The excitement of a new baby has died down a bit. Your visitors left, your mom finally went home, the meal train has ended, and your partner’s gone back to work. Your friends who don’t have children might not visit as often.
And here you are.
With a newborn.
Our society sets high standards for new parents. We’re told how life will never be the same again. We envision our postpartum time with our newborn to be utterly joyous and magical, and when it’s not quite how we expected, we’re left looking around at our friends’ beautifully curated Facebook photos with their newborns and asking ourselves, “Is it just me? Am I the only one feeling this way?”
Hear me, my friend: you are not alone.
The more we share about the truth of our postpartum loneliness, anxiety, and depression, the less stigma there will be around this delicate time. We are healing. Our identities have changed vastly. We’re exhausted. And we really could use some support.
“I got touched out really quickly. As much as I love cuddling with my son, I was overwhelmed by how I never had any space once he arrived. Sometimes I just wanted to give him to someone else and just sit by myself…but I felt so guilty. Even thinking that made me feel so guilty.”
First, rule out postpartum depression. Sometimes these feelings are a bit deeper than just loneliness, and postpartum depression, anxiety, or psychosis needs to be treated clinically. If you have symptoms of PPD, contact your doctor.
Second, connect with other moms. Odds are there is a Facebook group for parents in your area; look it up and join! If there isn’t one, start one; you never know who else is looking for some connection. Many of these groups facilitate play dates and can be a great catalyst for making lasting friendships with other parents. The best part? When you’re up late with a little one, there’s likely someone else online, too!
Third, do something for you. I know, I know, easier said than done, but remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you desperately need a soak in the tub, do it. If your body is missing your yoga practice, do it. If you’re about to go apeshit if you don’t get your favorite coffee drink, do it. Ask your partner or other relative for support. Stick the baby in the bassinet for ten minutes. You will be a better mom when you’re taking care of yourself.