I became a mother, and died to live.

by Janelle Hanchett

So I was hanging out the other day with a friend who has a newborn. A freaking gorgeous newborn boy, to be exact.

He is her first baby. She has recently become a mother.

You know, when we hear those words we hear them like it’s no big deal – “become a mother,” like you might “become a doctor” or “become a pet owner.” As if it’s just this thing that happens, without anything else happening – it’s just this exciting addition to one’s life. You add this new thing and go about your business.

Like a new-home owner, or a resident of a new town.

“A mother.”

But this particular transition comes with a cost. A BIG ONE, yet nobody really talks about it.

And if you do talk about it, you have “postpartum depression.”

I have an idea: let’s talk about it, right here and right now, and call it nothing other than a human, adult reaction to a giant shift in identity, a presence of mind recognizing the end of an entire chapter of life, a heart mourning the woman that once was, and a soul shaking under the weight of a new giant world.

I’ve talked about it a little before, and in my case I actually DID have postpartum depression, and obviously I’m not trying to say that having these feelings does not indicate PPD (um DUH). What I’m saying is that it seems to me that every woman who becomes a mother, no matter how much she loves her kid or wants to be a mom, will most likely, at some point, mourn the loss of her previous identity.

And it will hurt.

You’re sitting in the house a few weeks after your perfect baby is born. Everybody has gone home. The help is gone. Your husband (or wife) is back at work.

Your belly is still sagging. Your boobs are exploding. You’re bleeding still, maybe, but you’re definitely leaking milk. There are big pools of it on your bed and couch and everywhere. You don’t really sleep, but rather fade in and out of a half-sleep, alongside your baby, checking him every hour, acutely aware of his breath, as if it were a freight train roaring through the room: do I hear it? Yes, I hear it.


His temperature, his blanket. He stirs and you’re there, boom. Awake. You are infinitely connected. You seem to be melting into this tiny body. He wakes and you stare into his eyes, struck and dumbfounded at his beauty. You coo at him and notice the way he moves his mouth, as if he wants to speak. What will he say?

Someday he will speak. And you know you know him better than everybody else, and always will, and you know when he’s sleeping you’re there when nobody else is there, and you’re watching him breathe so you can breathe and watching him sleep to drift into your own.

And you’re falling into a love you’ve never known. It’s like quicksand; the more you struggle the deeper you fall. Only you’re not struggling, because it’s a gorgeous catastrophe, and there’s nowhere else to go.

But you watch people leave, too. You watch your husband go to work. You see friends come and go, bright and capable with energy and direction, as if the world is still going on outside, out there.

And you’re isolated and stuck.

As you watch them there are moments, moments when you remember when you used to run around and visit people and live your life and work and be alone. You remember when your body was just your own and you were thinner and felt contained and like the owner of your boobs and vagina and life. You remember having a couple shots of tequila or maybe a cigarette with some friends, and you did it like it was nothing, never knowing it was somebody who was going to stand like an old friend some day, a thousand miles away.

You were twenty, twenty-three, thirty, thirty-five. You were free and young and somebody else.

We were free and young and somebody else.

But now, we’re mothers.

At some point the reality will hit us: We are never alone again, no matter where we are, and we are the only ones in the world who have become this person toward this child.

Yeah, that’s right. I said it. NOT EVEN THE DAD.

It’s hard to put into words, but something becomes very apparent when a baby enters a relationship: there is something different between my relationship with this baby, and everybody else in the world.

I am the only one who is The Mother to this child twenty-four hours a day, and will be for the rest of my life.

I’m not trying to speak for everybody. Obviously. I’m speaking for myself, and for my friends, who I’ve seen living the same beautiful catastrophe.

My husband always goes back to work relatively soon after the baby is born. So his life, though obviously irrevocably changed, goes on in more or less the same way it was before. My husband’s sleep patterns haven’t changed. My husband’s body isn’t suddenly owned by a 9-pound nursing machine. My husband’s vagina isn’t, well, let’s change the subject. My husband doesn’t have stretch marks. My husband didn’t give birth.

My husband doesn’t spend hours eye-locked with the newborn, cooing and talking with infinite fascination with a ball of chub. My husband doesn’t pick at the baby’s head and eyes and ears like an attentive monkey.

My husband didn’t become a mother, but I did.

And there are moments when I know it. There are moments when I look at that baby and myself and feel my body that isn’t my body and wonder if maybe I didn’t make the biggest mistake of my life, because what have I given up? What have I done? Was I ready?

Why didn’t I appreciate my life more, when it was mine? What if I want to leave one day?

I’ll never be able to leave one day, ever.

I’ve been the same woman my whole life. What about her? Where is she? Is she just dead?

Yes, she is just dead.


Does that seem harsh? Well, it is. So is motherhood.

Perhaps we can soften this whole thing by saying our identities are “transformed,” or we are “forever changed,” but the fact of the matter is that the woman you once were is gone, and she will never come back.


You can pretend she’s not dead. You can even leave your family and act like a kid again and not a mother. But you will not be free, and you will die under the weight of your lies, because you know you’re something else, and there’s a little girl out there who misses her mama, and has replaced her with a box full of notes and cards and memories and yearning.

I’m speaking from experience.

I will never live a single day as an individual. Always, somewhere, my heart will be beating for that child. Always, somewhere, though I may not even know it, my mind has wrapped itself around her, wondering how she is, seeing a shirt or dog or book, “She would love that.” I miss her.

One thousand miles away, but tied.

And so she’s gone, that woman. Old friend who partied with you and spent hours absorbed in herself, her work. She’s gone, that girl that lived for herself, and maybe you for a moment, but always, in the end, for herself.

And yet, I’m still here. This is still me. I am untouched, unscathed. So maybe I have not died?

If I died, how am I here, nursing and changing and mothering this baby? Who’s doing this work now?

And who is she?

I don’t know her yet, but I will. I’ll know the woman who wraps her baby against her chest and storms the world. I’ll know the woman who goes back to work with one foot and her heart at home, always. I’ll meet the woman who races to preschool to get there on time and holds little hands and chases kids in restaurants.

I’ll meet the woman who disciplines. I’ll meet the woman who yells. I’ll meet the woman who works to be better, who holds a child as it grows and grows and grows and I’ll meet the woman who does it a couple more times, until she’s the one sitting by a friend and a newborn, telling her it’s alright, talking about death, and rebirth.


Thinking my god, I guess I’ve known her all along.



We’re all facing the “most sacred job in the world” armed with nothin but ourselves. 

I insist there’s beauty right there. And a shitload of humor. A SHITLOAD OF FUCKING HUMOR. Because it’s funny, goddamnit, the whole thing.

And I wrote that too.
That part was really, really fun. Alongside even the most intense parts of that book, I was laughing my ass off (IN MOMENTS, okay, I’m not a monster). I may be a monster.

Somebody messaged me today saying her favorite passage in the book was the dinosaur porn one. Here it is:

“Let’s not talk about how we all became better versions of ourselves the day we became parents, and, please, would you stop pretending you did? Because your holier-than-thou shit makes me worry you watch dinosaur porn after the kids go to bed. Your steadfast focus on seasonal cupcakes and organic kombucha concerns me. Look, I’ve got some too. I know all about gut flora. But please. Is that all there is?”


  • Christy

    I have never read a more eloquent description of how a woman’s soul is transformed by motherhood. I have friends who have never understood what I meant when I said I needed a few days where I was no one’s wife or mother – I wanted to just be me. And now I read this and see that you understand me and speak for me in a way I never could. I’m grateful.

    • renegademama

      Thank you, Christy! I too felt this feeling, so strongly, when my daughter was born 11 years ago. I was sure there was something terribly wrong with me. And I was sure I shouldn’t say it, ever, out loud, because what kind of mother would I be? I thought I was just supposed to “become a mother” in one glorious moment, the second she was born. I had no idea it would be a long, and sometimes brutal, process of discovery. But now, what the hell? I’m happy as can be, mama and all.

      • Tok

        You all seriously need to read Kate Chopin’s book “The Awakening.” Older women (I am 63) like us FOUGHT to make the world understand that we are MUCH MORE than wives and mothers. We are WOMEN, strong, EQUAL, beautiful and INDEPENDENT, even when married and/or mothering. Kate says that she would “Give up her life for her children to protect them,” but that she will NEVER “Give up her SELF.” (This was a VICTORIAN woman!) Feminists like us have been trying for decades to break these OLD-FASHIONED stereotypes. And, YES,there are MANY fathers out there who give up time, or even their careers, to “father” their children,sometimes full-time for their wives’ sake. My son is an “equal-time” parent, happily married, and it is a miracle to see this! I am a mother of two, who NEVER felt anything called “Empty Nest Syndrome.” I was thrilled to enter a new , stronger phase of my life and become truly my own person, very different from the GIRL who married at age 19. I was recently widowed and am grateful that my loving husband never stood in my way, so that I can hanlde my newfound total “independence.” Please read some Betty Freiden, or something that empowers women. And get a grip, Girls!

        • renegademama

          I would like to suggest that before you start YELLING at people to (I’m paraphrasing) pull their heads out of their 1950s misogynistic asses,you actually read a bit of feminist theory written, oh, I don’t know, in the last 50 years?. Feminism has come a long way. Judith Butler, bell hooks, Chela Sandoval, Linda Kerber, Amy Kaplan. You’ll find “we” have moved far beyond the simple statement that women must be out of the home, as you have implied here. Motherhood, even stay-at-home motherhood, is well within the “feminist save zone,” (if such a thing even exists) as we now understand that dictating to women where they should be (out of the home) — or indeed anything that they should be — is exactly the same as banishing them to the home, for are we not still deciding for them who and what and where they may be? Read “No More Separate Spheres,” or Google “radical homemaking.”

          Incidentally, I am in my last semester of a Master’s program (in English literature) and write and have kids and am doing what I believe to be very important work (to me, at least), which I’m pretty sure makes me STRONG, EQUAL and INDEPENDENT, “broken free” from those OLD-FASHIONED stereotypes. Or maybe I should read some Chopin to enlighten myself. Oh wait. I have an M.A. in English. I already have!

          Also, as a “feminist,” you might want to stop referring to grown women as “girls.” It’s demeaning and derogatory, reflecting a patriarchal power structure interested in infantilizing women, casting them as small, vulnerable and innocent.

          Then, after all this has happened, you may come back and YELL at us about how we need to “get a grip.”

          • Susan

            You cannot fight the genetic battle– giving birth sets up certain feelings that have nothing to do with all the crap re feminism etc. it’s a challenge to be a mum no matter what your situation. It causes problems. It’s wonderful but tough–period. Wait till you experience it before you make negative comments about what goes on with life.

          • Leah

            Bwah! HahaHaHA! Allelujah, sister! Love the article and all of your smart sass.

          • Lindsay

            That “feminist” lady spelled Betty Friedan wrong. I’m just sayin.

          • Megan

            OMG Thank you for writing that reply to Tok. I loved your piece but i think I loved that reply even more.

