“Motherhood is my fire and my flood.”
When I first heard that statement while interviewing a woman for The Mama Sagas, it took my breath away. It rang so true.
Motherhood has a crazy way of building you up and breaking you down, all at once.
It’s full of contradictions: there are moments of complete despair followed by moments of heavenly bliss. There are days when you feel lost, and days when you feel like Supermom… Who am I kidding – usually both of those feelings happen in the same day, back to back to back and back again. It’s one hell of a roller coaster ride, and when you’re a new mom experiencing all of this for the first time, it’s hard to tell if A) you’ve completely lost your mind, B) it’s just the hormones, or C) this is really how it’s always going to be.
When I was a first-time mom, I got about three weeks into it – with no sleep and a baby who was tongue-tied (though I didn’t know it at the time) – until I had my first breakdown.
I left my baby at the house with my husband and drove to TJ Maxx, of all places, to wander. I started calling every mom I knew, that I was close to, begging them to tell me it got easier. “So, wait, when will I actually get to sleep again?” I asked everyone. I pleaded silently that they would give me the answer I wanted to hear.
I could hear each of my friends and sisters-in-law and cousins smile through the phone, and apologetically reply with some variation of, “There’s no real answer to that question…. But it does get easier, I promise.” But there were no concrete answers. No magic formulas.
For me, it seemed like the 3’s were always the hardest times: 3 weeks postpartum, 3 months postpartum, 6 months and 9 months.
At each of those junctures, I felt my hormones shift, my threshold for exhaustion deteriorate, and my confidence waiver. Of course, I’m sure if you ask any other mom, she probably has a different experience. But the one thing I have heard from EVERY mom I’ve talked to is how blindsided they felt by new motherhood. How it didn’t match their expectations. How they were so in love and yet so lost and felt like they must be the only one experiencing that double- edged sword of elation and isolation.
The fog started to lift a year after my daughter was born, and I was able to reflect on all of it. After a decade working in health and wellness, I was shocked by how little we were told about how our bodies heal and function in the postpartum period. After my good ‘ol boy boss told me my pregnancy was “reason to never hire another woman,” I was angry so many women had to go back to jobs where they were not supported and not fulfilled. I was amazed at the lack of affordable childcare options and not surprised that so many women chose to forego their career aspirations because it just didn’t make sense financially. And after struggling to breastfeed and supplementing with formula, I couldn’t believe women didn’t have more help when we left the hospital.
But I was also inspired: inspired by all the women who were figuring things out and making -ish happen on their own terms.
I was inspired by the mamas who started their own businesses, the doulas and lactation educators and doctors who were serving new moms as a labor of love, because it was so desperately needed. I was inspired by the community of women who rallied to support me – some of whom I had never met before – when I was at my lowest. I was inspired by the stories I heard of love and loss, of poop and microwaving their coffee three times, of finding the humor in the moments when all you want to do is cry.
So I started The Mama Sagas – to air our stories and share our solutions. Motherhood changes us – but it doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. It can be an opportunity to realize our true strength, our resiliency, our passion and our purpose. Still, it’s hard to do that when you’re peeing your pants. So we start here: giving new moms the resources, information and tools they need to feel like they GOT this.
And you do. You GOT this, mama. I hope the information in the Better After Baby app helps you on your journey. I hope you’ll join us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for more support and expert information. And reach out to me personally, if you like, via my own Facebook page. I’m happy to connect with mamas who need support, a snarky comment, a friend, or just a good laugh.
Welcome to a life that is Better After Baby. We’re in it together.
Saralyn Ward is an award-winning writer, wellness advocate, and mountain mama. She is the founder of The Mama Sagas, writes for several publications and hosts a regular parenting TV segment on Colorado's Everyday Show. When she's not huddled over edits, you're likely to find Saralyn climbing peaks or skiing down them, and reminding herself that the two little girls that call her mom are not the boss of her.