Becoming a mother, without my mother was something I thought would never happen to me or any of my younger sisters. It’s something I never imagined I would experience given the relationship my mom and I had.
My mom and I were best friends. I confided in her about everything going on in my life and always relied on her insight to get me through life. We would talk for hours while I wandered across campus in college. I could call her in a grocery store emergency and ask her what aisle I could find peanut butter. I could ask her questions about sex, alcohol, and bodily functions and always get an honest answer. We would talk about summer trips and hikes to go on, what crafts we wanted to try to make this year, and boy troubles. When I thought about my future and having my own little family, my mom was always in the picture spoiling her grandbabies and always offering to babysit. Little did I know what would transpire in three years after starting to date my now husband.
As soon as Ryan came into my life I started to rely on him more and more. He became my person and my mom was on the sideline watching. She didn’t like Ryan and she always made sure to say some sort of negative thing about him when I would tell her about our latest date or adventure. Ryan picked up on it instantly and kept telling me about it. I naturally stood up for my mom and said he was imagining it. Now that I have the hindsight of the situation, she knew he was going to be the one to take me away from her.
Fast forward almost three years. During which Ryan and I had really become best friends and our relationship was very strong. One winter weekend, Ryan got down on one knee and proposed to me. We had left our puppy with my mom that weekend so we could stay in Breckenridge with some friends, and I was so excited to see my mom and tell her the news. What should have been a joyous reaction was not. She seemed upset about it, even angry. My stepdad was not impressed either. It was not the reaction I was ready for at all. I thought for sure she would be on board for wedding planning and figuring out the perfect venue, food, dress… all of it.
Well four weeks after Ryan purposed we found out that we were pregnant. This pushed up our wedding planning by three months, and we had to scramble to see if we could still get some of our deposits back. Everyone was excited about a baby, others were maybe not too thrilled on the timing or the lack of control we were able to exhibit before the wedding. However, my mom turned into the know it all about pregnancy (she has had 4 babies) and knowing the sex of my future baby and constantly touching my belly throughout the whole thing. She was more excited about my baby than my wedding. (Which makes sense when you look at her marriage record)
From January 2014 to July 2014, a lot of things happened with my mom. She started to become more needy, complaining about her husband more, needing more time with friends to party, and creating unnecessary drama just to maintain my attention. She told lies or just didn’t tell people what was really going on. It was like something in her snapped. By the time the wedding had rolled around, I was so fed up with her I could barely make it through assembling flowers with her let alone have her keep telling me I was going to have a boy. (She was proven very wrong during our cake cutting where we did the gender reveal)
In September of 2014 I thought maybe once Addy showed up she would straighten out. Nope. She would come down and spend the night to help me out every now and then, but in October or November she came down with a frozen meal for us and then proceeded to say she was staying a friends house for her birthday party. The next day I called the house to see what the instruction were for cooking the meal she left only to find out that she wasn’t home and my step dad thought she was still with me. Come to find out she was having an affair and that weekend she used my newborn baby girl to lie about where she was to her husband. Addy was maybe a month and a half old.
That is when I lost my mom. I lost the one person I needed the most to help me through this crazy journey of motherhood. Want to know what she did next? She moved. Out of state. Just packed up and left her two younger daughters, and left her oldest daughter (a new mother) to figure out life on their own without a mom.
My heart hurt constantly after I found out she used Addy in her lies. I cried all the time. I didn’t know what to do with an infant. Ryan was working an hour and a half away so I was alone most of the time. I had milk issues and was stuck near pump all day long. I have a history of depression and with my hormones still all out of whack, my depression sucked me into the deep scary waters of postpartum depression. I had thoughts about running away and not staying to take care of Addy anymore. I had thoughts about quitting at everything in life because I didn’t know how to move forward. I didn’t want to admit I was having these thoughts for fear of being a bad mom until one day I was trying to do a workout and I broke down crying in the middle of my room and couldn’t stop.
I called the nurses line that night and got the help I needed and I was put on antidepressants. Once those started to take effect and help me see a little bit more clearly, I was able to find other first time moms or experienced moms to seek advice from. I took solace in my step mom and one of my sister in laws. I reached out to find mom groups both in person and online. I finally felt like I was becoming a mom and like I could participate in the joy that is my daughter’s life.
I still had the demons of the pain my mother caused me. She never owned up to her mistake, called me names in the process, and made me doubt the relationship we ever had. I have had to learn the ins and outs of who I am without her as well as the type of mom I am without her guidance. It has been a hard journey to walk through and there have been times where I have wanted to cave in and just let her back into my world. My husband has supported my decisions with my mom and always talked me through my thoughts. He has been my biggest support in all of this and helping me be the best mom I think I know how to be.
So while it hurts still to see others post about their moms on facebook, see moms and daughters in public, or even just hear stories about what a friends mom does for them and their baby… I am making it through on my own and with my people I know won’t take advantage of my family. I have found the people I needed most on this rocky road to becoming a mom without my mom, and I feel more confident in my ability to be a mom then I did before my mom existed my life. I feel more confident in my marriage knowing she has no influence over it. It’s doable to be a mom without your own mom in your life, hard yes, but find people that make you want to be the best mom to your kids and not the mom that has conditions on their love.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from postpartum depression, please ask for help. It is not a state of mind you want to mess with, but know that so many women suffer postpartum depression. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control states 11 to 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. If you took an average of 15% of four million live births in the US annually, this would mean approximately 600,000 women get postpartum depression each year in the United States alone. Please know you aren’t alone.
Resources for help:
Signs,Symptoms, and Treatment: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/postpartum-depression-and-the-baby-blues.htm
Postpartum Depression Support Organizations by region and state: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-depression-support-organizations-in-the-us-canada-uk-south-africa-australia-new-zealand
Postpartum Depression Recourse site: http://www.1800ppdmoms.org/