          • Ozgirl


          • Johanna

            Thank you <3. I am not a mother, yet, but I struggle with that decision. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and I see how she lost her identity in us and doesn't know what to do with herself now that we're grown and she is still at home. With that example, the thought of being a stay-at-home mom and "giving up" the career and education I have spent the last 13 years (and more if you count K-12 school) building has scared the crap out of me. And yet I want it. I want to be able to leave the dead end career path I am on and be a mom. I want to focus on the things that make me happy like my writing and knitting (which my full time job doesn't allow me much time for). But I feel like I still get looks from people when I say that. I feel like a failure somehow when I talk about being a stay-at-home mom after having worked so hard for my Master's degree. You mentioned how forcing a woman to work while parenting is no different than forcing a woman to stay at home with the kids when she wants to work. Thank you for that. Because I feel that pressure and I am glad to know that it is okay for me, as a woman and an advocate for strong, beautiful women, to choose that life for myself and my family, and that I am not somehow betraying my gender and all we have fought so hard for. <3

            • Caz

              I hope you found a way to be at peace with your choices, Johanna. Every decision we make closes off the doors to other decisions. There is always a path not taken… so if you want to choose motherhood, it will be a sacrifice. But the fight for Feminism was allowing people to choose what THEY wanted to do, and not having the choice made for them. So if you want to stay at home and sing Nursery Rhymes, then you go right ahead, and that is Girl Power!

        • Con

          First, thank you Renegademama for speaking what is the truth for many of us. I also want to thank Tok for being part of the feminist movement. You played an important role in our history. But seriously, how are your hurtful and patronizing words helping anyone? I think you kind of missed the point of Renegademama’s words. Women are the most amazing, strong, intelligent, compassionate, capable (the list goes on!) creatures on this earth. I perceived nothing of weakness from this essay. It actually speaks of strength to me. Strength to bring life into this world after having it all (thanks in part to women like you!) but then strength to figure out how to define ourselves again while being great mothers. The world we live in is vastly different for young mothers than 40 years ago. Some better (technology), some worse (families spread all over, so fewer support systems). Let’s be gentle with each other and be there for each other to further the feminist movement!

        • NLR

          There is something sad to me about someone who feels no sense of loss when becoming a mother. Who would not die to herself for her children. Who would reduce anyone who feels motherhood requires sacrifice and passion to a hysterical frenzy (“get a grip, girls?). Motherhood is an extreme sport we choose to participate in. There is honor and respect in being a mother. Not every woman has a partner to share the load with. Not every woman has a “career” to say that’s “who she is”. It’s the narrow-minded feminists that I feel sometimes have lead young moms to feel like they are less than. That’s the way it was 30 years ago when I was raising my kids. Thankfully, that’s old school and young moms are seeing the value of raising the next generation. It is quite honestly the single most important job on earth. The most rewarding, the most difficult, the most sacrificial. There is no job that requires more creativity or more psychological warfare, or is more physically demanding. Motherhood is a career. No one says you can’t have two, but denying its significance as a occupation in itself and the purposeful effort, research, practice and time that it takes to do it well is to say that you feel your life is of more value than the one you brought into the world and is quite frankly, a little naive and 70’s. Mothers deserve to have the door held open for them. Feminists can feel free to open the door for themselves.

          P.S. I am a business owner in a male-dominated technology field, 3 children, 4 grandchildren.

        • rachel

          TOK I am so bothered by your response. All this talk of feminism drives me absolutely crazy.
          Not everyone wants to be a mother and a career woman. I for one, love being a stay at home mom. I joke that I was meant to be a 1950’a house wife. I love being at home watching my girls grow and being their main teacher. I like to keep a clean house and make dinner for my family. I went back to school after our first daughter was born and have done nothing with my diploma. It sits on my desk collecting dust. I want to be at home, I want to ‘lose’ myself in my children. And that doesn’t make me any less of a women than some one who juggles motherhood and a career.

          • Jaimi

            Yes, Rachel! I feel the same way. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree with the full intention that IF my husband and I could afford to have children I would be staying home. I spent too much time working in child care and seeing how long the days were for children in that environment that I would not have my children there. So, I am a SAHM too and LOVE every moment. Take care!

        • Jaimi

          I am not sure why “feminists” set men up as the standard that we are to live up to: whatever men do, we need to do too? I think we women are beautiful and strong and independent in our own right. We can be glad to have the breasts and the vaginas-why aren’t men trying to live up to our standard of strength? Oh, wait, we are different in wonderful ways. I celebrate the biological difference of being a woman and LOVE every moment (even the ones I don’t like) of being a strong, stay-at-home mom who just happens to manage the retirement portfolio, organize every move we make thanks to being military, as well as volunteer in the military community, help at my church when able, and write my own blog site for moms to feel motivated about the wonderful choice that is being a stay-at-home mom. Stay-at-home dads are great too! Children NEED the presence of their parents, so I will fill that NEED by being present!

          • Michele Engel

            Jaimi, I’m not sure which “feminists” you’re referring to who’ve “set men up as the standard that we are to live up to: whatever men do, we need to do too?” I’m 59 years old and was part of the second wave of feminism. I called myself a feminist then, and I call myself one now. And I distinctly remember that there was a feminist slogan (bumper sticker, button, etc.) way back then that said “Women who aspire to be men lack ambition.” The feminists I hung out with worked to ensure that women would have the opportunity to be the kind of women they wanted and needed to be, based on their own definition (not men’s)–with children or child-free. There was a lot of feminist celebration of what many consider to be “female” qualities. I don’t remember us being all that enamored of stereotypical male characteristics and behavior.

            • Laura

              Old post but I’ve just discovered this blog. I’m 37 but identify far more with second wavers than I do so-called third wavers of today. I think this perception that feminists want women to become men, or that feminists think a SAHM lacks ambition and holds other women down are ideas presented by anti-feminist fear mongers. Unfortunately many people buy into this “straw feminism”.

              • Sarah

                I guess, at 27, I am what you would refer to as a third waver. I despise gender stereotypes. I am not saying that women don’t have chemical changes when they give birth or that they shouldn’t enjoy being a mother if they so choose. You have us all wrong.

                My father was a stay at home dad. My mother travelled and worked my whole childhood. She always wanted “a man’s life.” Now that she is a leader in her field, she’s tired of still answering questions about balancing work and family (I am the youngest and haven’t lived at home for 9 years). No one argues that she is a woman, but she took life by the balls and made it hers. My dad loved being at home with us. He taught me so much. Was my experience different than most? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the best! If you want to be a stay at home parent, seriously do it. Having my dad around was great. Just don’t be one of those that says it has to be the mom if she just wants to “be the dad.”

                Also from my understanding, its the second wave feminists that said women have to work outside the home, because the second wavers won them that right… I could be wrong I guess lol

                Also this: “Comment policy: try not to be a dick.” lolol that’s great. Thanks renegademama

          • Bandora

            Jaimi, and all others who get angry about the talks of feminists: Nobody tells you to make a work career besides beeing a mom. But instead of feeling empty cause the husband leaves in the morning to work, women who have the feeling they have lost their life, should go back to work as well.
            All what feminists say is that we – women of today – have the chance to live the life we want to live. I am a full-time working mother and I do see that my life has changed. But I still go out with friends, sometimes with my daughter, sometimes without her. I still work on my career (and I don’t think all day long about my daughter while at work). And I do have a clean house and healthy meals for the family at home – most of the time.

            I am a MOTHER – totally in love with my child like I could never be with anyone else, includding my husband – full with pleasure and love and happieness about beeing a mom.

            I am a WOMAN – equally to men or other women, mothers or not – happy with my body, my work, my life, more than before the time I wasn’t a mother. Cause today, I know how much I can be, how my I can grow, how much I can learn from beeing a MOTHER and EQUAL WOMAN!

            Yes, I would die to protect my child, but I don’t have to give up myself for beeing a good mom. Nobody has to. So what did I loose? Free time in front of the television? Beeing egoistiv and egocentric, only thinking about myself (I have always cared about others and taken responsibility for my behavior)? Sleep? YES, definetly, this I can say!

            • wendykh


              thank you

            • Ozgirl

              You may have lost just a little bit in spelling skills. js.
              Other than that – probably nothing.

        • Debbie

          I’m 51 and in my opinion these girls have it right. I find my life when I give up my life. I hope my tombstone reads something like, “She gave of herself.”

      • Liesl

        Beautifuly written, thank you for being so wise and true. I have a two year old and miss my old self. Well I did, you made me feel better. Now I can become what I am, a mother. Thanks!!

    • kelly

      That maid me cry, and realise a hole lot. I got pregnant at 18, im now 20 and my daughters a year old. I watch my friends without children go out everynight and get up and leave and do whatever whenever they want sometimes it makes me cry ( i cry alot i had very bad postpardum depression) my intire family is 8 houres away. aniways hole point that was amazing and im making my husband read that so he can understand alittle bit more!

      • renegademama

        Kelly I had my first baby at 22 years old. It was an unexpected pregnancy; I had known my husband for 3 months when I found out I was pregnant. The first two years with my daughter, who I loved dearly, were mostly hell, because of what was going on inside of me. I became a mother before I was ready, and I couldn’t reconcile the change in me. I’m here to tell you that 11 years later, at 33 years old, I’ve grown fully into myself, and see those years as some of the most important (and difficult) of my life, crafting me into the woman I am today. It’s all necessary, my friend, somehow. Even if it looks all wrong at the time.

        Hang the fuck in there, baby!

        • KayteeEighty

          Are you me? Your first preganncy is spookily like mine, I’d known the now-husband 3 months, had unplanned pregnancy, moved overseas to be with him, first 2 years were SHITE because I felt completely boxed into my situation… 4 yrs on we have a second and very much planned baby, I’m half way through my BA Bus maj. Env. Sci degree and have opened my own business, a totally differnet track to where I was when I first fell pregnant and it took a long time to come to grips with that but now making th emost of the opportunities I have been handed. Loving the blog and glad there is something out there so women know it’s not just them and normalising the natural reaction to such a massive f*cking upheaval that is kids…

          • Ashley Austrew

            First baby at 23. Knew my husband for 4 months. She is 16 months old and I am just now coming out of the dark. Still many hard days. So glad to know it gets better.

            • Karen

              Hi Ashley

              I am over 40,divorced with 2 children, the first one I left because of abuse when our son was 3 months old. It is not always easy $ wise but I love my children more than anything in the world, we have a wonderful family. Enjoy this time with your child, try to find some joy every day, a child is a precious gift.
              Good luck Karen x

        • Catherine

          I needed to hear these words right now. Thank you. I’m a huge fan.

    • Lily

      It is very acurate what u’re describing and I have been exactly through the same stuff. I used the following strategies:
      1. Nails done, hair washed, buying new clothes for my new body from shops like H and M, cheap and comfy, yet sexy.
      2. Being greatful: u have created this human being and she/he can’t live without your love and affection, grateful that u could get pregnant, grateful that u r healthy, baby is healthy, grateful that u can afford to have the baby and u are having the baby for your pleasure, not by mistake or by force, or God knows what. Grateful that your husband is wonderful and helps u so much-hopefully that’s the case, think about anything that u can thank God and thank Him!
      3. If u always used to go to the gym, or yoga, or pilates or whatever, just fricking GO, leave the baby with your husband, pump milk and GO, just take that car and run away, put the music out loud and shout: FREEDOM and take that bloody selfish hours for yourself, u so much deserve it!!!
      4. If u used to be a very hot woman and now u r full of celulite and with an ugly stomach and massive sagging boobs full of veins-like my self, hide it! I only dress in black pants and the blouses that i choose are showing the perfect cleaveage and covering the fat and the round belly, find the right clothes!
      5. If u used to flirt like crazy with men or u used to love sex and do so many activities, u can still do that: take the baby, go out and stare at every man that u like, right into his eyes, I don’t know about u, but I feel much more attractive pushing the stroller, man get crazy, I promise u!
      6. Nobody is asking to identify with the mother role. Of course we all do to a certain extent, but this is only up to u to what extent u want it! Ask your husband to treat u like a WOMAN, caress u, massage u, cook for u, use that guy as much as u can! In return why not be generous and offer a bj, since he hasn’t had any action for God knows how much time!
      I could go on and on, the main point that I want to make is that this is my fist baby and I used to have so many activities before, live life to the maximum, go crazy, experiment every single thing that u can imagine, travel, be free, wild, sexy, etc. This is my choice to have the baby, things are so much easier in our days, the clubs and pubs r the same without me and right now I actually appreciate SO much more every single moment that I get for my self! I used to lead the most selfish life on earth before, this baby has given so much more sense to my life, so just concentrate on the GOOD things and choose deliberately to ignore how u look, how u feel, u have been through such difficult times, love your self, be kind to your self, u r so strong and u made it!

