May 10, 2017

An (almost) Mother's Day Tribute to my MamaTribe.

This month was mental health awareness month, and a few weeks ago was specially noted as maternal and postpartum mental health awareness.  Now, even five years removed from the hardest days with Sienna, I still sometimes feel hesitant about discussing those heavy times. They were days of adjustment and they were so arduous. Being a new mom was tiring, and anxiety provoking, and I vividly remember the tears streaming down my face in the shower from pure exhaustion and confusion as week six of Sienna's life approached- on the edge of the return to working life, both craving the feeling of using my brain and problem solving and eating lunch alone and dreading the reality of being away from my new beautiful baby. My mom, of course, knew me better than myself, and made sure to take really good and gentle care of me. You know how they say children need one consistent loving caregiver? So do new moms. My mom was mine. My mom friends who knew about how hard newborn days were comforted me,  but I didn't know what exactly was going on in the process. In retrospect it was postpartum anxiety. See, I wasn't depressed; I wasn't feeling sad or wishing away my baby; I was just lost and overwhelmed. If the clock hit 2:16 and nap time was supposed to start at 2:15 I unraveled. If I had to wake up an extra time or two at night, I spent hours thinking about what could possibly be wrong (to be fair, my friends and I still send ridiculous texts of this variety, and just last week I exhaled, laughed, and said to a fellow mama- this is so crazy, we never actually know what's going on), and I had most gorgeous chunky baby ever but it didn't prevent me from struggling. I was. I did. And then it passed. The sun came out and the clouds parted and around six months, Sienna and I found our groove together and became best buddies; we haven't turned back. 

Then, summer of 2014 rolled around, and I had a second kiddo. I learned my weaknesses and knew how to navigate the rocky waters of the early days- and when the rocky waters were becoming sink holes. I saw that therapist when Piper was refusing to nurse. I said yes to Zoloft in the early months. I had a lactation consultant at my house at 9pm when feeding was going terribly wrong. I made appointments, I got out of the house. I let my husband hold the baby even when she was crying and put in ear plugs and took naps. I juggled two babies better than I did one. I pumped at I accepted meals.I accepted help. I accepted breaks when I needed them. I still worried, I still felt the edginess creeping up, but I used the best tools I knew to get it back down. 

And then... there was this tool I wasn't expecting that fell into my lap even more the second time around. Three of my friends from grad school had babies close to when I had Piper, and our group text, fondly named "3AM Nursers" rose to the top of my scrolling list every day. I joined a local mom's group. I forged friendships. I talked about things honestly. I listened to other moms' struggles. It felt normal. So... normal. These people held my baby, brought me food, called to check on me, delivered Starbucks and brought me new nursing bras. They amused Sienna when she was adjusting to this whole bizarre new big sister role. They reached out far more than I expected or deserved. The best part is- They STILL do this. Two and a half years into motherhood 2.0, these people haven't backed down or let up. I formed this mom tribe, and I continue to pluck people into this circle of women to join as I go along. It is amazing that when I send a text saying I need a break, or complaining about something that happened, I get one back quickly and promptly, likely fired off while holding a baby in their arms and cooking a meal... to the tune of "Don't worry, my kid ate eggos with marshmallows for breakfast", "Whatever preschool you choose will be the best", "My nanny was late too- and so was I".... and the most honest diatribes via the tap-tap-tap of fingers on the iphone arriving to my message inbox, "I yelled and now I feel bad", "I think i need more sleep before I lose my mind", "There's vomit all over me"... or simply "me too". 

Mom tribes are not only important, in my (short) motherhood experience, they've been this essential piece I never knew I was missing until I built it. I am confident that at any of the twenty four hours in the day, I can reach someone in this circle. By text, by phone, by FB post. They are there. They are at my fingertips. They are in the trenches with me, rolling to cover me as a proverbial explosion goes off, and giving me their hand to pull me up in the aftermath, all while wiping off their own dirt. So during this mother's day week, I say to all you mama friends out there- you surely know who you are. I love you, I appreciate you, I am eternally grateful for you. I hope you're spoiled and celebrated. I know how hard you work and you deserve it. 

And thank you, from the tips of my toes to the lengths of my fingertips for making motherhood better. I'm humbled to surround myself with you. 

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