Now I already know how this will turn out, some people will relate to the whole 9 yards of this blog. Then there are going to be others who don’t and will need to feel the urge to point it out. Either way is fine with me! I’m never going to relate to 100% of other moms and that’s okay. It isn’t ok however to make any mom feel less than for feeling differently than you. If our goal is always for our kids to be as happy and as healthy as can be, then maybe we aren’t so different after all? So here goes my feeling on motherhood and what I absolutely loved and what I also didn’t love in the beginning. Each of our stories are different and unique and will never all look the same. So with that in mind, I’ll share my experiences with my first kid and how my mental health took a toll over everything.
Becoming a mom at 18 isn’t something I could exactly recommend, especially these days. Back then it was a little more common for girls to have kids at a younger age, and especially with hispanics. So with that said, it was super tough for me in 2007, right around the time the T.V. show Teen Mom had started. I used to watch that show religiously and all I can remember thinking was that I could totally relate, and also thinking my life had more drama than them, not something Im proud of now of course. Now being in my thirties, if I were to go back and watch the original seasons I would see it completely different. I think I would immediately see all the mental health issues that no one really pointed out then. It may have been mentioned but not really talked about as much as they should have, in my opinion. After my son, being a teenager still, I was very overwhelmed with everything. I was obviously not prepared for taking care a of a baby all night and day and my whole world changing, in what felt like overnight. I was used to going out, hanging out with friends, going to dances, the movies, and just riding around whenever I wanted and could. To being at home, day in and day out, feeding, changing, burping, bathing, repeat, for months. I went from living at home where my mom did everything for me, to living with a guy, and a baby where they depended on me. I was not prepared. Then it happened, depression hit, and it hit hard.
You see pregnancy changed my hormones, my physical appearance, and my mental thinking. Then after the baby, my hormones, physical appearance, and mental thinking changed even more. So much that I was angry all the time, frustrated, sad, unhappy, scared, and all of the above, daily. I didn’t realize what I was feeling, I just figured my life sucked and that I was stuck in a situation that I had gotten myself into. I didn’t feel like I had the support I needed and that I was completely alone in all of it. I was home alone all the time with a baby that I wasn’t even sure If I knew I was taking care of him correctly. During this time I was lonely, empty, depressed, and didn’t even realize it. My friends were nowhere to be found, because they were still in school, just being teenagers. I was jealous, and unhappy about my situation. I was being selfish, and worried about my relationship more than my baby. Not purposely, but honestly how was I supposed to know better at that age? I didn’t take my doctor seriously when they mentioned taking something for depression, why would I take pills when there was nothing wrong with me? It wasn’t me with problems it was the other person, or him, or her, but not me. I was worried about what was and wasn’t fair, and how I felt I was the only one sacrificing. Why was I stuck at home all the time? Why did I feel unhappy? Why did I have to endure birth and my body change and feel disgusted with myself? I needed my mom, I needed more support, I needed to be told I could get help, I needed to feel like I hadn’t lost the person I was.
Even through all of these things that I was struggling with, I had so many great moments of looking at my son and thinking, he’s mine. I grew a whole person inside of my belly, and gave birth and here he is. It was a feeling that would give me hope most of the time. I looked at him alot and never wanted to forget how he looked sleeping. I wanted to imprint his face in my memories forever, and his little feet, and his littler fingers. Everything about him was precious to me. I knew I loved him, that part was never a question to me. I never wanted anything bad to happen to him. I hated when he would get ear infections often and ran fever. I never wanted to see him crying of pain. It wasn’t fair to me, why did he have to go through these things so young, when he couldn’t communicate with me. I had some good days and it was a great feeling like I was capable of doing it all. I felt like I had a purpose being a mom and raising a son. Everything he did was precious and perfect to me. He was so innocent and so fragile. I knew then what my parents felt all those times I disappointed them. I was their baby, they raised me and nurtured me, and even as I grew, I would always be their baby. I saw that now, I knew that no matter what I would always see a baby in him. I would always remember how little he was and that I took care of him. He was a piece of me and always would be. He would forever be a part of my life and always be my first born. He made me mad most of the time as he grew but I still loved him more than anything. No one could make me laugh like he did. His little smile could make everything disappear in that moment. He was my son, my child, my gift, and my everything.
Then here came all of the negative emotions again, and just like that, all the good would fade and I would be mad that I felt alone again. You see, feeling irritable, angry, sad, unmotivated, lonely, they were all signs of something imbalanced in my brain. Something I didn’t have control over in that time, but I didn’t know. It ruined a lot of things for me and I feel like my son got the worst of it. It wasn’t his fault he was brought into the world, or that I was feeling this way. He deserved a mom that was capable of being what he needed all the time. He deserved both parents being there for him all the time. I wanted to be like other moms that seemed to have it all together. The ones that would take their kids outside and play, and do projects with, or even read to. I didn’t do these things because I was still busy trying to find myself, I felt like I did the minimum for him. I fed him, took him to the doctor when needed, he had clean clothes and roof. If I were to be completely honest though, my parents were more like parents to him than I was. It came natural to them of course, they had been through it already and a knew how to appreciate such a gift. I yelled a lot, got mad daily at him, had little patience, and was more irritated with him than happy. I regretted it every night, yet the next day I would do it all over again. I wasn’t ready to be a mom, not just because I was young, I’ve seen young moms that are great at parenting. I wasn’t ready because I didn’t know how to adapt, I didn’t take advice, I didn’t do what was necessary not just for me, but for those who depended on me. I didn’t do more, I just did enough. You learn as you grow and I had a lot of growing to do still. I wasn’t the worst parent, but I also felt like a bad mom.
It took me a long time to see that I was doing the best for what I knew. That’s all most of us do right? What we think is best at that time. We learn a lot with experience, and with time. I had more kids and still didn’t feel like I was fit enough or ready. You will never be ready, there’s so many things that books and articles can’t teach you. Even all the advice in the world can’t prepare you for having a baby. Not everyone experiences postpartum depression, or even depression ever in their lives. To those people, Im seriously so glad that you haven’t had to deal with mental health issues. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. With that said, I hope that just because you haven’t dealt with it, you don’t judge, make fun of, or ridicule those who have. It isn’t easy to feel bad about yourself, and then have others purposely make you feel worse. If you don’t understand something, you don’t have to, but it doesn’t take much to at least be kind to others. Moms have a lot on their plate, and enough eyes on them, judging their every move. We can cut some slack, especially if you can see that a mom is doing her best with what she has. Mental Health issues are real, and scary. So if you are struggling, you are not alone! I have gone to the doctor and I have seen a counselor. Even then, I stopped medication and stopped seeing a counselor, because it’s a daily struggle and I have up and downs. I acknowledge my issues and struggle still with getting help, but it’s a process and I am always trying to do better. I hope that anyone who feels stuck, can pull themselves out and find what they need to feel better. It’s not easy and we have to be able to help one another.