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5 Things I Didn’t Expect About Motherhood

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You can read all the books and take all the classes, but nothing fully prepares you for parenthood. The number of new experiences you can have as a new parent is endless. So how could we possibly prepare for everything motherhood brings? 

As a professional who has worked with kids, I have been a caretaker of babies and children and an expert therapist to youth and families. I knew that caring for a new baby would come with some unexpected changes and experiences. But in the throes of new motherhood, I found myself wondering “Why didn’t I know about this before?”. 

Part of the answer to that question is that we as mothers often don’t have a safe space to talk about our struggles. Many of us silently wonder how unique our issues are. In the tiredness and vulnerability of caretaking for our child, we even blame ourselves for things going wrong.

It wasn’t until I started Googling my worries that I realized how common these experiences are. I found comfort in knowing that other moms were struggling with stuff – even if it wasn’t the same exact stuff. This taught me how much we as mothers need each other to survive. It also taught me the importance of speaking up about our experiences as mothers. 

So here are 5 unexpected experiences I’ve had so far in my journey of motherhood:

1. Postpartum Rage

As a pregnant and postpartum person, you hear a lot about postpartum depression. I even knew to look out for postpartum anxiety. But the postpartum rage (also known as postpartum anger or irritability) I experienced was unexpected. It brought about intense anger, irritability, and frustration. Many of us new moms end up taking that anger out on people around us, making an already trying time even more tense.

It was difficult to tell at first what was triggering my rage. Sure, lack of sleep didn’t help. And I knew my body was going through hormonal changes. But postpartum rage can also be triggered by relationship difficulties, physical pain, feeling touched out, and more. And it can happen in an instant. When you’re caring for a child, decisions have to be made quickly, and when things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to fly off the handle. Additionally, your baby may be temperamental, which can also put you on edge.

The most surprising part about postpartum rage, though, can be how conflicting the feelings of anger are. On one hand, you feel guilty for taking your anger out on others around you. At the same time, you feel entitled to your anger. Your world (and body) have been turned upside down, and you don’t have a second to breathe and adjust. You might feel unseen or uncared for. This sadness and hurt can quickly turn to rage in the postpartum period. 

2. Emotional Paralysis

An infant resting against a mom's chest, covered by a blanket with colorful prints. Becoming a mom is a life-changing experience. Consider joining an online support group in New Jersey to help with this transition.

When the world around us becomes overwhelming, we shut down. I knew that motherhood would bring about physical and emotional exhaustion, but I didn’t know that that could lead to feeling paralyzed. Emotional paralysis can be described as feeling numb, detached, and/or frozen. New mothers can experience emotional paralysis triggered by:

  • Trying to soothe baby: Your baby is crying and you’ll do anything on Earth to get them to stop. In those moments you wish you had a quick fix. You might desperately search Amazon for something that can be delivered tomorrow that will help. But when that (and the million other things you’ve tried) don’t work, you can end up feeling paralyzed and helpless.
  • Time management: There are so many things to do when you have a child at home. In those moments, everything feels important. With the limited time and energy you have, it’s difficult to separate what NEEDS to be done from what is going to feel good in the moment. This can make you feel frozen and unable to choose what to do next. Before you know it, your brief break is over and nothing got done.
  • Mindless scrolling: In between the crazy moments of new parenthood, it can honestly be pretty boring. Your baby might not be interacting much, so you’re left to entertain yourself. You might feel bored, especially while feeding. You’re too tired to think or do anything else in those moments. This can result in mindless scrolling, which often isn’t helpful when you’re trying to rest , recharge and recenter
  • Constant change: Parenting is all about stages and phases. It’s exhausting to simultaneously try to adjust to the present AND think about what stage is next so that you’re prepared. What do I need to get ready for this next stage? What size clothes will he need? How much money will that cost? Something as simple as putting away too-small clothes becomes too stressful to even think about. You end up frozen, unable to anticipate your and your child’s needs.

3. Information Overwhelm

Our access to endless resources via the internet can be a blessing and a curse, especially in parenthood. Resources like articles, YouTube videos, and Pinterest infographics can be so informative and validating. But when you and your baby are going through a difficult phase of growth, the immense amount of information out there can feel suffocating. 

Is it gas?

Is it reflux?

Should he be sleeping in that thing? 

How do I know how much to give him? 

What am I supposed to do if he won’t stop crying? 

I must be doing something wrong.

You might even get recommendations from friends and family, but because every baby is different, those suggestions might not work. And now you’re back to square one, crawling down the rabbit hole of Google searches. Any of us who have gone down that rabbit hole know the feeling – you don’t want to keep searching because you’re exhausted, but you have to keep reading because you need to find answers. It’s understandable to become overwhelmed with all the options out there. And it’s okay to take a break from the research and tap into your mom instincts for a bit instead.

