Before I was pregnant, I heard a podcast about how long it would take for your hormones to balance after pregnancy and to expect not to feel “normal” until then. (I believe this was a conversation around the book “The Postnatal Depletion Cure”) I think it was two/three years minimum. I’m not positive because I don’t remember what podcast it was and I haven’t read the book yet, score one for mommy brain — I’m just now getting around to books I optimistically bought during my maternity leave almost two years ago.
I mention this because just now, as I reflect on 2020, I am realizing that I’m feeling more like myself than I can remember. I had a great pregnancy, a positive birth experience, and, minus some pretty gnarly breastfeeding issues, transitioned into motherhood easily. My son rarely cried, was a pretty good sleeper, and I had a partner that was probably as in tune with us as possible. It wasn’t until I went back to work, at 17 weeks postpartum, that I noticed there were some things negatively different about me. My ability to concentrate was frustratingly nonexistent, my mind was constantly going blank, and I would be (internally) enraged by my inability to complete small tasks. That was year one.
2020 brought year two of motherhood for me. By this point, I was still having concentration issues, though not as bad as before, and I was ready to make some lifestyle changes to support this new version of myself. My priorities were to spend more time with my son and to work for myself through freelance odd jobs and starting Birth Order. This would free up some of the space in my brain held by mom guilt and release the pressure that I had to perform professionally on someone else’s schedule.
This mostly worked. I was feeling a lot better, but my post baby hormonal acne was raging (I’d always had good skin before) and conversations with friends had gotten harder, like I couldn’t relate to them or felt like they weren’t hearing what I was trying to say when we talked. Looking back, I think it was actually COVID isolation that had me feeling like I was on the right track more than I had actually completed my postpartum healing. Being home all of the time allowed me to fully indulge in myself and my family. I didn’t have to hype myself up for social events or make excuses for why I didn’t want to attend them. Without the pressure to perform happiness, I found space for myself. Space that was quiet, where I didn’t feel guilt for enjoying it, and I could think again.
While most people have had COVID fatigue for over half a year, I am just now wanting to see people again. My skin is getting better (with the help of an esthetician), my period is back to it’s pre-pregnancy regularity (both signs that my hormones are leveling out), I am watching movies again (something minor that I love, but didn’t have the attention span for), I am in a virtual book club, and I’m really missing my friends.
Almost two years in and I am just now feeling like when I take a deep breath I can fully exhale.
All of this is to say that I had an ideal experience and this is exactly why Birth Order means so much to me. Even with a good experience, the transition to motherhood is HARD. It takes a toll and fundamentally changes you. I don’t want to not be a mom, but I would really like to take a vacation to my old life for a weekend. I am grateful that I had heard this idea that it takes years to fully feel like yourself again, and want to say this to you in case you need to hear it too. Happy healing and happy new year!