      • Karen

        Love this 🙂 I 100% feel the same way.
        Although it does now take 2 full hours to get ready (nursing in between blow dry and flat iron, picking out an outfit that’s stylish but also conceals) it doesn’t mean you can’t still be yourself again!
        I’ve never felt sexier than I do as a mother.

      • Candice

        Thanks so much for writing this… you are totally right, how much you choose to identify is up to you! Self-identity is something we construct in our own minds.
        Thanks for your good advice!

    • paris

      Uhhh I can’t control my tears.
      I am a new mom to a beautiful baby boy,and I felt every single word of this article to my bones.
      This is so true and I wish more new mothers feel comfortable to speak about these feelings.
      Thank you for your honesty.

  • Seana

    Damnit Janelle. *wipes tears*

    That was seriously the most beautiful thing I have ever fucking read in my entire life.

    Thank you so much for pouring out your heart for us.

    • renegademama

      Thank you, Seana.

    • Razza

      Ditto what Seana said. I’ve just found your site – love your work 🙂 Thanks for putting down in writing the exact thoughts and feelings I struggled with when I first “became a mother”. I waited until my late 30s to have my first baby so think maybe it was even harder than for some because I’d been “that woman” for so long and now I’m suddenly not. I didn’t appreciate for one moment how much my life would change – obviously you expect your day to day tasks to be different, your access to the outside world to be limited for a while, but I totally was not prepared for how my brain, body and entire “me” would be changed. And I felt guilty for feeling that way – people just wanted to talk about my beautiful happy baby and I felt like screaming “What about ME!?” Folks ask how you are but they don’t really want to know the truth 🙂 Anyway, onto baby number two now and things are easier because the biggest changes had already taken place. Thanks for this, makes me feel validated and less of a freak!

  • Janine K

    So unbelievably true <3 Thank goodness for the partners/friends/family that hang in there with us and allow us glimpses of freedom while we grow and adjust to this new role!

  • Lily

    Gorgeous. You do a powerful job of saying what everyone tends to wash over about motherhood with pastel tones and relentless, exhausting positivity. When we don’t talk to women (and men) about the death that needs to happen in transition, we create an incomplete and uninitiated adult. And WE are responsible for that, as a culture, not the depressed mother freaking out that she doesn’t love her newborn enough. Thank you, Janelle. You are a phenomenal resource for women who are afraid to talk about or even look at the Dark Side of motherhood.

    • renegademama

      Thanks, Lily. And you’re right. The death needs to happen, and it’s okay. Aren’t we always, anyway, in a cycle of death and rebirth? The idea that we have stagnant identities is a dangerous one, and motherhood was the thing that helped me realize that I am something deeper, beyond my day-to-day actions. Motherhood made me realize that I have no stable, unchanging identity. It’s a fluid, ever-changing, ever-responding creation of the present moment, just as it should be.

      • Cecilia

        I’m a little late to the game here but just discovered this – and I love you! I just found out I’m pregnant, only seven weeks gone so far so really early days, but seriously just not excited about it. Feel guilty that I would be upset about something that so many people really want, and sorry for my unborn child that they have such an ungrateful mother when they didn’t even get a choice in the matter.

        I was diagnosed with ME a year ago and my life was stolen from me, so I feel like I’ve grieved (am still grieving) the loss/death of who I used to be…I used to be so full of energy, travel all the time, go crazy at the gym, wear amazing clothes because my body was fit and lean, be happy…. my life now consists of bed, sofa, tv, a short walk … that’s kind of it. It’s sucked a lot. I do the cleaning and cooking at home because I’m at home and my husband is at work all day. I am the person I thought I would never be.

        Now I am pregnant, I’m literally living someone else’s dream. Marriage, housewife, stay at home mum. Who am I?! Definitely don’t know that anymore.

        But thank you so much for your encouraging words … I hope I’ll find my new identity soon and find joy in who I am again.

  • Bep

    This was perfect. Just perfect. I have never heard motherhood described so perfectly. I wish I could’ve read this in those first couple months, it would’ve made me feel so much better. And I totally lol’d at the “My husband doesn’t pick at the baby’s head and eyes and ears like an attentive monkey. I actually take some kind of pleasure in that…waxballs,cradle cap,eye boogies.etc. Lemme at it!haha
    Super great article, I will definitely be trying to get every Mother I know to read it.

    • renegademama

      Thank you! And I wish I could have read it with my first. I was SURE I was the only woman in the world feeling this way, and if I said it out loud they would take her away and commit me. I’m actually not kidding. I used to scream in my journal (in written form) — getting crazier and crazier — because I was harboring this feeling that was killing me, but couldn’t say it. UGH.

  • Karen

    This was amazing. And every word was true.

  • Shan

    <3 No words. Just tears and a lot of love and understanding.

  • Knitting with Olof

    The interesting thing is that it happens every time. I just had my 3rd. You adapt and it takes a while to morn the life you had and to celebrate the life you now have.

    • melissa

      I didn’t have the same transition with my second. Thank god. It helps that he’s an easier baby (I still sometimes wish my first had not been my *first*. Jesus, that was unfair. He is so not an entry-level child).

      But, yes, our life contracted again, and it is frustrating. Will I make it to the post office this week? Who knows!

      Our kids are five years apart, and we were savoring some freedom when we reset the baby time. That experience has been really comforting to us — this chaos and confinement isn’t permanent. Day by day, we get closer to the end. A lot of my friends had their kids more like two years apart, and when we happen to cross paths and I see their haunted, bewildered eyes, I realize they don’t know about the light at the end of the tunnel. Oh, you never got there…! The baby years end! You start living with little people instead of little insane humanoid creatures! It’s not just a cliche: IT GETS BETTER.

      • Knitting with Olof

        I had 3 in 4 years. Yeah I´m crazy like that. Guess I need to learn to cross my legs. But Now with 3 under the age of 5 I´m having to learn to deal. Just going to the gym this morning was a huge ordeal.

        • renegademama

          With my second the transition was pretty smooth. But with the third I was like “OH SHIT WE’VE BECOME A BIG FAMILY.” And I realized we were outnumbered so all bets are off.

          But seriously, I did feel a “death” of some sort with each kid, because you’re right, a part of you mourns the end of the life you knew, but then at the same freaking moment, you can’t imagine life without the newest kid. Weird.

          Three kids under five? HOLY SHIT.

          You’re amazing. It will pay off.

          Um, I think? 🙂

          • Knitting with Olof

            LOL hopefully it will pay off. It’s not easy and they are all boys and I’m home with them 24/7 only getting a mamma night out once a month. As soon as I wean I plan on going to a meditation retreat for 3 days. Just me myself and I with my body to myself. The biggest thing for me these days is the whole my body is not my own and my husband needs it too. While I have NO sex drive at all and would be fine if I wasn’t touched at all for several days. But yeah Yay kids!

      • LuluZazu

        Yes! My kids are a little over 4 years apart and my first was like whoa!, too. Having that time in between was the only option that worked for us, and I am so glad we had it. We got to see our spunky, rambunctious, exhausting child get past the baby years and, even though he’s still as spunky, rambunctious, and exhausting as ever, it’s a completely different world once they enter the big kid stage…and that doesn’t happen until you are long past diapers and cribs and they can actually carry on a conversation with you.

        Some people asked if we were crazy for waiting so long to return to Babyland, and I always say “NO WAY!” It was sooooooo much easier this time around. We also got an easy baby (my husband and I say it’s our reward for surviving #1) and we also have the wisdom that the intense baby stage ends. Each stage comes with challenges, yes, but nothing so far has been like Babyland.

        I have definitely undergone yet another rebirth as a mom to two kids, that makes me a different person than I was when I went from mom to zero to mom of one. This transition was much gentler, though, and I was less afraid. Kind of like the difference between that first day of freshman year of college vs. the first day of sophomore year of college. It’s different, the ante has been upped, but you have a better idea of how it all rolls. There’s a lot of comfort in that.

      • Jenni

        YES. Just yes.

        But Melissa said, “day by day we get closer to the end” And when that happens, when the last one goes off to college, what? Do I have that opportunity to have my life back, the one I mourned for so many years? Suddenly I found myself grieving again, because as renegade mama says, you will never ever stop being a mama. I have had to re-define myself yet again, to be a person independantly of my kids. And while there’s lots of good things about that life, it’s a pretty lonely place.

        • melissa

          Heh. To be clear, I meant the end of the insane no sleep, no predictability, no privacy, look at my husband in passing every so often and notice that he looks like hell, and when was the last time i washed my hair, anyway? survival mode baby years, which took three years with my first, and is going on 18 months with the second. I’m less eager to fast forward through the next 18 years, but I mind picking up the pace a little on the next six months. I miss my husban. And this phase where the baby wants table foods but retches on table foods is getting old.

  • carlisle

    I cried. I needed this. Right now, this very day, this very moment.. while my husband is off at his friends’ house instead of her with me, after being gone for a month for work. I think about it everyday, I’m the only one who knows. Everything about my daughter. Everything anyone can possibly know. My husband has no idea….you’re absolutely right, my husband didn’t become a mother, I did. And he’ll never understand. And it’s no good resenting him for not being a woman.

    • renegademama

      As I always say “My husband is amazing, but he is, um, still a man.”


      I mean that with all kinds of love. I believe mothers are biologically and psychically changed after having kids. Dads? Maybe a little less.

      My mind and body were irrevocably altered after my first kid was born. You know what changed about my husband? He removed his nipple rings.

      That was his contribution.

      HAHAHAHAHa! That’s hysterical because it’s true.

      • V

        It took me some time to make peace with the fact that men have so little transformation in the process. Even though my hubby is super-mega-hands-on and we share 50% of the work I could go crazy inside just because of the appreciation thing.
        If a mother is struggling with anything (physical or emotional) you are likely to hear “at least you have a perfect baby”, “be grateful”, “get a grip”.
        If a father does so much as hold his baby kindly everyone goes “ohhhhh what a great sweet amazing man you have there, lucky girl”….As my hubby helps a lot imagine my “quota” for complaining? NONE. I don’t mean that I need permission but it is sad not to feel supported or appreciated even when you work and do more than hubby + hold all hormones and body changes. I don’t mind when it comes from men…but when women are mean to each other I just want to die! While I watch all great dads around me sharing their funny and disastrous baby sitting episodes over a bier and laughing at each other’s mistakes I cannot understand why women have to judge, compare and criticise each other like they do. SOmetimes I wonder if we are not exactly where we chose to be, suffering our own evil. I am glad that more cool women like you are out there, becoming moms and sharing the not so bright sides of things.

  • Marianne

    So absolutely beautiful and true. I remember lying on the couch with my non-sleeping newborn thinking something along the lines of “gorgeous catastrophe.” Very apt description of motherhood. Thank you.

    • renegademama

      Thank you, Marianne.


