Losing and gaining our identities postpartum.
Pregnancy and new motherhood. When things start to shift.
Part of the reason I started this podcast was because of the sense of free falling I felt starting in pregnancy and acutely as a new mama. What a startling contrast to be completely enamored with my new baby juxtaposed with a sense of bewilderment at my new life, body, sleep schedule. etc. As an active, independent mama who used to spend hours surfing alone, and carelessly abiding by my own schedule, having to answer to everyone else was a completely different experience for me.
I wondered if other mamas felt as if they were losing layers of themselves as well, or if they felt guilty, like me, for feeling this way. For instance, did other moms feel like the things they’d previously defined themselves as THEM were all being stripped away, re-ordered, replaced or removed? Did they feel like they completely adored their babies but also were losing a grip on who they were?
Because I was so insular and attached to/ enamored by my sweet baby in the first few months, contact with other mamas, well just people in general, as a frame of reference was at an all time low. I felt guilty for being anxious, cooped-up, and lost.
My 25 year love affair with surfing was put into a sudden halt at month five of my pregnancy, and so did my connection with the surfing community, the ocean, my self care and exercise. When I tried to return to the water, post baby, it was with a weakened core and sense of confidence. People would paddle circles around me as I tried to wait patiently for my body to get stronger. Even surfing didn’t relax me in the first few months like it used to because I was so nervous about leaving the baby.
My struggle with Anxiety
I shared about my experience with anxiety in episode nine of the podcast, and how it came on strong during pregnancy and continued into the first year postpartum. This was something I had honestly carried with me most of my life, but that began to become more illuminated with the hormones and lack of sleep.
Obsessive tendencies like perpetual hand washing and keeping the baby away from germs began to creep into my life and started to overtake me. I loved this baby so much I was literally obsessed with protecting her. It became my mission. Trying to control every little thing the baby did and making moves to keep her safe became my life.
Where was the fun-loving, free, and active girl I once knew? Who was I now?
I would look in the mirror and see a different woman. I didn’t know it then, but the pronounced exhaustion and inability to let others help me was taking a toll on my health and vigor. It was an odd feeling being so in love with my baby, and so lost at the same time. I desperately needed to gather all of my creative particles, listen to that whisper of truth within me, and begin my Soul Mammas Community. This is why I started the show.
Since starting the show:
It took a while. Okay it took about a year and a half to make me realize that all of the pieces of myself I thought I was “losing” were actually being gained back, but in newer and more beautiful ways. It wasn’t easy to let go, but the more I stopped dragging my feet to resist change or try to go back to things I “used to do” the more I realized I loved this new version of myself so much more.
I finally got to take the focus off of ME, and in doing that, I learned more about myself than every before. When life revolved around satiating my own personal needs, I took it for granted. When I spent countless hours driving around looking for the best waves, or trying to tick everything off of my “to do” list, I wasn’t satisfied.
This version of my life is so much more exhausting, all-consuming and full on, but also taught me more about what I am capable of than ever before. Does that mean I have it all figured out and I completely accept everything with open arms and clarity? No way! I still fall back. But am also aware that that is just the state of motherhood-that beautiful play and pull between shedding layers and regaining new and stronger ones.