The dream of becoming a mother had always been close to my heart. The joy I felt when I discovered I was pregnant, nurturing that tiny life within, was indescribable. As the day of my son's birth approached, friends began asking if I was anxious about the impending changes. To be honest, I wasn't. I knew my world was on the brink of transformation, but the magnitude of that shift is impossible to grasp until it unfolds. Yes, I anticipated sleepless nights, but my mind was mostly consumed by the intoxicating vision of cradling my newborn, breathing in his scent, and holding him close.
Fast forward to three weeks postpartum. A dear friend knocked on my door, and as I met her gaze, tears welled in my eyes. We sat on the couch, and she gently inquired about my distress. I began to speak, sharing the overwhelming grief I felt as I watched my pre-motherhood self slip away, fading beyond reach—a farewell to the old me.
Yes, I remained the same person—same name, same home, same friends. Yet, everything felt different. Unlike my husband, I no longer prepared for work each morning. Instead, I spent my days in pyjamas, nursing on the couch, watching him leave for the day, knowing I faced a lonely stretch ahead. Guilt washed over me; I held my perfect, healthy baby, the one I had always longed for, yet I wasn't overjoyed. I was adrift in a sea of uncertainty and darkness.
But only weeks later, a shift began. A friend from my homebirth group invited us all to her home with our babies, offering, "Arrive whenever, leave whenever - I'm here all day, no rush". We brought food to share and gathered in her living room, forming a circle on the floor. Babies were breastfed and cuddled, birth stories were shared, and the unspoken camaraderie of first-time parents enveloped
us. Suddenly, I no longer felt lost. I felt like I belonged, exactly where I should be. Driving home, I was filled with an unexpected happiness. I'd done the same tasks I'd do at home, but within a shared space of mothers, it felt joyful and connected. Sleep deprivation became bearable, and I no longer faced motherhood's challenges alone.
With each outing, I nurtured my new self—the mother within me. Confidence grew as I ventured out more with my baby. Connecting with other mothers, I found myself savouring the experience. New facets of my identity began to emerge:
- A non-judgmental me, understanding that we're all doing our best.
- An assertive me, prioritizing with limited energy and time.
- A fiercely loyal me, advocating for others.
- A softer me, tender and supportive after enduring the darkest hours.
- A wiser me, truly understanding that everything is a season and this hard moment/day/week/month too shall pass.
- An efficient me. No one can hustle like a mother during her kid’s nap time.
- A spontaneous me. No longer able to plan every detail of my day, so instead having to learn to seize any good moment for some time in nature or connection with others.
- A stronger me. Finding strength to keep going when things feel unbearable. If you can birth, breastfeed, get up several times throughout the night, day after day after day, well you can do anything.
- A patient me, who has learned that I actually do have time to stop to watch the caterpillar on the leaf or drive around the block one more time to see the digger again because these things are really important to them.
- A human me who knows that there’s just no way to do this perfectly, but that just making sure my son feels loved will actually end up perfect enough.
The journey of motherhood is a transformative one. It rips us open and reshapes us, revealing dimensions of our identity we never knew existed.