      Marianne, “Gorgeous Catastrophe” – best description of a newborn ever. And RenegadeMama – I read this in the midst of tears today. Tears that, before reading, were of frustration that something must be wrong with me because I wasn’t the happy new mum with the perfect baby on the front cover of ‘What to Expect’. Umm who would be after being screamed at for an hour straight by their 6 1/2 week old? By the end, those tears were of joy, that SOMEONE has expressed out loud what I feel but can’t put into words. I’m the first among my closest friends to have a baby and they just.don’t.get.it. How lovely to know that there are people who do and also aren’t afraid to call bullshit on the cliched facade of perfect mum and baby 24-hour joy. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your heart. You’ve got me through a low moment.

      • Joanna

        This was my same reaction, as well. None of my closest friends I grew up with are moms yet either, and they never understand how hard this is on me. Like not even a little bit.
        Thank goodness there are people out there who I can relate with, and who make me feel less alone in all of this.
        Thank you for this article!

  • melissa

    I remember after my first was born… He was weeks old, maybe days. We were half-watching That 70s Show, and suddenly I was relating to the hard-ass dad’s point of view. Motherhood was like a switch. I’m a child / I’m a parent. I knew what sort of mother I wanted to be, and despite the ubiquitous “You’ll see. You’ll change your mind once you get that baby” naysayers, for the most part I was right. But choosing cloth diapers versus disposables is a bullshit detail. So, hooray for me for predicting I could handle folding fabric around my kid’s ass. I was still a fucking child. I had no clue what being a mother meant. Not a god damned clue.

    It was a brutal shock. I was lonely. I didn’t relate to my friends (how could I? They were children). I didn’t have any idea how much time alone I needed until I had none. I didn’t know I had certain buttons, from my mother, until my kid pushed them. It was the worst phase of my life, hands down. But I don’t miss being an idiot child. She’s gone. Mama is a much better person.

    • Mel

      Melissa, I can relate to SO much of what you said. I too didn’t realise how much I needed time by myself until I didn’t have any. I also feel like I’ve been side-swiped by loneliness at times, and the seismic shift in a few of my friendships has left me reeling. I also prefer the mama, but I do miss the child too. And you’re SO right about the bullshit details!

      Carlisle, this post came at just the right time for me too. For me it hasn’t been about my husband (don’t have one; go back and forth on whether or not that’s a good thing). Rather, I’ve been consumed with envy (and hating myself as a result) about friends whose time is their own; who get to go to the movies for godsakes! Seems soooo trivial but feels so raw.

      Janelle, this is in my top 5 of your posts. You’re bloody amazing. Insightful and so eloquent. It’s like someone can see into my soul, and, despite all the darkness, it’s such a relief!!!

      • renegademama

        thank you, Mel. People like you keep me writing. Mean it.

  • Kelly

    Sniff, sniff… Beautiful.

  • Shanna

    The little girl..missing her mama.. that’s my daughter. I ran away one day. I caved. I’ve remarried and have another child, but I never quite meet my own eyes in the mirror. I wanted my 19 year old life back, and now at 27, I regret it every. Single. Day.

    • renegademama

      I did too. I was away from my children for two years. My daughter did have a box. She still has it. She was 5 when I left and 7 when I returned. I wasn’t gone like fully gone, but I was pretty much gone. She told me when she missed me she used to look through that box, at the papers and photos, to remember me and feel comforted.

      Dude, that’s like the saddest shit in the world.

      • Cayo

        I have my own escape fantasy. Sometimes I feel like it’s the only left that wholly belongs to me.

  • Marisa

    Such a powerful post. Thank you for putting the feelings of mothers everywhere into words.

  • Megan A

    This is so true… It is scary and shocking and devastating to realize that the old you is gone. But now that my three beautiful sons are older (8, 6, and 4), I have found that I can honor the deceased me, every day. I honor her by remembering my sense of humor and telling my eldest how excited I am for him to go through puberty and start his first period (he giggles and sighs, he knows I won’t stop the loving teasing!). I honor her when I play some 90’s punk music and sing and dance with my three gentlemen, who by now know all the words to my favorites. I honor her when I tell my sons about the gay rights struggle, and hear them reach the conclusion that yes, everybody deserves love and respect and that it makes no sense to hate someone because of who they love. And I especially honor her by raising my sons to be the kind of men that the old me would have fallen in love with. The kind of men who will not belittle her for being quirky, or slightly chubby. The kind of men who will change the world for the better. It’s the best gift I can give to the woman who died at 22 when she looked at the little plus sign on the pregnancy test. I won’t forget her, and I thank her for giving me the foundation to be the mother I am today, whose heart overflows with love every second of the day and just explodes when those tiny men tell me “mommy, I am so happy that you’re mine!”

    • renegademama

      Totally, and in a way I feel like the exact same person, I mean I’m doing different things but that isn’t what defines me, ya know? My life looks different on the outside, and I see things differently on the inside (um, priorities?), but in other ways I’m the same kid, just like you said. Thanks for reading.

  • Carrie

    I LOVE this. I remember thinking after my daughter was born, “When is the real mom coming?” And, then I realized the real mom was me. Oy.

    • carlisle

      I did, too. For weeks, I was like, “Okay, trial period’s over soon, right? I’m almost done. This will be over, once I’ve proved whatever i have to prove, and her parents are coming to take over in a few days, yea?”

  • Trisa

    I became a mother over 19 years ago. How I wish I’d been able to read this, when my mere suggestion of these feelings brought such anxiety to those around me, and where I had to try to prove it wasn’t depression, but a normal reaction to the absolutely biggest thing that had ever happened to me!

    • renegademama

      “mere suggestion of these feelings brought such anxiety to those around me” — well said! Yes, exactly! We can’t even talk about this stuff. It’s all supposed to be so fulfilling, right? I wish I had read it too, 11 years ago. I think it would have been easier to recognize that I’m not reacting to being a mother, I’m reacting to the person I’m “supposed to become” when I “become a mother.”

  • Molly

    Lovely post, which they all are, but Very moving, compelling me to comment 🙂 Lovr ya!xx

  • Beth

    I needed this. I knew I was grieving the last 3 months, but did not know how to explain it. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. I will miss Beth. But I love Aspen’s Mom even more.

  • Jena Martin


  • Jess

    Ahhh, thank you!

  • Melissa

    Thank You !!!

  • Nicole

    Thank you for this post. Well said.

  • Wendy T

    As the mother of a dead eleven year daughter (brain cancer), I offer a different perspective and what you said does not resonate with me.

    When my Olivia died, I could have had all those things that were “lost” back again. I’m able to leave. I can have that woman I used to be back.

    But wait…what you said does resonate.

    When my Olivia died, I died a thousand deaths. And every single day since then, I die all over again.

    I die a different hopeless, suffocating, desperate death each day while I wait for the real and final one to come a knocking.

    That woman I used to be is a stranger I’ll never again know.

    And that is worthy of a “fuck”.

    • Sage

      Oh Wendy. I am so sorry for your loss. If I dare say, you are right. I don’t think you can ever be the woman you were before being a mom. I think you are still a mom.I hope you get the love and help you need to become the woman you are now, one who has suffered and survived a terrible loss. I hope you find a way to integrate that loss and the love of the daughter who would probably want you to go on living.

      Loss like that changes us forever, my heart is with you

    • renegademama

      I cannot imagine your pain, or your strength, as you keep on keepin’ on. I am so sorry for your loss. I guess this existence really is a series of deaths and rebirths, though some just seem wrong.

  • Alicia Richard

    My first TWO babies were born 14 years ago, and I know I spent the first year grieving. For the loss of that other me, and for the loss of getting started on the parenting train with just ONE baby, like I was hoping for. Some days it crushed my soul, and the sleep deprivation nearly killed me, and I wanted to scream when I had nipple thrush and two babies were crying for milk and I didn’t want to nurse them because it hurt like knives slicing into my nipples.
    But yes, I got through it, somehow. And those two babies turned 14 the other day, and we had lunch together and they will be my best friends and confidantes forever, my family, my reason that I can call myself a warrior mama.

    When their brother was born almost four years later, I got to concentrate just on him – when he was sleeping, I didn’t need to worry that maybe his twin was going to wake up and need me. He nursed easily – no thrush, no wailing with insane pain while nursing! It was a balm, a healing and I soaked it up. Becoming a mama twice over the first time rocked my world, and turned me inside out and upside down, but I feel sorry for women who never get to experience the total and complete life makeover that is becoming a mother, even though it might be akin to being drowned and reborn.

    This was the most raw, real, amazing description of the process that I have ever read. Thank you for putting it out there. I will be sharing it!

    • Olderbutnotwiser

      I am an older mother, sons grown, grandchildren almost grown. I really have been amazed reading what all of you have written, and even more amazed with my total agreement. One thing I want to add in here for Alicia, your comment “those two babies turned 14 the other day, and we had lunch together and they will be my best friends and confidantes forever…” is of one mama who has never had an adult child yet. Not saying that it doesn’t happen that way sometimes, but want you to know, our children are not always our friends (especially teens) and will grow into an adult that will make decisions and choices you would not make. It is sometimes hard to love adult children SO MUCH (it never lets up for me) and know what you know about life…and still not try to take over for them. Another phase of motherhood, adult children. Be ready, be wise, keep talking to each other and most important of all know that every older parent has so wisdom, even the bad ones.

  • Michelle

    Finally – an honest blog about the ups and downs of motherhood. It was like a breath of fresh air reading this.

    I was raised in a traditional home where the little girl learns all the responsibilities of a woman so that when she grows up all she’s trained to do is to get married and have babies. To be a mother. And I was a young mother too. So I expected to be content when my husband and I decided to have our son. But I wasn’t. I had no idea that I would miss my job, my work, my identity that I had created since I moved out on my own. And it hit me like a brick to my fucking face.

    You put it so honestly. I will always love and hate how I feel about the loss of the person I once was. Yet I have also come to discover that it’s a chance to reinvent that old person. My life doesn’t plateau at being a mother or wife. It has added so much to who I am now.

    I’m learning to give myself permission to be a mother/wife/working woman and I think I’ll enjoy where this path will take me! Thank you for giving us all a chance to talk about it.

  • JL

    This is so beautiful, so true, so well-written, and so fucking real. Thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone when my heart is absolutely overwhelmed w/love for my newborn but at the same time my soul is aching to have “me” back, and the guilt from this feeling is making me hate myself. I wish every new mom could read this, so we wouldn’t all feel like we’re supposed to just be giddy with love and mothery feelings (which I am, but not to the exclusion of other feelings) and never think the sadder thoughts, the harder thoughts that we all pretend not to feel so that people won’t judge us or say we must be depressed or ungrateful or crazy. Thank you for making me feel normal(ish) again.

  • Clg

    Oh my… I applaud you.

  • Erica / Northwest Edible Life

    Cried. You made me cry. Lovely.

  • Dawn

    I don’t think the women we were die. I think they’re trapped inside, waitng to be let out, waiting for some chance, some small moment to get out and be who they were, to live that life again. They look out and say, “if that were me, I’d be able to walk away, I’d be able to do this, that, and the other thing.” They try to influence who we are now, they come up in stories we tell, and we have to tell them to shut the hell up every once in awhile. But they’re always there like some sort of invisible siamese twin, irritating us and reminding us of the lives we once had. I wish my premother self were dead, rather than constantly there, an annoying partner inside my head.

    • Basketcase

      Oh yes, so agree with you.
      I wish who I was would go away, so I dont miss her quite so much every day.

  • Rebekah costello

    this shook my soul.

  • Jen L

    That was amazing. Refreshing and honest. Thank you.

  • Jenn

    Last night I laid on the couch next to my 8-year-old with the flu. I watched his breathing and coughing for hours to make sure he was okay. And instantly I was transported back to the newborn days when I literally went days without sleeping; stirring at his every movement. And I realized that no matter how old he gets I will still be his mother who will stay awake all night to watch him breathe — and there is no one else in the world who will be that for him. Just me.

