It’s true. I admit it. Every time the Huggies “power of hugs” commercial hits the screen I cover my face with my knees so my husband doesn’t see me 😭. It’s not that I’m ashamed about displaying emotion, rather I’m afraid he might ask me why I’m crying and the question would force me to face the truth behind my tears. I wish I could say my sentiment comes from a positive place, a pleasant memory that causes me to weep because I miss what once was. Instead, this innocent TV commercial is a constant reminder of how beautiful motherhood seems on camera but how difficult it was for me in real life. Three years in, it’s clear that I suffered from some level of maternal depression brought on by dealing with a colicky infant. And while the inconsolable crying might have only gone on for a couple of months, the intensity of it had a lasting impact on me. An experience that I can only categorize as traumatic.
What woman refers to her experience of becoming a new mom as traumatic?!? That is an adjective I had never imagined using when describing the first few months of motherhood. From the moment my daughter turned three weeks old until three months old I had to face the fact that traditional ways of soothing a newborn were not going to work for me. The inability to hold my daughter lovingly in my arms and calm her down was not something I was mentally prepared for. I had only ever been exposed to the photoshopped images of parenting i.e. the breastfeeding, brunching mom who’s baby coos and smiles then peacefully falls asleep on cue so was beyond unprepared to deal with my reality. And no matter how much I tried to tell myself (and still do), I couldn’t help but feel I was doing something wrong, that her temperament was a result of my behaviour. That said, upon the initial few days of bringing her home, I felt at peace like I had never before. I wasn’t a nervous parent, quite the opposite. Within the first two weeks of her birth, I held group yoga sessions in my house, allowed visitors to pick-up my newborn whilst she slept and happily woke up at all hours of the night to feed her. I was exactly the mom I had imagined myself to be but all that changed overnight. My complacency quickly transformed into anxiety the moment I realized nothing I did could appease her and, slowly, I began to isolate myself. I didn’t want to be around others listening to their futile advice while dealing with an inconsolable infant and I’m sure that made things worst. Looking back, I should have followed my own mother’s advice and stayed with her for 40 days while she looked after me and my baby girl. In most western countries, that’s the norm, the way of assuring a mother stays both physically and mentally healthy. Somehow in the culture we live in, the image of the perfect mom is one who’s handling it all on her own.
Everyone always tells you to enjoy the moments you have because they don’t last forever. Unfortunately, I can never look back on what was supposed to be a precious time in my life with pleasant thoughts. Sadly, it’s something I missed out on but maybe I can make up for it one day.