to deteriorate  my ability to think clearly and enjoy the new life I was leading.

I found myself being envious of people. I was jealous of the friends who could still box and go to Muay Thai practice and fights. I was sad that I could never get past the first chapter of a book because I’d be tired.  I couldn’t catch up on movies, because it meant being away from my son. Even if I tried, I’d fall asleep from exhaustion.  If someone called or wanted to hang out, I wouldn’t want to because of the way I looked and felt.  I was saddened every time someone posted a travel picture – because I thought that I’d never go anyway again. By all definitions, I felt that life was over.

It’s strange, because so many people talk about how their life really began once they became parents. Things were so much clearer and happier for them. Yet, here I was saying the opposite – I remember my old life. It was amazing. I loved it. As a new mother, I mourned for it, because all that’s left is an empty shell of who I used to be. The happy mother who was supposed to replace my old self didn’t exist, and I doubted that she could ever be. I wasn’t mother material, and my old life is gone – I felt lost.

It took a while before I could allow myself to really accept these changes. I had to learn that while the old me wasn’t exactly around entirely, pieces of me were.  In place, new and exciting things had come along to explore and learn.  It’s still a work in progress, and I find myself still trying to figure out where all my interests fall in.  There are days where I put too much into a single day, and others where I wonder what happened to my life.  I’m still learning about balance, which I think is something that will keep changing as my life does. In any case, the silver lining of it all is that I have come to a point where I can say that my identity is not loss, just reformed. I love being a mom, and I love incorporating my new family life into some of my interests. I still try to get some of my old life back in (heeey boxing, looking at you!). So, things are coming along.  Now if only I can get my work issues together….

Note:

If you’d like to participate in bringing awareness to Maternal Mental Health, it’s not too late! All social media tools, especially Twitter and Facebook, are useful in spreading the word. Check the Maternal Mental Health Coalition on MMH Awareness Week, and download a toolkit today!

 

 

22 thoughts on “Postpartum: Loss of Identity (Pt 2)

  1. Such a lovely post. Thanks for sharing. I am not a mother yet, but I know many mother’s can feel lost along the way and struggle to find their identity again. It’s great you shared your story. There are many women feeling more at ease knowing they aren’t alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. how was your week? i made it through week 1 at work with only a few meltdowns…thinking of you! and i loved this post, btw. i can relate to a lot of it. someone wished me a happy birthday in september when LG was a month old and they said “hope you’re having the best birthday ever!” i was like, am i a bad person that this is definitely far from my best birthday ever!? i’m feeling blessed with our baby (ivf/fet success here:) but miserable and in agony trying to bf and my son was super colicky and i hadn’t slept more than an hour at any given time in six weeks. oof. it’s gotten way better but the beginning was rough.

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    • You made through week one Monica! That is a good thing. I know it’s so very hard. I was able to work half days for the first two weeks for transition, and it was ok. BUT, when I went back full time, I had a meltdown each week for three weeks. It’s normal, and there’s just so many changes we have to deal with. You’re not a bad person for feeling what you do. You’re going through so much.. Work, BF, no sleep. Who wouldn’t be? Think of it this way though, it’s gotten way better for you…and it will definitely continue to be. I don’t know you personally, but I can tell that you’re a very strong mama. I read your blog and I am continuously in awe of your strength and courage. I am so confident that things will be much easier for you! Keep blogging mama, you’ve got talent 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One thing I learned about quitting my job as an investment banker to become a full time mom, is that we have the ability to reinvent ourselves many times over. I’m an empty nester now. Though the transition was very hard, our children are the better for it.

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  4. It takes a lot of courage to write such an honest blog post! Thank you!
    With my first born I still worked full time and was glad that I didn’t have the financial luxury of being a stay at home mom. I didn’t have to justify why I was working, I could always answer “I don’t have the choice, we need the money”. But in reality, I was glad that I could go to work and be something other than “only” a mother. Saying this out loud opens you up to a lot of critism from others and people accuse you of not loving your child enough. That’s just simply not true, but it’s hard to explain that, especially if you feel like you need to justify your decision to complete strangers. At that point in my life, I could not imagine being a stay at home mom, I thought I would not feel fulfilled and be a bad mom because I would miss my work life. 10 years later, my 3rd child was born and I quit my job to stay at home with my kids. I have been a stay at home mom for almost a year now and could not be happier! I am greatful that we have the financial luxury to somehow get through the months on only my husbands salary and feel happy and fulfilled with my strenuous, loud and adventurous day of taking care of 3 boys.
    The point I am trying to make is this:
    It’s a growing process. I learned to get to know me as a mom, who I am, what I like doing, how I define myself. I don’t define myself solely as a mom, because there is so much more to me than that… but I am finally ok with strangers putting me in that drawer, thinking that there is nothing more to my life than cleaning, changing diapers and cooking… because, what do they know? I have finally gotten to the point where I got to know myself… and I like who I have evolved and grown into…it’s all me, just a new me with my own rules 🙂
    I wish you all the luck in the world and warm hugs as you make the journey to find the new and exciting you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience, I don’t know what you’re going through – I’ve never had children. BUT I am myself very sensitive to hormonal changes (I’ve had a hellish time on all the birth control methods) and I understand the deep emptiness feeling and emotions not making any sense. I hope things get better for you soon

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  6. Being honest I guess most of new mommy faces same. But gradually you will enjoy the beauty of being a mother. First year with a baby is pretty stuff to handle. Hope you cope up well and start enjoying

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey there. I’ve actually stumbled across this article via Facebook and I am suprised to find such a touching post. I know it sounds cliché but I know how you feel, although I do not have children. I suffer from PTSD and severe depression.
    A lot of people think, life will get better at some point. Actually, it doesn’t. Life will not get better, but you will. One day, you’ll be strong enough to withstand all that may trouble you now. And I bet, motherhood is quite stressful. But I think you have the ability to handle this! I wish you and your child the best, stay save! 🙂

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  8. This is such a transparent post! I truly understand what you’re going through and like you, I found myself a bit sad with the changes that I’ve been through physically & mentally as a new mom. But it’s definitely a daily walk! You have to learn to let go of the old version of yourself and embrace the new. The new you is a lot stronger, more seasoned in taking care of a little human being, more freely giving of herself, and that’s amazing traits to realize. It can definitely be a struggle to not have as much time for yourself when you have a young one, but you have to be intentional about taking even 5 minutes to just unwind. Your new ways of relaxing or having “me” time may not match you old ways entirely, but that’s not a loss. Motherhood just requires that we change, most times for the better, although it doesn’t always feel that way. I commend you for your truth! I know how you feel! Cheers to loving Motherhood! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You loose a lot of those things in the beginning of motherhood and while your children are young. And thats as it should be, they need you. But eventually your able to find yourself again when your children get a bit older, and as they find who they are as individuals. Just keep reminding yourself that this is only a short season of your life and that for this short time its ok. You’ll find YOU again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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