  • Carissa

    Simply, Thank you!

  • Ellen

    You hit the nail on the head. You just wrote everything I’ve ever thought. My oldest is 9 and my youngest is 3. I’ve became a whole new person, a person who I love and a person my children love.

  • Ashley

    Gorgeous catastrophe is perfect. What you wrote is spot on and it’s e letting her die or even wondering if she ever really existed that is my daily struggle.

  • Elizabeth

    I remember my husband asking me, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” and I responded, “To not be a mother for 24 hours. To sleep until my body decides to wake up. To eat whatever I want whenever I want. To watch whatever I want on TV. To have 24 hours where no one needs me for anything at all. I want to be alone.” So he booked me a hotel room and sent me off to be alone. It was bliss!

  • Samantha

    This is a gooder. I found you admits drowning in Soule mama-esq, blogs and I read and laughed and laughed and read every post. I’ve followed ever since and you hit so many of my nails on their heads?! (Creepy? Lol) like your Soule mama post! Anywho this one was so amazing like the whisper in your head of your wiser self that you don’t want to hear. But when you said she’s never coming back I internally slumped over with defeat. I kept telling myself if I just get through this, get through the needy milk poop sleep stage then ill be her again, the anger I feel at being unable to be “her” and the days when I’m totally this new mama person with the nagging and cooking and caring the planning and worrying, she’s never coming back?!? Oh fuck? What am I doing? Truly? Who am I? I’ve been floundering the mama bit waiting for my head to break the surface so I can gasp for air, clear my head and be me again. Hmm. 4 kids in and I might have some mourning to do….

  • hollyml

    I agree that every woman who becomes a mother is, in some way, transformed. But it is a different sort of transformation for different women. And mourning the person she used to be? No. Not everyone. I certainly never have.

    For me, becoming a mother was more like becoming the person I was always, ALWAYS, meant to be. I was content with who I was before kids, don’t mistake me, and it’s true that I’ll never be her again. But it’s not really a dramatic difference, between me-now and me-twelve-years-ago, and I don’t mourn that younger woman in the slightest. Everything she was, and did, was a step along the way to becoming me. A mother. First and foremost of every word I could possibly use to describe myself (and there are many) I am a mother.

    And for whatever it’s worth, I never felt isolated and stuck when my children were infants. In fact, I sometimes miss those days, when it was socially acceptable for me to be all-consumed in child-care. And having a perfect, amazing, powerful body was something that came automatically with the hormones rather than something I would have to WORK at!

    We are here too. The mothers who do NOT miss our “free and independent” days alone. The mothers who have never mourned our “old life” or our “old self” because that past was an introduction to the present — all of a piece, and good but not something worth going back to. The mothers who were always just waiting for a child to become themselves.

    • renegademama

      Awesome! And I think most parenting websites, magazines and other media outlets are written for women who had your experience, assuming ALL women have that experience, and those of us who don’t feel like there’s something wrong with us inherently, or we are less-than mothers.

      And I could be wrong, but I feel like women like you — who find the transition to motherhood completely smooth and easy and comfortable — are the exception rather than the rule, though it sure as hell doesn’t look that way on Babycenter.com.

      It’s time some words were spoken for the rest of us.

      • AmandaAdora

        I feel like both sides of this coin at the same time. And each side is exquisite, and I would never change it. I love how you described falling in love with your newborn, mine is 2 years old now and I still feel that love deepen every moment, and while I miss being able to make an appointment to get my hair did whenever I feel like it, and if I actually do make the appointment and schedule a sitter I still have to cancel because I find myself in the pediatricians office with a feverish little person – sure I miss the past freedoms of time to myself, but I know I am where I am meant to be and would never want to be elsewhere. I appreciate how you captured that emotion with your words. One of my all time favorite songs says that, ” love is expensive and free,” and I could not agree more wholeheartedly. Thank you!


      • hollyml

        Maybe so, but honestly, I feel like a hidden minority. Like all of my mom friends just can’t WAIT to have that overnight alone, or that week vacation with hubby, leaving the kidlets with Grandma. Like every “mom blog” post is about the dark side of being “tied down” by the incessant needs of small children, and every “feminist” article is about how suffocating motherhood can be. None of them ever reflect or validate my own sense of how empowering it is to be a mother and just how much more important our children are, can be, SHOULD be, than ANYTHING else.

        Just for example? I want to scream every time I hear a mother say she “wants her body back.” Honey, it’s always been yours. You don’t have to reject your child in order to claim and embrace your body and everything it is now. But nobody ever questions this sort of thing. Nobody ever says, wow, why is motherhood something you feel a need to escape? It does not have to be that way, it should not be that way, and what it is about our culture that makes so many women miserable that way?

        But then, I don’t read Babycenter. Maybe that’s it. 🙂

        • hollyml

          Oh, also? “Smooth and easy and comfortable”? HAHAHAHAHAHA! 🙂 Emotionally comfortable yes. Natural and fulfilling. But believe me, even those of us who were very much ready to become mothers, weren’t ready, and probably didn’t find it exactly smooth and easy! That part I would guess is universal. The sense, while pregnant, that you are hosting an alien inside your body. The newborn baby who won’t eat, or sleep, and you have NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT TO DO. The undue influence of unfamiliar hormones, the clueless friends and relations, the stretchmarks. Yeah. Not to mention the over-the-top level of infuriating that is a three-year-old. Valuable, fulfilling, important, and all that doesn’t mean “easy.” 🙂

        • carlisle

          I felt like this blog post did indeed validate my feelings that motherhood is empowering and that my daughter is the most important thing in my life ever hands down. That every single one of her needs comes before mine, just shy of me pissing all over myself. I felt that was the point, that we give ourselves up for this tiny little person who is nothing more than a bundle of cuteness to everyone else in the world. This post wasn’t about escaping motherhood, it was about embracing it. not about being suffocated by it, rather completely consumed by this powerful shift in identity from “Me” to “Mama”.

          Psht, if anything, I find marriage more suffocating and overwhelming and what I’d like to escape from time to time…but I digress. I never felt by saying I’d like my body back, I was rejecting my child. Honestly, I don’t know anyone who thinks that way… And the fact that you don’t grieve for the woman you once were, well, that does indeed mean your transition was alot smoother and more comfortable than it has been for us.

          • renegademama

            Yes. What Carlisle said. Exactly.

        • MommaofJaxon

          HOLLYML, I am like you. I do not miss the old me. Since I was a little girl all I ever wanted to be was a mommy. I mean I had a little too much fun when I was younger but I don’t miss it nor would trade a day of it for the life I have. My son didn’t spend a night away until he was 3 and I cried on our 2 night “adult” vacation. I’m a stay at home mom and am with my child 24-7, litterally. People always ask me, don’t you want a break? My answer is NO. I really truely don’t. I do though agree with this message in ways, the lack of sleep, tired, alone though not alone ect. Everyone makes me feel like I’m crazy since I don’t go out when/if I get a chance or take a break as often as others. Glad I am not the only one! The hardest part for me was mourning the loss of my uterus and future babies, since I had an emergency hysterectomy a few hours after my c-section with my first, and only child at 23. I know many woman who relate to this story and I love the way it is told and the way it is not sugar coated!

        • Melissa

          Oh, I definitely want my body back. My sacroiliac joints and pubic symphysis stretched out and never completely snapped back, so that’s awesome. And the 10lber did a number on my pelvic floor — I won’t go in to details. Oh, and my teeth moved, so I had to get a new night guard, and my arches fell, so it’s sexy, sexy orthotics for me. Plus, my hair grows out black and wiry for six months after birth, and I get random rashes and dandruff. I remember looking in the mirror when my first was about five months old, wondering who the fuck I was looking at. MY skin is smooth and dewy. MY hair is auburn and wavy and easy. Whose fucking hair is this?!

          I used to get a little impatient with women who really whined about stretch marks or sagging boobs — you’re not going to be hot forever. we all get old. Get used to it. But then someone else’s really fucking annoying hair started growing straight out of the top of my head, like it was giving me the finger, and I try to be more sympathetic now. Honestly, the postpartum hair is #1 on my list of reasons not to have a third child.

        • Martha

          Hollyml, yes, I totally agree. All I got during my pregnancy and now that she’s here is negativity – about babies, sleep, marriage, whatever. And I was fine while I was pregnant and mothering has come very naturally and calmly to me.

          That being said, I didn’t become a mom till 27 – after college, law school, working, traveling, and 1.5 years of marriage. I had seen the world, partied, had great vacations with my husband alone…I don’t feel like there’s anything I’m missing. And I think some women, who get pregnant before they wanted to, have stronger feelings of missing themselves because they didn’t get to have as much time alone as others do – and maybe they needed that time. They have to get their time on the run now and that’s hard.

          I’m glad that mothering has been easier for me, but I still feel parts of this article acutely. I miss quiet mornings where I drank tea and read the news blogs I love, I miss having hours upon hours of alone time with my husband, I miss working out whenever I wanted…

          I do miss it. Sometimes, more than others. But I know that soon she’ll be big and I’ll be missing her wee baby sighs and cuddles – and I got my time. This is her time. So I’m trying to respect that.

      • Jess

        I’m glad you made this point! I am not yet a mother and am studying the good, the bad and the ugly before I just think it’s all going to be “what I was meant to do”. I am scared to death to loose sleep because I cannot function on little sleep and all the rest that comes along with a baby. I love my life and am worried…

    • Sarah Torres

      Thank you for this – the idea that though it involves a death and lots of difficulty, that should be embraced, not fought, and the result is a new mother identity who lives for her children (and husband and God). Full-of-love selflessness is an ideal to pursue, not a burden or a curse to be fought. It’s inspiring to have this goal to reach for day by day rather than feel nothing but burdened and imprisoned in mothering and marriage.

  • alison

    Thank you so much for this.

  • Cheri

    My girls are both adults now, one married with a child of her own. I still worry about them and think about them everyday. Now I am a grandmother thinking about my grandbaby. You will be a mother until you die. Loved your article, it made me cry.

  • Mary Jo

    Am 38 and pregnant with my first. So glad I came across this post. Thank you.

  • Libby

    I like a lot of what you wrote…except that swollen boobs and bleeding and stretch marks are not what makes one a mother. I agree being a mom is quite different than being a dad. But its motherhood not the act of becoming a mom thats make that occur.

    • renegademama

      Swollen boobs and bleeding and stretch marks don’t make a mother?!

      My God I had no idea. These past 11 years that I’ve been mothering 3 children, I thought my boobs were all that made me a mom! I’m just playing. I didn’t mean to imply those things make us mothers. I was just trying to paint a picture of those first few weeks, and highlight how we are different from our husbands physically, too. But you’re right, those physical changes are NOTHING compared to the other things that make me a mother. 🙂 Thanks for reading, Libby.

  • NoName

    THIS is why some of us are childfree. This is not the kind of life for us. If the writer has problems post birth, she should have considered the consequences of having a kid on her life, her mind, her body and on the relationship between herself and her husband.

    • Samantha

      You can’t “think” about it before hand. You can try I guess, assume etc. but you can’t know until you know. There is nothing wrong with what any of us go through, no amount of postulating that would have changed the process. You can think this is why you are child free and good for you. But you do not know.

      • Samantha

        And I’m not trying to be a dick. Lol

        • renegademama

          You’re amazing. I fear if I respond to this person I may violate my own comment policy.

    • Libby

      I dont think she was saying she regrets it…Just that there are parts that are harder than she expected. Just like everything in life…buying a home…new job…marriage are all filled with good and bad aspects. Some days better than others. She was illustrating what has been a struggle for her. Stuggle does not automatically equal mistake.

