By: Angela Flores
It is oversaid, “Having a child changes everything”. Becoming a mother was definitely more than I thought it would be and I needed help. My life changed dramatically and learned that I needed to adapt.
Quick backstory- I lived alone throughout my whole pregnancy and without any help financially. Working 40 hours a week was very tough and took a toll on me physically as I had to be on my feet all day. I desperately needed help in a lot of aspects. Yet, my hidden anxiety and depression deprived me to admit that I needed help. Maybe it was the years of trying to present myself in this “ I got this” persona, my toxic relationship or refusing to fail personality. Nonetheless, it didn’t matter. What did matter—I needed help.
All my planning, research and hearing other experiences, went down the drain when I held my baby for the first time. Thoughts rushed in my head- “oh my god, she is so small!”, “she can’t stop crying!”, “I can’t comfort my own baby!”. I did my best as naturally as I could. Yet, still kept my troubles quiet.
Everything snapped when I had to breastfeed. Here I am, picturing a mother nurturing her baby, just like the movies or high-quality Instagram photo. As I held my daughter, it finally hit me: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. Just like that, without a second thought, I asked all the questions I could possibly could think of. Besides pushing my daughter out after 2 hours, I’ve never felt more empowered. Deciding to breastfeed gave me some power back. I was able to successfully breastfeed without any formula. Now, I do not believe formula is wrong. It’s a great choice and option for babies. Fed is best. It took a lot of help, late nights of constant and tiredly pumping, being able to yes to help allowed to achieve this goal. To me, this was a primeval moment when I got the courage and asked for help. Being quiet, keeping to myself, and not bothering anyone wasn’t what I aspired to be anymore.
I got my rhythm with breastfeeding. This learning journey started the moment when I embraced her in my arms. I asked any doctor who would come to check up on me. I listened to anyone with advice and tips such as my family and momma friends.
Once I felt comfortable, something new changed and had to adapt again with her rapidly growing. It’s like learning on the job. Every milestone came with it’s unique challenges. (Who knew feces changes so dramatically from one day to another??!) The hardest thing that came with motherhood was pushing myself to speak up. The lingering effects of trying to overcome my toxic relationship stayed. The guilt, manipulation and abuse played a huge role in anxiety and depression. Being a single mother, was once by biggest fear. I didn’t think I could ever be strong enough nor love my baby enough. Yet, when my daughter turns around and smiles, I am filled with pure joy and love and I’m relieved in how wrong I was.
Hearing the advice from the strong woman in my life, my mother and grandmother, helped me with that once crippling fear and old thoughts. My anxiety kicked into high gear when I returned back to work at 4 months post-partum. However, both my mother and grandma are literal angels from heaven as they aided me in every step-in motherhood. I was assured that she ate fine despite her refusing to be bottle-fed. She was spoon-fed with her grandmothers and very much happy. Some days when I felt very overwhelmed, either one of them took care of my infant daughter as I simply went to Target or went to the laundromat. Going on small trips like that, gave me relief and became part of my self-care. I got rid of some of the weights on my shoulders and was happier. Doing small outtings like this made me think to myself “what else?”
I went to work knowing my daughter was being taken care of by someone who loved her so much, went to therapy, and did the occasional garage afternoon Zumba with my aunt. All these things allowed me to be more open in asking for help.
My precious little baby, a real dream come true. Of course, I would want to give her the best. So, I had a new mantra, “better me, better momma”. And to be a better me, it started with accepting help. For years, the bottle of withholding my emotions kept being pushed down more and more. Yet, I wouldn’t dare to say out loud that I needed a lending hand. I felt no one understood what I felt nor was it valid enough for anyone to hear. Anxiety and depression hit me more when I gave birth. I felt alone. But it wasn’t about me anymore, that would be selfish. I had a little one who needed me and pushed me to get the help that I needed.
Cheers to that!
Although I have my days where I am in a funk, the look on my daughter’s eyes makes me smile and reminds me that’s its ok to ask for help and I’m not any less of a mom. I waited years for my life to change to and it did. My daughter brought life back to me and is the reason to push myself to be better. How lucky am I?
I hope my story helps you find a voice to ask for help or reach out and accept help when it’s offered!
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