I dreamed of this for the last few years but I never knew what I would do once it happened. Would it even happen? Would I ever be able to be a mom? And if I did become a mom, would I be a good mom? Would I be able to provide for my kid(s)?
When my husband and I went to the reproductive endocrinologist we were blinded by high hopes and dreams of becoming parents. She assured us that if we stuck with her we would get pregnant, she also assured us that the goal was one healthy baby at a time. Well, she did get us pregnant during our second round of IUI (intrauterine insemination) after a surgery and quite a lot of monitoring appointments, but we were (I was) pregnant with twins!
Pregnancy was not necessarily terrible but it wasn’t enjoyable for me. I read about women who loved pregnancy so much, and even followed a few on Instagram. But for me, pregnancy wasn’t glamorous. Sure, I taught group fitness up until 37 weeks, and I didn’t have horrible morning sickness; I had nausea at the end but only threw up twice (excluding that morning I was rushed to the hospital for throwing up multiple times in a 6 hour span and became incredibly dehydrated), but I was incredibly uncomfortable. I gained 65lbs, which is a lot on my 5’0” frame.
Aside from the lack of glamor that came with pregnancy, I was incredibly excited to meet these two little people. To this day, over 6 months after their birth, I am still excited every single day to see them but let me tell you…. there are so many things that no one could have prepared me for. The funny thing is, if anyone tried to tell me anything before, I probably wouldn’t have listened. It’s funny how that happens right? Like we have to experience it ourselves regardless of how many people tell us.
The thing is, despite people talking about postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, no one talks about things like going back to work and leaving your baby(babies) with a nanny or at daycare. Some women experience serious depression immediately after their baby is born or comes home. Among many reasons is this feeling of loneliness. No one tells you how lonely becoming a new parent can be (and again, when they do, you don’t believe it). Something I did back before my children, when my best friend had her first baby, was step back from being as present in our friendship. I thought she needed time with her kiddo and I thought she would appreciate the alone time. What I didn’t realize was she needed me then, more than ever. We discussed this many times over the years but I never could truly grasp the feeling of need until I myself was in her shoes.
No one tells you how lonely it is as a new mom, but at least when the babies first come home you have people checking in on you. Recently we went to our 6 month appointment with the twins and the doctor, a new doctor we haven’t seen yet, asked me if I went back to work and how I was doing. She seemed to take a real interest in how I was but it didn’t go much further than that. It got me thinking about how the novelty of a new baby (or in my case, babies) wears off and people stop coming around to check on you. There’s always these milestones – you get pregnant, the world rejoices; you have the baby, the world rejoices; you come home from the hospital, people come in droves giving you food wanting to meet the baby(babies); but what about when you are required to go back to work?
Many women in the US know how I felt when at about 6 weeks postpartum my job started asking when I was coming back and then at 8 weeks when I went back. No one asked me how i was feeling or if they could help. Lots of people have asked me if we have help, but that hasn’t come with offers to help. Do we have help? Well, that answer to that isn’t yes but it isn’t no. My mom and my mother in law have both been incredibly helpful. My mom has come up to visit as often as she can to spend the day so we can get a little break, and my mother in law occasionally takes the kids so we can nap or helps us out the babies to sleep. But, did we or do we have help consistently? Unfortunately, our reality is that the twins care is the responsibility of my husband and I. Childcare in NY is extraordinarily expensive and it just doesn’t pay for me to work just so I can pay for it.
Going back to work, for me, like what I imagine it is like for so many women we just don’t talk about it, was extremely hard. I found myself crying to and from work. My husband gets anxiety when he is left with the twins. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually incredibly normal if you ask me, but it added a layer of stress that I can’t even begin to explain. I was unable to go back to work full time because of our lack of childcare and the schedule and availability that my job afforded. Due to circumstance I wound up back home only two months after trying to go back to work. Why is it that women are just expected to go back to work as soon as maternity leave is over? I can’t possibly be the only one who just isn’t the same after having kids.
My priorities have completely shifted. I no longer have the patience to deal with ridiculous complaints and things that just no longer seem important. I could never have anticipated the change in me. I mean, out of all of the things people have talked to me about, no one told me I would completely change. No one told me I would no longer find joy in what I was doing for a living and surely no one told me how going back to work would feel. Like someone literally cut a limb off of me. The emotional pain was equivalent to what I imagine the physical pain of a limb being ripped off would feel like. I often find myself feeling the pulse of my children, to feel my heart beating outside of my body. Is that weird? If it is, oh well. These two small humans need me, and what I guess I didn’t realize was that I need them.
No one really checks on you when you go back to work. They just expect you to be 100% back to who you were. As if no time has passed, as if nothing has changed. For me, that was impossible. The depression kicked in pretty quickly after going back to work. Honestly, I think that’s why it didn’t last. My dad and step mom came to help a few times, which I am so grateful for, but In order for me to succeed i needed an army to stand behind me and unfortunately I didn’t have one.