      • renegademama

        Yes, Libby!! Exactly. Struggle does not automatically equal mistake. Well said.

    • renegademama


      I wholeheartedly support whatever it is that has kept you from reproducing.

      All my best,

      • SHIC

        Bravo and well done.

      • Gramma Barb

        thank goodness she decided, in her infinite wisdom to remain childless. Attitudes like that are……..
        Sorry can’t say or I WILL violate your comment policy.

        • Leslie

          I wonder why such a staunch non-breeder is even reading a blog called “Renegade Mothering”…

    • Zooey

      I don’t have children, by choice. One reason for that is that I know how lifechanging it would be, in the way this post describes, and that’s not the choice i want to make. But it’s incredibly condescending to say that someone should have ‘considered the consequences’. For one thing, no one can know beforehand how it will be for them. For another, the fact that it is (or can be) such a transformative and sometimes traumatic experience doesn’t mean that mothers regret having children. I saw this post as celebratory, but also as acknowledging that it’s not all sweet sleeping babies and being a magazine-page mother.


        Thank you, Zooey.

    • Thank's for sharing.

      Noname or should i say: noidea! The writer did say you don’t get to try it (Motherhood) on for size b4 u buy. You can pre think thing’s as much as you like but never know how it will effect you until you become one (mother) so instead of coming on here and being a judgemental know-it-all best you read the post properly before putting your comments in!

    • Thank's for sharing

      Can’t find my post but mixed up with another one i had read saying we don’t get to try b4 we buy motherhood. But that is the whole point none of us could have possibly foreseen the impact it would have on our lives good and bad. No one should judge bcos you have to walk a mile in another man’s shoes to know where he’s been.

  • AJ

    Thanks so much for words that are so true, so clear, and so honest. I wish, so much, that I could have read this a year ago, when my son (first baby) was born. I was so lost – caught between the woman I was, and the mother I was becoming. And no one got it, and I felt shame for not feeling like this was the best thing that had ever happened to me. Of course I loved him, I just had lost me.
    Thank you for speaking the truth, the ugly truth, that so many moms run from, and won’t acknowledge.

  • Carly

    Just became a mom at 34 and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. My life has meaning in a way it never did before, and my little one is a family member we were just waiting to meet – it felt like we’d known her all along. But I have a poem inside my bathroom mirror that starts “where did you go, lost girls?” I find myself hiding in the bathroom occasionally to have a few minutes to be the woman I used to be – because I’m just not used to being the one I am now, and it’s exhausting! Oh, the time that version of me didn’t realize she had. And the realization that NO ONE can do this other than me…

  • angela

    Wow. Your words really hit home. I was feeling really closed off from the rest of the world today and your words really made me feel like I am not alone. It’s funny how things work out. I was definitely meant to read this at this moment. *tears streaming 🙂

  • Amanda

    That’s exactly how I feel! Sometimes I think of the me before I had kids and wish I had appreciated it more. It doesn’t mean that I regret having my babies, but I do miss the woman I was and the life I had.

  • Cecelia Futch

    Wow. You write the truth so eloquently. I knew EXACTLY what you were talking about, and my kids were born over 30 years ago. But I couldn’t say those things for fear of being viewed as a “bad” mother. Hell, I viewed myself as a “bad” mother for having those very honest feelings. I loved being a Mom, every bit of it, AND I mourned losing myself until my momself became myself. This is beautiful.

  • Alisha

    I had this exact feeling and can pin point the exact moment that the old me died. 2 days postpartum with my first.. realizing that I was the only one who was every going to be wholly responsible for him.
    I cried. Then I wiped my tears, left the bathroom and was re-born.

  • kate

    Every word of this is true – NoName, don’t you have some clubbing/partying to be at? Buh bye.

  • Anya

    Thank you! As someone who DOESN’T want children THANK YOU. There is such a stigma on not wanting children, but if people were as open as you have been about the enormity of this transition, there would be less stigma against ME for wanting to remain NOT a mother, and more appreciation for women who ARE mothers.

    The only thing I would love to see in this is the addition of “who have children” to the following sentence “but what I’m saying is that every woman, ALL WOMEN, must, at some point, mourn the loss of their previous identities.” I will not. Neither will countless women who for any one of a myriad of reasons cannot have children, even though they might want them.

    • renegademama

      Yes, you’re right! Thanks for reminding me. I read that sentence and saw that typo (for me, it was a typo) and meant to change it, then promptly forgot.

      And thanks for bringing your perspective. I hadn’t thought about it like that.

  • Louise

    Oh god, where were you 2 years ago? I needed to read this more than anything. I tried so hard to put into words what was going on and all I ever came up with (which confised my husband no end) was “I’ve just disappeared, I cant find me” and I really was searching.

    Every new mother should be given this to read

  • Jen


    It’s been three years and I still fiercely search for the old me, to steal moments alone – never happens.

    And even though I don’t “know” you I am so grateful to read that I’m not the only one. I have been in this self-imposed limbo for too long, it’s time to give up the ghost.

  • L

    …my partner says he wishes he could be THAT person – because at least he’d be doing something worthwhile with his life, in his eyes. Now and again he muses about whether he could give up his job, and give me the opportunity to progress with my career (something I like to moan about) – and… I don’t want that!

    However, when I became a mother, I could have done without becoming a laundromat and a cook. That totally sucks.

  • April

    I had a really horrible and scary pregnancy followed by the very traumatic birth of my daughter, and because of that, it took us a long time to bond. I can distinctly remember sitting on the couch and holding this beautiful girl and knowing that I loved her but not really believing it. I knew that all that I had known to be real was gone and that somehow, I had to now be something else. It was a horrible feeling but it was so vivid and I was officially lost. I had died. I was now a Mom and no longer ‘me’. I was alone and I was tired, and my new life most certainly didn’t look like the commercials on TV. But somehow, we worked through it and I figured the new me out. You’re right, I’m now a ‘part’ of something much, much bigger. Thankfully, I’m really, really okay with that. Thanks for writing this.

  • Bonny

    Reading this just now made me want to cry, I’m 6 months pregnant and I feel like things have really just “clicked”. It’s like I was like, ” its me…its me…I’m a mom” and I just hated the thought. My mother died when I was 17, my father at 14 so I really feel alone in this whole parenting endeavor especially since I’m 23. Its me and my fiance and I’m feeling overwhelmed….
    I work towards being positive and not making my new life ahead seem like a pending doom but as time goes on thats exactly what it feels like. The moments I connect with my baby, when I feel her move and hear her heartbeat it gets pushed back a little further and it makes things clearer but still its nice to know that I’m not the only one out there thinking like this, and I thank you.

  • rebecca

    This is so beautifully achingly perfect. A fellow mom posted this on facebook, and when I read it, I thought simply – I love you.

    Thank you for saying this out loud.

  • Shel

    This is so true..I enjoyed reading each n every word of it..thank u!

  • Freya

    I have never read anything that so accurately describes how I feel, and have felt, since my twins were born. I still don’t know the person sitting here right now, typing this. She is a complete stranger. Still. I really hope one day I’ll understand exactly what has happened. I felt completely alone in all of these feelings until I read your post today. Thank you.

  • Shaza

    I totally feel the same way. It was nice to see that I am not the only one who feels like this. Beautifully written

  • Jen

    Thank you for putting this into words. I’ve never read anything like it, and yet felt all of it. My kids are 4 and 2 now and I actually feel these feelings resurfacing with an even greater vengeance over the past year or so. I love them completely but am struggling to create a new identity in which I feel productive and useful. I’m now wondering if maybe I never properly mourned the loss of my Pre-mother self. I too never realized how much alone time I need and it’s so refreshing to hear that I am not alone.

  • Naomi

    This post had me crying. It’s what I’ve been struggling with for the past 11 months. I was a music teacher and loved my job. I was 6 credits away from my masters. Now I sit at home wondering what that was all for. Yesterday my so screamed in my face for two hrs… my husband comes home is a great father but who is the one that stays up all night with the sick child. Me. Because I get to stay home. GET to! When my husband leaves for work I am reminded of how alone I am. I’m sure it doesn’t help that we moved when my son was 4 months and so I have no support system. So I sit here this morning holding my still sick son watching tv morning the woman who used to get up do her hair and go to work and wonder what the point is. Thank you for writing this at least I know I’m not the only one.

  • Rachel Wolf

    Oh, yes. I broke into this topic as well on this, my most popular post ever. Mamas want to have this conversation.


  • Becky

    You know how baby brain takes over and it doesn’t go away after you’ve birthed your baby? And how once you become a new mother all you want to do is express your mixed up emotions and explain why you are so crazy but you can’t because words don’t come to your mouth, only emotions do…? This article truly hit home for me, and explains exactly how I feel most of the time. I have to thank you for identifying this for me and for the catharsis, and for helping me feel I’m not alone. xoxo

  • Amber Wagley

    Thank you.

  • Pam

    How do you put it into words so well. Sitting here, crying… Maybe it’s time to tell you…I have a girl-blogger crush on you. Seriously though, I don’t know where you live, but if there is a Listen To Your Mother Show (www.listentoyourmothershow.com) in your area, you HAVE to audition!!!!

  • Leah Bailey

    Thanks for this. I felt so selfish for mourning the woman that I used to be that I barely realized that’s what I was doing (and am still doing) when my little boy came along eight months ago.

  • Heidi

    When I found out that I was ‘accidentally’ pregnant with my now nine month old son I didn’t tell anyone for a long time, not even my partner, because I needed to mourn. I had just been about to get ready to do some schooling and maybe get ready for a job, I was also getting ready to leave my partner. It took a long time to mourn that loss and in some ways I still do. But then I look at this beautiful baby boy and know that I wouldn’t trade him for any of my plans. Someone else had better plans for me and I am ok with that. I have a buddhism for mothers book that tells me that mothers have ‘little deaths’ all the time. We mourn when our infant becomes a baby and when our baby becomes a toddler and when our child becomes a student and so on. It never ends and makes us sad but also happy at the same time. We seem to walk between those two feelings a lot with children and it is beautiful. Thank you for sharing and saying what some can’t.

  • Sam Devol

    My daughter’s mother was absent, a non-defender. I remember when my daughter got Chicken Pox and it was 2am with no one else but me. I was afraid, thinking about what if I needed a Pharmacy/Doctor/whatever at 2am with no one else to help. That’s when it really hit me; I was it. This child was totally dependent on me, and I would just have to do whatever was necessary for her. A feeling of calmness came over me, and I felt like we could make it through just about anything together… I rubbed more lotion on her pox-bumps. I always identify that with when I actually became a Father.

    • Rebecca

      I love the original post, it resonated strongly with me. But I think we are short changing the incredible transformation that daddies go through too.

      As a working mother with a stay at home husband, I’ve both experienced the massive social/emotional/physical transformation and witnessed it in my partner. My husband gave up his career, his independence and his sense of self to stay home with our kids. Both our bodies changed (although he didn’t need to suffer thru a c-section), both our hearts expanded with the massive amounts of love we bear for our kids. Daddies change too and can equally ride that edge of despair over it. So lets just agree that parenting is amazing and hard and its easy to lose yourself in it sometimes.

  • Annalea

    I’m not sure what to say. What you wrote hit silent places in my heart that I’ve managed to ignore for a very, very long time. And I’m long-overdue for acknowledging the depth of my sacrifice, my commitment, to my children. Thank you for spelling this out; not only so mothers can realize their own secret sorrow, but so those around them . . . those not-mother . . . might understand, and honor, them a little more.

    Thank you.

