Growing up as the fourth of five kids, I always knew I wanted a big family of my own, too. I love that you can either be surrounded by love and connection (and fighting) or you can quietly slip away and there’s still so much chaos that no one will miss you. And I like to be ignored once in a while. Don’t you?
When my son was born in 2012 my husband and I were going through so much transition. He’d just started a business, we’d moved back from Colorado to Minnesota after six months traveling through South America, and we were buying a house so we moved in with my parents (which was easy and helpful – God bless them both).
I didn’t know it until my daughter was born two years later, but I was experiencing post-partum depression so heavily with my son. I was the first of most of my friends to become a parent, and I was stressed out, we were broke, I was working full-time running an after school youth program and I missed my boy.
When my daughter was born though, it got worse. Way worse. I quit my job, started a business with my sister, and was mentally unwell. In hindsight, I feel sad for the woman I was. I was reconciling so many things – my motherhood most of all.
I realized after I became healthier that I didn’t want to go through that again. It wasn’t good for my family, but more importantly – it wasn’t good for me. My husband and I decided we were all done making babies, and two it is. My two beautiful children. Makes my heart feel so full just thinking of them.
Though that feeling of letting go was wildly liberating, freeing, joy-filled, it included grief, too. I had to grieve who I thought I was. Who I thought I was going to be. That woman I had imagined wasn’t really me, and if to be her I had to be miserable I wouldn’t want to be her anyway, but there were other babies in my life I thought I’d mother, and so I had to let them go, too.
My dear friend miscarried her first babies last month. 23 weeks. She labored, delivered, and said goodbye within 48 hours. Her babies, Hudson and Harrison, are actually the inspiration for us donating 25% of proceeds to Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep this month.
Her grief is overwhelming, the loss unimaginable but real, the sorrow deep. She said something to me about the hours after the birth that was so relatable as a mother that I cannot stop thinking about it. She mentioned feeling so much peace when she held each of them and they lay on her chest, her heart beating on them.
I told her I knew the exact feeling. You don’t have to see them, spend years raising them, change a single diaper – motherhood is a feeling. A deep one, one with sorrow and love and joy and grief and loss and joy and such a surprising range of emotions that you could hardly ever keep track of them all.
I reconciled my own motherhood over time. And it’ll continue to happen. And I didn’t do it alone – I had a therapist, a really good anti-depressant (hallelujah!), a supportive network, and the will to go on.
Whatever your journey with motherhood is, and wherever its taken you or will take you, be so kind to yourself. You deserve the same grace you likely offer up freely to others.
We love you.
Amy + Allyssa
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