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It's Totally Normal to Not Find Peace As a New Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

The feelings I thought I would experience after becoming a new mom seemed to miss me.

I expected them to come as I held my newborn babe on my chest trying to nurse him for the first time. I felt love for him — tremendous love — but instead of that all-encompassing "my world is complete now" sensation that I thought for sure was going to grab a hold of me, I was unsettled, uncomfortable and missing my life before he came into it.

I'd never known an intensity such as this, but "peaceful"? I felt anything but. The first time he took a long nap and I was able to sit on the sofa, stew in my hormonal juices and take a breather, it didn't come.

The first time I was able to pull on non-maternity clothes, get him in the stroller by myself, go for brisk walk, get my heart rate elevated and take in the fresh air, I still felt its absence. That peaceful feeling I'd so longed for wasn't coming to me, no matter how far I reached for it.

Where was it?

When people would stop by to hold him and I wiggled next to them on the sofa, trying to get comfortable in this foreign body that had been through birthing a child, and I watched them hold him in a way that wasn't quite right, feeling he was too far away from me, I tried hard to take in the moment of him bonding with family and friends, but no peace was found.

As he turned 2 months old and the holidays were rushing in — a time of year I'd always adored — I was hoping for something. I wanted to settle into myself a bit. I wanted this new world of being a mom to coexist with the old feelings I used to have about life: getting excited about a long drive, the smell of a candle, getting lost in a good book or trying a new recipe.

I was able to do some of these things when he was sleeping or my husband was home, or when my mom would come over and walk with him around the house, but every time, I was so aware that my life was different now and that peacefulness I'd often felt before I had him wasn't coming around anymore.

Until it did.

It will come, I promise — probably when you least expect it.

He was almost 3 months old and it was Thanksgiving night. We'd arrived home from my mom's house after celebrating the day with my sisters and their partners. It was fun, but not the kind of satisfaction I used to feel during a day spent with my family laughing, eating too much pie and watching a funny Christmas movie with food spread before us.

Nothing felt the same anymore.

I told myself I needed more sleep and protein, and to not expect this motherhood thing to surrounded by magic and feelings of joy. I loved my son like I never loved another human being, but I was also a very different person than I was before I birthed him.

He was sleeping and I peeled him out of his blue, fleece snowsuit. I sat on the sofa in my dark living room to give him his last feeding of the night. I tilted my head back to look at the candles I propped in the windows the day before, while he napped in his cradle. My husband called his family to wish them a happy Thanksgiving, his voice quiet so he wouldn't disturb our son.

This was now our new normal: lowering our voices and the TV and not turning on any lights at a very early hour. I closed my eyes as my son was half-suckling my breast, and it came, starting in my head and trickling down my chest until I felt it spread to my belly and legs: the peaceful feeling I thought I'd be overcome with after becoming his mother finally came.

That was almost 16 years ago and I'm still not sure how or why it came to me in that moment. Maybe it was because I stopped trying so hard. Perhaps it came because I wasn't expecting it.

All I know is that sliver of peace might take a while to find you after you're a new mom. Just know it's normal. There's nothing wrong with you feeling so unlike yourself that you'd give anything to have a sense of contentment with your new life.

It will come, I promise — probably when you least expect it.

I can tell you after having three kids, those moments will start coming more often through the years.

But then those moments will leave you and you will crave them again, especially during a new stage or life change. You will wonder if they will ever show their face again, despite the fact you have no idea what you are doing.

And — just like that — they will find you. Again and again, they will show up to remind you this new life of yours shows you peace and contentment in a totally different way, and your wouldn't trade it for anything.

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