photo: Whitney Port
To say that childbirth changes your life may very well be the understatement of the century, if not history. Moms, you know what I’m talking about. There’s literally nothing on earth and no person in existence that can prepare you for the mental, emotional and physical changes that take place after giving birth. Even now, well over a year after having my baby, I can’t say that I’ve “recovered” because honestly, it just doesn’t feel like the right word. My journey hasn’t been about salvaging or returning to a previous life. It’s been about re-emerging as a new me: myself, as a mother.
For all intents and purposes, I consider myself a planner—not an obsessive one, but a planner nonetheless. I love to-do lists. I used to carry a day planner everywhere I went. I’m the type of person who likes to be prepared for things and to know what I’m getting myself into. But on the precipice of such a momentous event—materializing a HUMAN BEING out of my body—I knew that I needed to go in with a certain level of trust and flexibility. For this reason, I consciously decided not to have a birth plan.
“My doctor. My husband. And my family. I placed my wellbeing in their hands and willfully released control.”
I had spoken to so many mothers who had planned every detail and when things didn’t go as expected, they felt a great sense of fear or failure. I couldn’t stomach setting myself up for that kind of disappointment. Plus, the I-know-more-than-my-OB-GYN attitude was really unappealing to me, so I skipped the books and opinions and decided to trust the people I had chosen to take care of me. My doctor. My husband. And my family. I placed my wellbeing in their hands and willfully released control.
Hours into labor, I was given the choice to either keep pushing or have an episiotomy. With my newfound go-with-the-flow approach, I told my doctor to snip away because I was beyond ready to have that baby. Just to clarify: that was me agreeing to have someone cut part of my “vagina” to get this kid out. That’s no small commitment. But low and behold, with a scissor and one more push, our Sonny was born.
Cut to coming home from the hospital. Here I am, a new mom and so profoundly unprepared for how that would feel. This precious newborn relied on me for everything—for survival, literally—and the weight of that responsibility felt impossible to carry. Looking back, I’m not sure if I was struggling from postpartum depression or some other form of the baby blues, but it took a long time to escape the post-pregnancy blur. I remember feeling more overwhelmed than I’d ever felt in my life—like a truck had hit me. I barely ventured outside for three full months after my pregnancy and even then, it was only once a week for a baby class. The act of being out and about with this fragile little baby was petrifying, so I shut out the real world and stayed in the safety bubble of my home. Right or wrong, good or bad, it was what I needed to protect myself at that time.
I remember scrolling through Instagram, comparing myself to other moms who just *poof* went back to their regular lives in a matter of weeks. In hindsight, I wish I’d taken a break from social media altogether and not compared my journey to t