Nothing rocked me like the loss of my own identity after becoming a mother.
I had spent years learning who I was. Making mistakes and learning from them. Going through phases, friends, relationships, and apartments. All culminating into the woman I was right before becoming a mother.
I don’t mean as soon as the stick showed two lines. I mean as soon as we arrived home with a whole new person who needed us more than anything or anyone ever had.
When you’re preparing for life with your first baby, you do a lot of dreaming. Blindly, naively, full of hope, and maybe a little bit of fear. Your future plays across your mind over and over like the sweet rom-coms we’re all missing these days. You imagine the warm baby snuggles, the new bond you’ll share with your spouse, and the honor it is to raise a child. It’s all true, but it’s not the whole story.
Everyone has a unique experience, a journey all their own. So, to be fair, it’s hard to generalize this season. For me, it was the breaking of a whole person, to become something more.
No one tells you about the hard parts. They’ll say, “Oh, you’ll be tired” or “Oh, you won’t have any free time”. But they’ll never say, “Oh, this is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Your relationships and your resilience will be tested.”
I distinctly remember my husband telling me he was worried about me. We were standing in the kitchen, I was only a few months postpartum, with tears in my eyes and a cloud of melancholy surrounding me. I didn’t know how to respond to him. I honestly didn’t know if I was depressed, sleep deprived, or both.
Intrusive thoughts filled my head. Was I doing a good enough job? I felt like I was drowning. Were my husband and son better off without me? I felt like more of a burden.
I no longer knew who I was. How did the role as a mother fit into the woman I was before? I didn’t feel like a wife, daughter, sister, or friend. Only a mother, like they couldn’t all fit into the same person.
When I would leave the house without my son, I felt like an imposter. I was missing something that no one else could see. I was in a fog. I remember having client meetings or shooting my first wedding back feeling like I was lost. I didn’t know what to say or how to act… couldn’t they tell?
Few people checked in on me. But those who did, oh, I appreciated them so much. I never understood the power of a simple message, until then. Just to feel seen and not so alone. I was gifted with words of affirmation from other women who had walked the same road as I was on. I vowed from then on, I would do the same for any new mothers.
In hindsight, it wasn’t until I began reaching out to those women that I realized how depressed I truly had been. I expected them to express similar feelings to what I had felt, and they didn’t. No one else seemed to be in that same darkness I had been in. If they had, they weren’t talking about it.
Maybe they were better prepared. Maybe someone had warned them about how difficult postpartum is. Maybe their baby was sleeping better, cried less, or they had more help.
They say when you give birth, two people are born. A child, and a mother.
I was so in love with my son, the moment his body laid against my chest for the first time. It’s true, there is nothing like it. There is no love deeper than this. It is unmatched.
As he grew, I grew, too. Eventually, fitting his world into mine started to become more natural. We share the same space, a part of one another. He is mine, and I am his.
I never blamed him for the season I was in. I just had to relearn who I was with this new role as a mother. The woman before still existed, and I figured out that these roles could all prevail within this same body and mind.
There is nothing more natural and instinctive to me now, than being a mom. It is absolutely the greatest, most rewarding, challenging, conflicting, fulfilling thing I have ever done. It was like I had to be broken down, brought to my knees, in order to be rebuilt.
It is true, motherhood broke me.
But, it also gave me the purest love I have ever known.
Above all else, I am a mother.
My son is my greatest purpose, the most perfect gift, and I am whole again.
Photography: Elle Marie Photography