4. Extreme Vulnerability

The process of birth, and the time after, is such a delicate and vulnerable time for moms. Giving birth often involves being highly exposed, both physically and emotionally, which can bring about extreme vulnerability and self-consciousness. 

An infant clasping a mom's finger with a soft blanket in the background, reminiscent of the warmth and unity found in an online support group in NJ. Call us to learn to find empowerment in motherhood.

I was surprised to find how helpless and fragile I felt at times. During and after birth, I had to rely so much on the nursing staff and my partner to do anything. I knew I wouldn’t be doing jumping jack right after giving birth, but I thought I would have so much more autonomy once I was in recovery. I was wrong.  There I was, with my recovering body exposed and in pain, attempting to use the bathroom, in front of a nurse that I met less than 3 hours ago. I’m thankful the nurses were caring and kind, but it didn’t take away the difficult feelings of being exposed. This vulnerability can make you feel helpless and dependent upon medical professionals for support and assistance during your most fragile time.

We as a society need to acknowledge how difficult it is for new mothers to be so physically out of control, and not only in the medical setting. What about in front of our partner, family, and friends? We often joke about the non-birthing partner’s horror at seeing a live birth. But what about the birthing person’s experience? Our loved ones have never seen us in such a delicate state. It can be awkward, uncomfortable, and scary. 

You might find that your most important relationships have changed because of these raw experiences. 

When it comes to your partner, you might find that the vulnerability has resulted in:

  • Fears about future intimacy/sex life
  • Concerns that the relationship will never be the same
  • Worries that your partner now sees you/your body differently
  • Self-consciousness about your partner seeing you naked post-birth

Other experiences that can trigger feelings of exposure include:

  • Hosting loved ones in your home
  • Going outside the house alone with the baby
  • Physically recovering in front of parents, in-laws, and friends
  • Asking for help so that you can do basic tasks, like showering

These experiences can make even the most confident, outgoing, and open person feel raw and uncomfortable. 

5. Having To Lean On My Village

I always thought “mom tribes” and the idea of “villages” were for moms who didn’t have family and friends around. Boy, was I wrong. Even with the support of my own mother, friends, and my individual therapist, I found I needed to connect with other moms. By talking with other moms who were going through the same difficult experiences of motherhood, I felt a sigh of relief. I hadn’t felt this kind of relief since giving birth. It was like I was no longer alone in this whirlwind. 

Even with family and friends around, motherhood can feel incredibly lonely. When this happens, the internet can be so helpful in finding valuable resources and new connections. One of the best ways to connect with other moms is through online group therapy in NJ. If you’re wondering how group therapy works, you can read more about that here.

Three women using a laptop on a wooden table, talking about how helpful it can be to join a mom support group online in New Jersey. Contact us today to learn more about our Braving Motherhood group for moms.

Searching online is one of the best ways to find a mom support group online in New Jersey. Here are some other words you can use when searching online for the right group for you:

  • Groups for moms NJ
  • Mom groups near me
  • Mom support groups NJ
  • New mom groups near me

Remember, we were never meant to do this alone. Finding your NJ mom tribe is possible when you take the first step.

Join An Online Moms Group in NJ

The topics covered in mom support groups in NJ are driven by your needs as a mother. Topics of discussion for online moms support groups in New Jersey can include:

If you’re located in New Jersey and are ready to receive support for motherhood, we’re ready to help. Our NJ postpartum specialist Jessica Pizzo, LCSW, PMH-C, runs a group for moms in NJ who want to feel empowered in their parenting.

Next group starts April 10th, 2024

Connect with our Scheduling Team at 908-242-3634 ext 1 or Connect@BraveMinds

Receive Parenting Help in Scotch Plains, NJ, Branchburg, Westfield, and Beyond

If you are struggling with parts of motherhood you may have been underprepared for, a trained therapist can help you so that you can feel empowered to parent in the way that you envision! Start your therapy journey with Brave Minds by following these simple steps:

  1. Contact us for a free video consultation.
  2. Learn more about our Postpartum Therapy and Maternal Mental Health Services
  3. Start being the best parent you can be!

Other Services Offered With Brave Minds Psychological Services

Parenting support isn’t the only service offered by Brave Minds Psychological Services. Our team is happy to provide a variety of mental health services to support adultsteens, and children. We offer counseling for parents along with postpartum counseling, and birth trauma therapy. We also offer teen anxiety treatmentsocial phobia therapy for teenschild sexual abuse therapychild anxiety treatment, and more. If you are wanting to connect with peers going through similar struggles we offer several options for group therapy. Our services are offered in person at our Scotch Plains and Branchburg, NJ offices and through telehealth counseling in New Jersey.

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