It has been one year since I held my son for the first time and the mom guilt is beginning to sink in. I feel guilty for feelings and situations that I had no control over. I was robbed of the first six months of my son’s life, the squishy stage as I like to call it. Those months are all a blur to me and it hurts. It hurts only having pictures and stories of my son’s birth but very little memory of what happened while I was in the hospital. It hurts not remembering the first time he rolled over. It hurts only remembering the pain and exhaustion that overtook my body those first months. It hurts seeing the pictures and how much he has grown but only recalling memories from six months old until now, and even in that time frame some memories are a blur.
If you were to ask me about those first months of my sons life I would describe them in these four words, angry, frustrated, scared, and tired. I have dealt with mental illness before but nothing prepared me for how it felt when my son was born. I felt like the greatest thing was happening to me but I wanted nothing to do with it and had no clue why. I look back and try to remember the good but all I remember was wishing it was over. Oh, how I had taken that time for granted.
As Joshua begins taking step after step forward in life I just wish we could go back in time so I could relive those precious first few months of his life. I keep thinking to myself if I could go back and do it all over again differently I would. But the question is would I have the strength to do it differently?
This mom guilt thing rears it’s head at the ugliest of times. You are tired, hungry, and just need some you time but Mom Guilt says ‘You’ve already missed 6 months of his life, don’t miss anymore. Stop being Selfish.‘ This mom guilt is why I don’t like letting others watch my son while I go out. What if I miss something? It’s just another thing to add to the list of things I either cant remember or missed because I wasn’t there.
The crazy thing is I remember my melt downs so vividly. I remember breaking down and yelling at him at two in the morning as he was crying in his bassinet because he pooped his diaper. I remember being angry at him for not knowing I was tired when he was less than two months old. I remember wanting to end it all because I wasn’t the mom he deserved to have.
Even though I remember very few of the good memories when the mom guilt shows up I need to remember that even though I was not mentally there for those first months of his life, I was physically there. I am still alive because I didn’t give into to the suicidal thoughts that I was struggling with. My marriage is thriving and my husband is slowly learning to help me through my melt downs and panic attacks. My son is still here and has grown tremendously all because of me. (One year of breastfeeding down!!!)
I know that I am not alone in this. I know that many other women struggle with postpartum mental illness and some sort of mom guilt daily. Not everyone’s struggle looks like mine but that is the beauty of it all. Our struggle is unique based on the circumstances in our life. Mom guilt may look different to a stay at home mom and a working mom, but each struggle is valid. Just because a mother spends 24/7 with their child doesn’t mean they don’t feel some sort of guilt and vice versa.
You are valid, your situation is valid, and you are not alone. I urge you to reach out and share you story with someone. Let someone listen because holding these feelings in will only make them worse. Share this so moms know that they are not alone in their silent struggle. That is why I do what I do, to be the hope that someone needs to get through the day.