I Lost A Piece of Myself When I Had My Babies
“… in my pregnancy, and through becoming a mother, I lost a lot of myself.”
Everyone else is writing about how amazing it was for Adele to break her Grammy award in two to share with Beyonce. Why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that Adele has been struggling with her own self identity and probably postpartum depression?
Adele said, in her 2017 Grammy acceptance speech, “… in my pregnancy, and through becoming a mother, I lost a lot of myself. I struggled, and I still do struggle being a mum — it’s really hard. Tonight, winning this kind of feels full circle and like a bit of me has come back to myself.”
Watching her choke through those 2 sentences hit me straight in the heart. I know that feeling. That sense of loss, even though you’ve been gifted a beautiful healthy baby. It’s a horrible contradiction and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with guilt.
When my first daughter was born, I was incredibly unhappy. I found out about 3 months later that I was suffering from postpartum depression, but I didn’t know it then. I was exhausted. I cried over everything. Everything felt difficult. I felt no joy with this baby.
I couldn’t help but measure myself to what I thought was the “right” way to be a new Mom. I was supposed to be happy and full of joy. At peace and in wonderment at this beautiful baby I brought into this world. My maternal instincts would kick in and I would just know what to do.
Oh please. That is NOT at all how I felt.
It feels like the worst betrayal to be given a healthy baby and secretly not wanting it. I did the best I knew how. I hid my feelings. I would never tell people that I hated being a Mother. But I did. I really did.
Mother Nature can be cruel. It’s tough enough to be a new Mom with endless, sleepless nights, but to then pile hormonal imbalances that make it impossible to cope with the exhaustion, is just over the top awful.
But happiness wasn’t an emotion I remembered. On top of the depression and lack of sleep… there was also this overwhelming sense of loss. The loss of me. Is this it? Is this me now? Is my world all about this baby and nothing else? What about the business I wanted to build? Will I ever be able to do any of the things I planned on doing in my life?
Plus… my body was different. My boobs hurt, my stomach was stretched out and I still couldn’t put on any of my old jeans. I felt awful. Unattractive. Frumpy. There wasn’t one piece of me left. That’s what I felt anyway.
The reality is, when you become a Mother, your identity DOES change. You’re now a Mother, in addition to being many other things. This dramatic shift can be confusing. For some, it’s wonderful. For others, like me, it takes some getting used to.
If I could turn back time, here is what I’d tell me:
It’s going to be ok. This feeling you have is only temporary.
There is no right or wrong way to feel. Give yourself permission to cry. To be angry. To be sad. It’s ok. You’re not a bad person or a bad mother.
You will soon fall in love with that baby and know a love that you’ve never experienced before.
You may have lost a piece of yourself, but you’ve gained a stronger piece. As soon as you see it, you will begin to feel more comfortable with this version of you.
It’s ok to say goodbye to pre-baby you. You didn’t fail her and it doesn’t mean you’ve given up on who you want to be. It simply means, it’s time to embrace who you are right now. Even if you didn’t have a baby, you still wouldn’t be that same person from 9 months ago.
Your life is not “supposed” to be anything but what it is right now. It’s perfect with all of its imperfections.
If you’re going through similar emotions, I hope that this article helps in some small way. Take care of yourself. The laundry can wait. The sink full of dishes can wait. Put the baby in the stroller and get outside for a walk. Fresh air and exercise may save your sanity. It did for me.
Jen Thoden is an online color stylist, entrepreneur, runner & mother-of-the-year (not) dedicated to helping women (re)discover their unique self and inspire them to take back their power in fun and creative ways. She is the founder of Your Color Style™, a proprietary online color system that makes it easy for women to discover their best colors and to learn how to style themselves in ways that make them feel amazing.