When I was pregnant and thought of what my life was going to be like as a mother, I just assumed it was something I would naturally love. I felt like it was something that would come easy to me and that motherhood was going to be this great layer to my life.
So when I found myself sitting in the shower bawling my eyes out as my baby started to cry, I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
Motherhood has always felt to me like a shoe that doesn’t quite fit properly. It doesn’t mean I don’t like it, and it doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful for it, and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t love my children. I love them so fricken much I just want to cuddle them and never let them go. But it does, at times, feel awkward, uncomfortable, and just odd.
After my son was born he was in NICU for 66 days, which I feel is what contributed to my disconnect with motherhood. After all, I had a baby, but the baby was in the NICU and I was alone at night and I wasn’t able to care for my baby in the way I expected to as a new mother.
When I was able to take him home, I felt very disconnected from myself. I didn’t recognise myself anymore. In 12 months I’d gone from a vibrant, career-driven, independent woman to a divorced new mother unsure if I was going to be able to return to work and unsure of everything I was doing.
While most women don’t go through such a massive, turbulent change when they enter motherhood, it isn’t uncommon to find yourself not feeling like you anymore.
I spent a lot of time working on myself, getting professional help and finding out who I was again. Which is why I wanted to share with you ways in which you can overcome that feeling when you don’t feel like yourself after having a baby.
These are some things you can do to help:
1 – Understand It’s Okay
It’s okay to feel the way you do. Your feelings are valid and you are allowed to feel however you feel. There are no rules to how you should or shouldn’t feel and there’s no timeframe to feel a certain way by a certain time.
You’ve just gone through a massive change in your life and everything is now different, it’s going to take some time to adjust and find your feet. You’re not failing, you’re not doing it wrong, it just takes time.
We actually recorded a video about finding your feet in Motherhood and you can access it for free here:
2 – Check Your Expectations
Whenever we feel dissatisfaction in our life, it’s because our expectations aren’t being met. If you’re not feeling like yourself in motherhood, chances are your expectations aren’t in line with what is happening in your life.
So, what are your expectations? This can be a difficult one to actually verbalise or to put into words, often it’s a feeling, an emotion, and we just aren’t getting what we thought we would.
One of the best things I did was speak to a professional about this. I spent a lot of time with my psychologist who was amazing at helping me actually work out what my expectations were and then adjusting them so they were a little more realistic.
I found myself longing for the old me, but the reality was, I was never going to be the ‘old’ me whether motherhood was included or not. We are always changing. You’re not the same person now as you were 5 or 10 years ago and you’re not going to be the same person in 5 years from now.
It’s okay to change and it’s okay to embrace that change.
3 – Ask Yourself What Is Missing
Before I became a mother I was working full time as a Paramedic. I love my job. It was so much a part of my identity and I loved the challenges it brought and I was excited to go to work. While I loved spending time with my son, I felt like I needed something for me again, and that was going back to work.
Admittedly, it was incredibly difficult and my role just wasn’t the same for a long time. But after my daughter was born I was actually able to job share with my husband, adjusting my role so it was more like it was before I had kids, and ever since then, I have felt that real connection to my ‘old’ self.
For you, it might not be work-related. But if there is something you feel is missing in your life, ask yourself if there is any way you can bring that thing back into your life now.
4 – Find Moments To Connect With Yourself
Having a new baby is such a demand on your time and on yourself. It’s hard to feel like you when you’re in this new role as a mother and it all feels unfamiliar and unchartered.
Take little opportunities to connect with yourself. It might be as simple as doing something that makes you happy, or catching up with friends, or journaling your thoughts.
Whatever it is, make time to do it. I know we can easily get caught because it feels like we don’t have time, but most of us can find just a few minutes each day to do something for ourselves. Looking after yourself and doing things that make you happy is so important.
5 – Be Kind To Yourself
Above all else, be kind to yourself Mama. Give yourself time and space to find your way and don’t put pressure on yourself to be or feel a certain way.
I remember sitting thinking about all the things I had lost, all the things about myself that were no longer possible and no longer available to me. But when I started focusing on the amazing things, the new things and how they made me even better, it made me feel like I was finally seeing myself in motherhood.
You haven’t lost yourself when you become a mother, it’s just a new version of you. There are still core parts of you that remain, and it’s fun to find how this new layer of you fits in with who you are. But it takes time. And that’s okay.
Hopefully, this helps you cope if you’re not feeling like yourself after you have a new baby, and remember, it’s okay to reach out and ask for help. I did and I was a much better woman, wife and mother because of it.