When Shit Got Real

Two years ago today. This is the photo I posted that spurred me on to start showing my real self - my whole self - on social media; which, of course, led to a gamut of changes I set into motion in my life over the course of the following months and years. I opened up my Instagram feed to the public, I started writing and advertising my blog, and I participated in the 4th Trimester Bodies Project and later in Deedee Morris's We Are The Wild photodocumentary, all in the name of putting my raw and vulnerable self out there in hopes of reminding one, two, or maybe even dozens or hundreds of mothers that none of us is alone in our struggles through parenthood. 

September 17, 2013:

People normally only post pictures of their best selves but last night Margot was up at 7:15pm, 7:40pm, 10:15pm, 11:15pm, 11:50pm, 1:30am, 2:30am, 4:10am through to 5:40am, 6:30am, and up for the day at 7:30am. And I'm sick and I'm alone and I so badly want to throw in the towel but I keep sneezing and using it to blow my nose so make no mistake about how I look today. Happy Tuesday, everyone! May you count your blessings no matter what they look like.

I got tired of being so caught up in putting my best foot forward online when in reality I was experiencing things like extreme sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, and the gamut of those overwhelmed feelings that came like an onslaught to me as a first-time mum. I was struggling intensely, clambering to stay above water, and failing hard.

Those early days with a baby were so difficult - I suspect they always are, always have been, always will be, no matter how "easy" someone's baby is. The transition is always going to knock a person flat. And I was certainly no exception; Margot gave me a run for my money when it came to things like sleep (none) and reflux (aplenty). I spent every day for months leaking tears and leaking milk, and swimming through a fog of postpartum hormones. Anybody who's experienced this knows how all-powerful those hormones are; how cumbersome, how fierce, how driven they are; it's a wonder we all make it through this alive. Throw into that mix the confusion around breastfeeding, fierce hunger and thirst, a body you no longer recognize as your own, indistinguishable and indiscernible newborn cries, healing from childbirth, bleeding, and countless other challenges I (and so many others) rose up to, and oh, it's such a wonder to me how any of us make it through any of this standing on two feet. Unscathed we certainly are not, changed we absolutely are, and bolstered through time, love, and a profoundly superhuman capacity to forge on, we as mothers are no doubt a force to be reckoned with. 

Because the reality is, things gets better. I look at this picture, see the exhaustion in my eyes, the desperation all over my face, and I feel so strongly for the me that sat there flopped on my bed in the pajamas that I didn't get out of for months. This picture pains me to look at - it almost brings me to tears - except I'm so grateful for its existence; for its purpose and its reminder to me of how things were, and for how things get better. 

Because the fog lifts. It lifts! It does. 

Not for a moment will I ever say that parenting has gotten easy, because it's a challenge every day; but oh, how it does get better! Some days still I flounder, while others I swear I've got helium balloons pinned to my shoulders. Life as a mother is a beautifully challenging and wondrous thing. 

So, here I take a moment to pay homage to this day two years ago, to this photograph, to this seemingly never-ending moment (one long and arduous moment dripping in tar and encased in concrete) that I was trapped in for months. I'm so forever indebted to that part of me that was lying deep within myself - the one that said a royal "Fuck It" to social norms because I couldn't stand for another minute to be insincere online. No more platitudes, no more placating the people in my friend group who might be offended by me dropping the F-bomb, by a glimpse of my boob with a human barnacle affixed to it, or by a picture of a screaming, teething baby accompanied by a shot of me with tiny-human barf all over my freshly-washed hoodie. 

Because shit got real after I had a baby and shit's been real ever since. And make no mistake: it always will be. So cheers to two years of this free and beautiful life of mine.