Post-Partum Truths: What is "Normal"?

Nov 25, 2020

“When a baby is born, so is a mother”

I am no stranger to mental health struggles.

I know what it feels like to fight the feelings that I am not good enough. I am not enjoying this.

I remember being in 1st year psychology and reading the DSM-V diagnostic criteria for generalized anxiety. It was like my heart sank. I realized I met them. I realized not everyone felt like this all of the time. I realized I had been experiencing it as far back as I could recall.

When I became a mother, those feelings, those intrusive thoughts, started creeping up again.

I am not good enough. 

I am not enjoying this.

Aren’t I supposed to be happy?  

Isn’t this supposed to be the happiest time of my life?

I have heard how other women describe motherhood…like the whole world stops, the skies part and you settle in, knowing that everything is right in the world. That you finally understand your purpose.

Well, that didn’t happen.

I constantly felt like I wasn’t measuring up. Like there was something wrong with me for not feeling how I was “supposed to”. Like I was less of a mother because I didn’t love it more than I’ve ever loved anything before.

To be clear – my midwives, my counsellor and naturopath don’t feel that I am clinically depressed.

In fact, they keep telling me it’s normal. That many of the women they work with feel this way after baby.

What? This is normal? This crushing feeling, this anxiety – it isn’t even severe. This is just what everyone feels?

How come we don’t talk about it? How come we don’t know about it? How come we don’t expect it. 

So I started doing what I always do – I did my research, I talked to the amazing women in my community.

And this is what I found…

The 4th trimester is much like periods of other significant hormonal fluctuation. Adolescence and menopause. There are hormonal shifts that impact how a person feels, how they process emotions. This period is completely normal, and what almost every single woman struggles through after their baby. And not to be confused with post-partum depression.

We need to normalize this transition – not pathologize it.

I love my daughter. I have the moments where my heart explodes when I watch her sleep or she looks into my eyes. I feel the oxytocin from delivery, from the skin to skin contact and breast feeding that makes this baby the centre of my world. That gives me a sense of calm and connection in moments that I have never felt before.

But there is also a divide, that I don’t think we do anyone any services (our daughters, the new moms that come after us) by not talking about it. The isolation from other important parts of my identity – my work, my hobbies, my spiritual, intellectual and physical needs. I miss those too. I find myself wishing I could go back to the office, I could help the women that come to be – that fills me up with passion and joy. I long for that too.

I am here to tell you that some level of doubt, uncertainty or even ambivalence is normal. Not shameful. You are still a badass mom even if you want your life to consist of more than only being a mom. 

Because when someone asks my daughter about me…I want her to know how much I love her, but I also want her to know I changed the world. And tell them exactly that “my mom is a badass”.

Let’s have more of these conversations so we don’t feel so alone during this time. So e don’t feel like awful humans for not fitting the hallmark mould. So we can do away with the stigma and the guilt.

Where do you start?

You start by joining The Pleasure Mindset Bootcamp. Where hundreds of women have these open and honest conversations about life, motherhood and pleasure. About being themselves, holding on to their own identity and letting their children develop their own too.

The feelings are the work. Let’s feel them together.

There is more I want to say, but my daughter is crying, and my tits feel like they are going to explode. Going to have to check back in next week.

Dr. J


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