No one says being a mother is easy. But a lot of us get caught up in the glamor, not thinking about what those hard days are going to look like. When they do hit, we are surprised and left feeling like we aren’t doing it right. But those hard days are a part of being a mom.
My Worst Day(s) as a Mother
I have four kids, but my second infant was my hardest. Every one of my kids came with a frustrating need to be induced because labor just wouldn’t start on its own. My first baby was induced two weeks late when the doctor wasn’t comfortable with letting things go longer. My second was due December 18 and I felt sure it would happen again and he would be born on top of Christmas. I decided to get induced a week early on the 11th instead of waiting. He was a stubborn one and took 42 hours to show up. But that was just the start.
He was grouchy and probably had reflux. He was hungry 24-7 and I gave him a pacifier on the second night because he wouldn’t stop nursing. I had some kind of postpartum depression or anxiety. I’m not sure it was full on depression because I passed that hospital test with flying colors. You know, the one where they ask you if you feel like hurting yourself, cry more than normal, or blame yourself for things that aren’t your fault? Yeah, I was none of those things. But I also wasn’t feeling like I did with my first baby and I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong.
This baby woke up every two hours night and day. I was sleep deprived, frustrated, sore, and hormonal. I wasn’t really able to juggle it all. I tried to ask for help, but I didn’t really know how. And, I didn’t really want to admit how much I needed it. Honestly, I couldn’t really even tell my husband how much I needed help.
It kept getting worse. After two weeks I remember being so sleep deprived I wasn’t even sure what I should and shouldn’t do as a parent. Would it be okay to just put him in a back bedroom, close the door and sleep for a few hours? I decided against that, but I didn’t know why it would really be a bad idea. I was that tired. So tired I couldn’t think through anything. More tired than I had ever been in college with art classes and huge project deadlines. At least in college I could binge sleep after a long spell of staying up.
With my new baby, I was only getting 1 hour (or less) of sleep. In college, I would just pull an all nighter rather than only get an hour. It hurts. Your body isn’t ready to wake up and I just felt nauseous every time. It didn’t help that the baby would wake up screaming like he was dying of hunger; he has his father’s metabolism.
I wasn’t connecting with the baby. I loved him by action, but struggled with how I felt. At the time he didn’t like me either. I didn’t realize it was postpartum struggles. Thankfully my husband connected with him far easier. And, after a while the feelings finally started to change.
But the Worst Days Don’t Last
I remember around 3 months I finally started to feel like he was my baby too. Around that time, I talked to a friend that gave me the idea to change his schedule from eating every 2 hours to every 3 hours over the course of a few days. I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to cut out a nighttime feeding, but this worked like a charm. Suddenly (after three days of slowly shifting the schedule), he was a different baby. Like night and day different. He was happy, finally. He slept for three hour chunks. He was still hungry often, but not with the same panic and desperation.
Anyways, those were my worst days as a mother. Not just one day, but a seemingly endless string. It was four years ago and I’ve had two more kids since. I love and enjoy all four kids. Nothing has been as stressful and bewildering as that time.
I’m not really sure what the takeaway is. All moms go through hard times. It helps to think ahead of time about what you would do or who you could reach out to when you are having a rough day. During that time I had two glorious nights when my mother-in-law came and stayed with the baby all night. That gave me an amazing boost of energy for the next few days after. For me, I had to stay on the path and just focus on acting like a mom even if I didn’t feel like one.
The Best Days are Worth It
In contrast, I’ve had a lot of days I felt great about as a mother. Usually my best days as a parent involve little-to-no social media. One random day that pops into mind was us working in the garden and the kids running around under the trees in our backyard, thrilled at how big they were and how much shade they offered. Another time that was great was taking my three kids to the pool and having my baby fall asleep in my arms floating in the water. My favorite moments are mostly the small and mundane. The worst part is, they are also fleeting and so easy to forget.
It’s hard not to feel like you are never doing enough as a mom. The online world is an amazing resource, but it doesn’t help us feel any better about our abilities as a mom. Pinterest makes everything look so fun and festive. Instagram makes everything look picture perfect. Facebook is all about the latest adventure and popularity.
And yet those same resources can also act like a diary of your favorite moments. Since my kids were born, I’ve been trying to post my favorite moments on Facebook and Instagram. Sometimes I get pictures or video, though I try not to make it take over the focus of the event. Toddler quotes are the absolute best, and it’s so fun to look back on those too. During hard days now, I love to browse my timelines and remember the little moments that are easy to forget.
There are good days. There are bad days. Everyone has both.
Hang in there, mama. And remember you aren’t alone. Reach out to someone who cares and is able to help until you get the support you need during those hard days. And, enjoy those beautiful moments with your babies as often as they come.