I vividly remember the first months of motherhood being so lonely for me. My son was born in late December, my husband wasn’t able to take any time off work, and I had no idea what I was doing as a new mother. To complicate matters, I also had this package of hospital issued mesh underwear and phone book-size pads that I was supposed to be using. (I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!) I remember sitting with my baby, watching the clock tick slowly, and feeling completely lost in what I was supposed to be doing to care for this tiny baby.
Something was definitely missing. Something didn’t feel “right.” I hadn’t showered or left my house for days in a row. I had this emptiness and hopelessness that I couldn’t figure out. After throwing away the mesh undies and giving myself a pep talk, here’s what I did….
Get Out of the House
One of the most liberating parts of that first year was the day I was “kidnapped” by my best friend. She told me it was time I learned to use my stroller at the mall. She showed me where the mother’s rooms were and how to change a diaper in public. Most of all, she helped me gain some confidence that I could actually be a mother outside of my house. If you don’t have someone to help you out, that’s okay, too! Start small by heading to a coffee shop by yourself.
Find Your Group
Next, I started going to a baby music class that was fun for my son. However, most of the time we were completely focused on our babies, and I didn’t get to know any other mothers that way. Much of that is my fault for not reaching out to others, but I still enjoyed the time in the real world. Finding a group where mothers can talk about daily struggles of motherhood is important. I finally found a group like this through a local church and it was a game-changer for me! (Have you found your Des Moines Moms Blog Neighborhood Group yet? This would be a great place to start! There are many church, MOPS, Le Leche League, and postpartum groups in Des Moines, too.)
Realize This Feeling Is Normal
I never imagined other mothers were feeling this way, too! Being lonely is something that is so common, yet not many moms are talking about it. I had set such unrealistic expectations for myself that couldn’t be met, and that left me wanting to hide at home. I couldn’t figure out how the other mothers had time to do their hair and put their baby in a matching outfit before coming to music group. I was in yoga pants and a frumpy college sweatshirt (and those silly mesh undies!), and my baby was wearing clothes that were way too big. Even as I searched for photos to use in this post, I realized that all I could find were happy, smiling mothers. None of them come close to showing how I was feeling as a new mom. In the age of social media, it’s so easy to assume that other mothers have life figured out… but we cannot assume we know the reality others are experiencing. After I started leaving those worries behind, I started to feel more open and connected to the other moms.
Remember that it will get easier, you are not alone, and there is hope! Motherhood is so much better when we can do it together.
Note: If you are completely overwhelmed, sensing something is wrong, or feeling like you might have postpartum depression (mild or severe), seek help from your healthcare provider and/or mental health specialist ASAP.