  • Liz Chalmers

    With full attribution (name, link to your blog) would you allow me to give printouts of this to all our childbirth class clients? We teach a total of about 140 couples every year. Yours is by far the best description I’ve read of the tumult of becoming a mom and I would love to share it so other moms can know that it’s normal to feel these things.

  • Tina

    This was absolutely fantastic! It addressed how I felt (and sometimes still do). I have two wonderful daughters at the ages of 21 and 20 (15 months apart)….to this day I sometimes ponder the “What if……” things. There were a few times within the 21 years of having children that the drive home from work was tempting to just keep going, see where the road leads me, run from the life that I had created. But I couldn’t do it. Those babies already had my undying devotion and even the slightest whisper of causing them pain,hurt me.

    The drastic change that seemed to form over night and then feeling guilty about the thoughts and feelings that I was going through was pretty harsh, but could not be spoken because then you were labeled as being depressant and unfit to care for a newborn. So I clammed up and suffered through and put all of that altered focus of loving, nurturing and caring into those beautiful beings that are and forever will be a huge piece of who I am. I do not regret the choices I made nor would I ever change my past…it made me who I am today, which is the proud and loving parent of two beautiful women. The end result was well worth it.

  • Rachel @ 6512 and growing

    Motherhood contains everything, doesn’t it? All the joy and pain of the best novel. But we get to live it. Wow. Thank you for these well written words. First time here but I look forward to more.

  • Rachel Gray

    Gee whiz! Maybe I’m too old to post this, but I became a mother 53 years ago this Sunday and today I was out buying his birhtday presents. Every year on this day I am transported back to the day he was born and feel the loyalty and responsibility of the experience of birth. On Mother’s Day once he gave me a card with words similar to “On days when the going is rough, I still hold my mother’s hand.” Those words made every wonderful, terrible, agonizing, joyful moment of his life, worth it. And a piece of advise to all the mothers who search for the woman they once were … She is still there, talk to her, seek her out, share with her, make friends with that lovely lady who helped you become the mother you are!

  • Dorothea

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have been having a hard time getting a grip on myself since my daughter was born 11 weeks ago. I realized a few weeks ago that I have ppd, but it’s something more too… I think mourning my old self, really. Reading your piece made me cry from relief, to see it all put into words so perfectly!

  • Amy

    Janelle, this post is one of my favorites from your blog. It’s exactly right and true. I was so confused and overwhelmed and angry after the birth of my first child, even though I loved him so much, more than my husband even! Now he’s seven (the son, not the husband) and I have one-year-old twin boys as well. I still can’t believe it sometimes–me, a mother of three! Who allowed that?! And how am I so lucky? And when will I have time to write again or even paint my nails? My oldest recently told me I have ugly feet. He’s right. I have no time. I told him I had pretty feet before I had kids but that I choose to spend my time keeping them alive now. I’m glad I have these little pieces of humans to love instead.

  • Jessica

    This is the first of your posts I have read. A fellow Scary Mommy referred me here. I have to say that I’m glad she did.

    I thought with all of my being that I would love motherhood and everything that came with it. At the ripe old age of 22, my first baby girl squashed that notion completely. The old me can not coexist with the new mommy me. No more carelessness, sleeping until I feel like waking, or partying with friends whenever the urge strikes. Now I am doing the jobs of 20 people for free. And I still have to maintain enough sanity to be functional at work. Somewhere in there, I’m supposed to whip out my husband’s sexy wife for playtime. Goddammit. I am totally screwed.

    Great post. Loved every word of it!

  • Cheyenne

    Thank you for this. It’s good to know I’m not the only one mourning the loss of myself. My baby will be 11 weeks tomorrow and it’s still so hard. I just wrote about my experience with PPD on my blog because I felt that it was so ridiculous that no one talks about these things! We women need to support each other, not cover up our feelings and experiences. I’m so glad you were brave enough to share. It made me feel just a little less lonesome today.

  • molly

    Not too much else to say but YES. I’m crying. I’m actually crying. I died so they could live.

  • Samantha Parker

    This is THE BEST article I’ve ever read!!! It’s never been written so well!!! Well done!

  • Rachel

    Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I had a baby in October and have been brutally honest about my struggle with my new identity on a daily basis. I’ve verbalized this to people online and in my real life. And I’ve felt like they look at me like I’m a monster. The monster who is mourning the loss of her former self. I wrote about my postpartum depression, the anger I felt towards my husband and the emptiness I felt after delivery.
    So thank you. Thank you for putting into words what I couldn’t articulate. And thank you for bringing tears to my eyes in the most theraputic way.

  • Headacheslayer

    Fantastic…..I never thought of it this way (and I’ve been thru PPD twice). Now that my kids are almost 18 and 11, I guess maybe this is why I’m having such a tough time with the fact my oldest will be away to college in 6 months. I’ll still have one at home….but….with the nest half empty, I guess there is part of me feeling lost.

    I definitely encourage moms to maintain their own “selves” for their sake–and sanity. I’ve always tried to do something that was for me, even if it was just going to the movies by myself.

    And as for those who don’t want kids….my sister was one of “those” people. I supported her whole-heartedly. Then she had a baby and is one of the best moms I know. Her son changed her life for the better. Sometimes what you think you want (or don’t want) is wrong.

    Bravo again on a really wonderful post.

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for real.

    That was beautiful, and spot-on. I’m always so grateful when a writer is able to express the truth about motherhood so eloquently and courageously.

  • Lela

    This is the 3rd time I’ve read this today! I laughed, I cried, I have sent this to everyone I know. Thank you for so perfectly capturing what life was like during those first few months after my son was born. These feelings, and our cultural pressure to suppress them, are the reason I am training to be a postpartum doula. I hope it’s ok for me to direct other new moms to this beautiful, eloquent post.

    • renegademama

      Yes, please do, Lela, and thank you. I commend you for wanting to talk about these things, to bring these things out in the open with new moms, so they know it will go away, that things will change and evolve, and someday they’ll be the mom comforting the new mom. Wish you were my postpartum doula! For real though.

  • Laura@Catharsis

    Oh my God, yes. Yes. It’s not bad or wrong or selfish to feel these emotions. It just is. (P.S. Love the comment policy.)

  • Heather

    Love it. And love your comment policy.

  • Ali

    Nothing compares to the transformation that motherhood brings but this also wonderfully described the psychological and emotional transformation of becoming a father.

    Every day I now go to work with the sense of almost overwhelming responsibility that 3 other people depend on me for their lives, their food, shelter, clothing and warmth.

    My whole life stretches in front of me working every day for their future, every day I give the vast majority of the time I have on earth to them.

    Life is precious and their lives are more valuable than mine, I will spend precious life of mine making theirs better.

    I now lose myself in service to them, 8 hours per day of my job, hours each evening after their bed time of professional study to have more money to give them, weekends spent building playhouses and toys, wrestling, reading to them.

    The person I had become over 35 years was transformed through pregnancy and parenthood into a parentaholic.

    I LOVE being the person I am becoming but there is grief for the person I used to be, the time spent with friends late at night in a variety of dive bars around the world, great vacations and awesome parties.

    A hard transformation but one that is worth it.

    • renegademama

      Wow, thank you for commenting. Your words are encouraging to me, because a couple readers mentioned that I was diminishing the role of the father, which I really did not intend to do, at all! I was trying to point out the differences, and speak from the woman’s viewpoint (and only from that viewpoint), but your comment gives me WAY more insight into it the new father’s role). I hadn’t thought about it like this, about how you suddenly become responsible for taking care of others’ (well, in some arrangements), and the toll that must take on your psyche and emotional self. Thank you, thank you. You’ve taught me a lot.

  • Courtney

    Never has someone so thoroughly encapsulated motherhood. Thank you, a thousand times, thank you. I am now off to share with every mother I know.

  • Aki (parenting paths)

    WOW. I am absolutely in awe after reading your post. I am a early childhood and family consultant/early interventionist and have been trying to articulate these feelings for years now as a sort of ” elevator speech” to describe why I do what I do. There is such a focus on birth when women get pregnant but very little to prepare us for the complete change in identity and lifestyle that come along with being a mom.

    My daughter is 8 now and I am still not the person I was before mama-hood. I like the new me better in so many ways- but I miss the old me too. A lot of my feelings around being a mom are what got me back to school so that I could work with new families to help ease the transition into being a parent.

    Anyway, I started a class for new moms recently and part of the aim is to go beyond regular baby care stuff and address these kinds of topics. I plan to share your post with them this week and I expect that it will really open up the conversation.

    Thank you. So good.

    • renegademama

      Please let me know how they respond. I wish somebody would have told me this would happen, and that it would END someday :), so I commend you for saying it out loud, making it something to be talked about openly. Bravo! Shows a lot of insight and courage on your part. So awesome.

  • Amanda

    What an amazing and truthful insight.
    The number of times I have told those exact words to someone with a newborn baby. (I thought I must have wrote them) But not everyone believes that or is welcome to the idea of it being said out loud. So thank you!!!!
    I am a brutally honest person and can handle a lot, but I was certain that God was being very unfair when I had my first and had a massive recovery from a natural birth (with some fine drugs 🙂 ) As well as a colicy baby and a husband that worked away. I just kept telling myself that he couldn’t possibly do something like this to me if I couldn’t handle it. SO I trudged through each day. I had a beautiful baby boy who I would hold and listen to him cry, cry with him, lay him is his bed and hear him cry and cry while he did that. With these feelings that I didn’t think I loved him. I hated going in public, I hated visiting my friends, especially those with babies his age who didn’t cry. It was the most awful moments. Everyday I would write in my calendar a positive thing that he did and I remember when he was 6 months, and then a year, I went back and read it and only then did I get to fall in love with my bby the way I was suppose to when he was born and in his first few months and I cried again. Of course I loved him like nothing else I’ve ever loved in all my life, but I struggled so much and it didn’t seem fair that people around me made being a mother seem so easy . I remember my worst moments being at home alone while my hubby worked away and having to call my mom at 3am to come take my child. Thankfully she lived close to me and did it. Then crying inconsolabley cause I didn’t want to be a momma anymore. My oldest was just a year when I found out I was pregnant again. I was 3 days into work and had a baby that still wouldn’t sleep. My first thought was not again. I can’t possibly do this again. I called this my moment that my brain actually worked again for a second and told me to pull up my big girl panties, and call this a do over. I prayed and prayed for God to give me a baby that didn’t cry, and slept the night sooner than my first, but if it were not to be that way, I knew I had made it through my first and came out with so much love for him and I could do that a second time. I just thought I may need to drink more coffee and booze. my second son came when my oldest was not quite 20 months and he was a dream baby. My recovery was nothing. Infact, I was grocery shopping the next day by myself knowing I was taking “my time moments” from day 1. The next few months were a bit hard, but only because I had another baby who was jealous of his brother. And because I was a new momma again with no sleep. This time instead of wondering where the tunnel ended, I always kept an eye on the light. All of you who commented are so correct in the fact it is way easier the second time around. I learned so much from my first, who thankfully developed into an amazing toddler. He just turned 3 on Saturday. For the past 2 years, I have sent out a note or emailto my closest friends who are going to be parents about how wonderful it is to be a parent, but where they might find struggles. I tell them that number one, they need a calandar to write only positive things in. And second, it is normal for your old self to battle with your new momma self and almost always the new momma self wins. You are correct, there will never be a day that we can go out on our own and not think about the precious babies at home, but you can go out without them and then have your break with just a taste of that old self and then go home recharged and a better person, and a better momma. A new appreciation for your babies.
    We were great in our younger, single days and We are great in our precious days as a momma. We all know that we wouldn’t trade it in, but I know those hard moments carved who I am now. The moments will not easily if ever be forgotten. I learned how to love someone beyond anything Ive ever felt. My husband who I will agree is so amazing, but still a boy and still trying to fight for his time has become my best friend again. Patience ladies, It can happen again. They are still daft, but you will like them again. Takes time, sometimes lots and lots and lots of it. 🙂 .
    So THANK YOU FOR WRITING THAT. It is a world that not everyone knows, but sure feels DAMN FUCking good that we are not alone.

