As long as I can remember I had always heard the stories you will never be the same after becoming a mother. I would always nod in approval and give a sweet smile and walk away. I did this for years. Little did I know.
I will share my story.
Not because it is mine, but because I believe many mothers have shared it as well. Our stories might be different, but we all have a common thread of vulnerability when it comes to being a mother for the first time.
I believe many mothers have experienced the same emotions, yet their stories remain untold. Untold for many reasons. I hope my story gives some of you a voice, or maybe even some comfort in the middle of those long nights. I am truly writing this from my heart. You are not alone.
I will start from the beginning.
From the time I was a little girl I was taught what many of us are, to push hard, to never quit, and always follow your dreams. It was embedded in me, and it is what I did. It was the only thing I knew. I knew how to achieve, not because I was naturally talented, it was because I didn’t know how to stop.
The evolving glass ceiling continued to rise in my twenties while I worked in corporate America, and when I tired of that career, I decided to follow my family’s tradition and become an Upper Cervical Chiropractor. I pushed hard and made big goals and before I knew it I had reached my dream. I had a waiting list practice and I was on top of the world. Or so I thought.
I will never forget that day.
My delivery lasted several days. I was exhausted and when the final call was made, I had to have a C-section I remember asking my Doctor one question, “How will this affect me going back to work?” That was what I was worried about.
After being in labor for 72 hours that was my one question. He never answered. All I remember is somewhat of a bewildered look on his face. That one question will forever be embedded in my mind. That was the last time I spoke of my career in that way.
I had no idea what was about to happen.
No goal, no career, no achievement could have ever prepared me for the flood of emotions I was about to feel. From the second they put her in my arms I changed. Looking back, I know in my heart two souls where born that day. One was my beautiful daughter and the other was mine. Prior to holding her I honestly do not think I felt or have ever truly lived.
What happened next was a blur.
Yes, the late-night feedings and the sleepless nights, but there was something else that was different. Something had awakened inside of me, yet I had become lost. My entire foundation of who I thought I was had been shattered.
I had never loved anything like I loved my baby girl, yet I remember always crying. I had become lost in a sea of emotions, pulling inward trying to gather myself. I remember telling myself over and over you can do this, however I realized everything I had been taught could not be applied.th
Just going through the motions.
On the outside I was able to hold it together, but on the inside, I was falling apart, not because I felt my life was ending but because I felt it was just beginning. My two worlds had literally collided. I remember sitting in darkness many nights as I fed her. I stared into the blackness literally trying to get a glimpse of light.
Something that could give me a direction. I so desperately wanted something to hold onto. I was looking for answers on the outside, yet I knew in my heart I would only find them inside my soul, yet I feared I was not strong enough to go that deep.
The next two years I literally existed.
I did go back to work, but I was never the same. I was lost. Yet, on the outside everyone saw this Doctor who had it all together. I had an amazing family, a healthy newborn baby and my dream practice. If only they knew. I cried most mornings as I left home. As I would pull out of the driveway I would feel this horrible knot in my stomach.
It was like I was leaving a part of my soul behind. I cried. I would cry those silent hot tears. The ones that just stream down your face. Many mornings I was late to work because I was sitting in my car trying to gather myself. Those first two years I felt like I was almost having an out of body experience. It could have been from the pure exhaustion, but I believe in my soul it was deeper than that. My world was different. My perspective had changed.
I decided to get help.
I went to counseling. I went to marriage counseling. I contacted my colleagues. I searched. I asked. I begged and pleaded. Yet, their answers were all the same. “It will get better with time. Everyone goes through this.” It was even suggested I shorten my hours. So, I did. I condensed my hours, but not my work load. (I would not suggest this to anyone.) I pushed because it is what I was taught to do. It is what I knew. I did not know how to stop. I wanted so desperately to be present in both worlds, yet I was unable to sustain the momentum.
I tried with all my might until my health began to deteriorate. I had to have three surgeries in a little over a year, yet I still pushed. I remember one day when I looked at myself in the mirror I did not recognize who was looking back at me. I had become a stranger in my own skin. I felt like I had lost control. My life had become a revolving door that never stopped, and never slowed down.
My prayers were finally answered.
It took almost a year for everything to fall into place, but it did. Along the way I was blessed with a gift. As I was desperately seeking for help, I came across a coaching program that allowed me to step back and breath. During that time it gave me personal insight and the strength and courage to make a change. I ended up selling my practice and I walked away.
I walked away from the expectations, the demands, the pressures, the stress. I was both physically and mentally exhausted. I was in official burnout. It was hard because many of those around me did not understand and therefore did not support my decision, yet I knew what I had to do. I raised my white flag, not in defeat but because I wanted to live and find my health again and be present with the biggest blessing I have ever received. My baby girl. My family.
I am grateful.
I am writing this only six months after I finally walked away. I have had some time to reflect and I am looking forward to more. This is my story. This is my journey. Becoming a mother changed me. It changed every part of my being. I am thankful for my sweet daughter and because of her I chose to slow down. I chose to live. I chose to see, and I chose to feel. You made me human and I will forever be thankful.
I am thankful for my decision.
It was hard and it might not be the answer for everyone, but if you are reading this and you find yourself being in a similar situation I want you to know you are not alone. I encourage you to dig deep, ask for help, and be true to yourself.