  • Tracy

    Thank you so much for this, it speaks to deep places I don’t like to admit but that scream at me in the midst of tears, stress, and well, mothering in its tough spots.

    There are tons of responses cause it is such a powerful blog, but I just wanted to thank you as well, <3


  • .jlg.

    You should really take a moment to think about what you are implying here about adoptive parents, dads, and non-gestational parents. It’s rhetoric like this that tells the men and co-parents in our society that they have little value and purpose in the lives of their young children. And without those formative bonds, how can we expect those parental relationships to equalize over the course of time? Still, women martyr themselves to be everything to their children as infants and them complain when their partners aren’t equal co-parents to their older children. But how can we expect that when they’ve been left out of some of the sweetest, easiest bonding time? And the idea that a baby only needs his/her bioligcal mother is simply not true. Or, it’s only as true as a particular family will let it be. I get that this is your personal experience, but the idea of biological motherhood as a) an identity crushing proposition, or b) some sort of monopoly on entry into motherhood is pretty short-sighted.

    • renegademama

      So there’s this thing people do, where rather than read the words on the page, they read themselves into the page, through the filter of their own experience, opinions — and they adjust what they’ve read to validate themselves and jive with their own experiences. You have done so with this, so I’m not going to spend much time pointing out your numerous unfounded assumptions and accusations (a martyr? Where did you get that? I’m a graduate student.). But i will point out that there is a logical fallacy in your assessment, which you probably can’t see due to your own cognitive dissonance. The experience of one biological mother in no way affects, defines, or negates the experience and value of dads, non-birth parents, etc. That’s like saying a post written about my cat “implies” that your experience with a dog is less than – that my cat experience somehow diminishes your entirely unrelated dog experience.

      Also, please take a moment to consider what you’re asking me to do: censor myself and my “rhetoric” because it doesn’t reflect the parenting experience of all people and parents in all the world. However, I’m not trying to speak for all people. That is just the role you have evidently assigned me (a monopoly?! Where did I say I had a monopoly on parenthood? HUH?). I will also point out that I was talking about leaving an older child (obviously, since I spoke of “notes and photos”), and yet you argued against my saying that all BABIES need their biological mothers. Sorry, but that’s all your invention.

      Good luck in your parenting journey. Given this comment, I sense perhaps it hasn’t been an easy one for you. So perhaps in that sense we’re similar.

      • Momma

        You very much diminshed the experience of the father and/or NGP multiple times in your posts with statements like “Yeah, that’s right. I said it. NOT EVEN THE DAD.” and “So his life, though obviously irrevocably changed, goes on in more or less the same way it was before.” I can’t speak for your husband, but going back to work and leaving my newborn and recovering wife at home in no way resembled life “the same way it was before”.

        • renegademama

          Is recognizing difference “diminishing?” Hmmmm. Not following that. I claimed that “not even the dad” becomes a mother. Sorry, I stand by that fully.

          And yes, after that baby is born, relatively speaking, my husband’s life goes on in more or less the same way as before, COMPARED TO MY OWN LIFE, which resembles NOTHING of what it was before (I used to work. Now I stay home nursing, bleeding, recovering, changing diapers, etc.).

          You will never convince me that a man becoming a new father is THE SAME AS a woman’s transition. Why should they be the same? What’s wrong with difference?

          They are both striking, and important and vast and irrevocable – but they are different.

          • Momma

            I never said it was the same. I said that it shouldn’t be diminished.

    • renegademama

      Also want to point out, since we’re on the subject of dangerous “rhetoric,” that your implication that identity is something fixed and lasting (that can’t be “crushed” by motherhood) is actually furthering the cultural constructions you claim to be working against. The point is that identity is always crushed – there is no identity – not in some vague postmodern sense, but in terms of the “the real me.” There is no real me. There is only the “Me” as dictated by my place in the social framework of my existence (am I black or white/gay or straight/male/female/neither or both?)? My “identity” is formed in and through all those factors — so the idea that there is a “real me” that cannot be crushed is precisely the kind of rhetoric that keeps people from questioning their societal positions and experience. But if I know that the that “real me” does not exist at all, and in fact will always be crushed, reformed and obliterated by my ACTUAL experience, then I am free to question, and work against all that has ever said I am “this” or I am “that.” Ya feel me?

      • KellyG

        I feel you. So many people don’t get the reality of ego-death, even as they are experiencing it. There is a consciousness, the consciousness that ‘hears’ the identity voices in our heads, especially the really loud ones that cling to the way things are, because that is what it knows, and its enemy is change, particularly change that leads to ego-death and the birth of a new idenity/internal voice.

  • Nikki

    No, your husband didn’t become a mother, but he did become a parent. As did you.

    I think that there is a discussion to be had here about structural issues, and that discussion would alleviate some of emphasis on biology and gestation that gets us “stuck” in your account. If our country had mandatory paid maternity AND paternity leave (parenting leave, perhaps?) then perhaps the care you attribute to gestational mothering would be more evenly distributed between 2 (or 3 or 4) parents.

    Mothering is a cultural construct, supported by structures and institutions. The expectations of mothers that lead to the overwhelming loss of self described here are assuredly a part of that construct. The frustration I hear JLG articulating has to do with the way you’ve naturalized something that is deeply cultural and structural. That’s frustrating.

    • renegademama

      Sara, Nikki, JLG,

      I want to ask you a serious question.

      Clearly you are interested in women becoming aware of the cultural constructions dictating their “identities” as mothers. And in this we are agreed. But take a step back for a minute and read the comments from women on this post (here and on FB). Many women are saying that “they’ve never said these words out loud before,” and “never knew other women felt this way,” and the “mere suggestion of these feelings brought such anxiety to those around me,” so I ask you: Shouldn’t we be starting the process of questioning by giving voice to the feelings and experience of being unfulfilled by the ‘maternal role?’”

      ISN’T THAT THE FIRST STEP in dismantling the “naturalization” of the construction of motherhood? My god, talk about short-sighted. You are criticizing women for verbalizing that the role they’re cast into isn’t working! Would you rather they just harbor this shit inside, sure they’re the only ones feeling it, sure there’s something wrong with them, because society says their feelings are wrong — and nobody’s arguing with that statement?

      Before we can do anything, we have to admit that what we’re doing now isn’t fucking working!


      P.S. Please also note that I had no agenda when I wrote this post. I visited a friend with a newborn, we cried together. Then I went to Starbucks and wrote this over a giant latte. I hit “publish” and suddenly the post had 100,000 visitors and 14K “likes.” I was just trying to speak some truth about an experience that’s very real, but rarely discussed. I don’t know how to speak for dads, adoptive parents, gay men or women, OR ANYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD OTHER THAN ME.

      • Nikki

        I absolutely think this kind of work is important! Unfortunately I think your post lacks a social critique which leaves us – not you, personally, but all of us – “stuck” in a narrative that’s only way out is the individual woman’s eventual acceptance of the role in some way, shape, or form. But isn’t there another way – one that doesn’t reify the biological narratives of gender difference? And isn’t dialogue important?

        Here’s a post I wrote about this loss of self post-motherhood. I am not a biological mother, and yet I have felt what you felt (minus the leaking).

      • Erica / Northwest Edible Life

        Don’t you love how these commenters think that you knew this post would go viral (if you had psychic powers like that…you’d pick lotto numbers, am I right?), and targeted it just exactly so that it would show up in their Facebook feed and wrote it just to undermine them and piss them off? Pfffttt.

    • Melissa

      I have been thinking about this a lot since I first read it, and I can’t let it go. Biological mothers are uniquely transformed by and tied to their children. There is nothing social or structural about that. It doesn’t mean fathers and adoptive parents aren’t changed by becoming responsible for another person and all their orifices, nor does it mean that biological moms are superior to other parents (obviously?). But it does mean that they are not changed in the same ways.

      A biological mother houses the fetus and its placenta, which suppresses her immune system, loosens her soft tissues, and floods her with progesterone at levels 400% above her non-pregnant peaks, among other things. The hormones allow her breasts to finally mature (a woman who has never been pregnant has juvenile breasts), and actually change her brain and behavior, perhaps permanently. Some evidence suggests her brain structure is actually altered, but most of that research is on rats, which are similar enough to be compelling, but not conclusive. I won’t go into the biomechanics of pregnancy or the process of birth, whether vaginal or caesarian, but I will say that a nursing mother is in a complicated hormonal/neurochemical dance with her infant, where the infant’s cries and suckling evokes hormonal, neurological, and physiological reactions in her. And every child a woman conceives, whether it is born, miscarried, or other, leaves fetal stem cells that will stay in her body forever.

      Pregnant and lactating women produce pheromones that depress testosterone in any cohabitating men, so fathers definitely go through their own unique transformation. It is clearly not as extensive as a mother’s, but it is real and deserves recognition.

      I am not aware of any biological changes adoptive parents experience, though I have heard of some adoptive mothers attempting to nurse an adopted infant (after the first pregnancy, lactation may be induced with sufficient stimulation. In theory). Women who have never been pregnant and gay men… evidently not so much, though I would not say it is impossible the little boogers put out their own pheromones or similar, and we just haven’t found it yet/I’ve never heard of it.

      As I said before, clearly there is no guarantee that biomom is best. And I think the emotional bond between children and parents of any kind is likely similar enough. But the fact remains, the biological mother is biologically altered and bound up with her children, forever, in ways no other parent is. Not even the dad. And after you give birth to a child, and you find you suddenly don’t recognize your boobs, your belly, your vulva, or maybe even your own face (why is my mother in the mirror where I used to be?), those purely biological changes can lead to a profound questioning of the self.

      The biological mom has a unique biological experience. There is simply no sense in pretending otherwise. And how can talking about a unique experience devalue other experiences? And how can a person, who can only have one biological experience, be expected to speak for other experiences? Or even have a right to? Honestly. I wish people who argued about biological narratives actually like, seemed to know anything about biology. It makes these sorts of issues a lot more subtle and complicated than most seem to realize. Don’t even get me started on the biology of sex and gender identity… There are XY men out there who naturally have more feminine bodies than I have ever had. It’s amazing and humbling, and I wouldn’t dare try to speak for them. Seems downright disrespectful. Oh,I have a vagina, too, so I know exactly how you feel, Genetic-Male-With-Female-Body. Gimme a break…

  • Sara

    I agree with .JLG. completely, thank you JLG for your honest input

    • Kristen Mae at Abandoning Pretense

      You debate so eloquently. I felt much of the same things you discuss here (still feel, sometimes). I understand that you are describing your PERSONAL journey, as well as the journeys of women who are close to you. Is there a whole other discussion about identity struggles as relates to men, adoptive parents, etc? Of course! Maybe those who disagree so vehemently should start their own blog?

      • renegademama

        Thank you, thank you. So often other people get straight to the point where I get lost in, well, whatever it is I’m lost in. [Kristen Mae I’m trying to respond to you, but for some reason it won’t let me.]

        • Jane

          One part of me wants to scream, ” Get over it”…but then I realize that we have become a self-centered society. This change is supported by the fact that family members now often live thousands of miles away. In earlier years, a new mother and her child would be nurtured by a the baby’s grandmothers and greatgrandmothers…and in some cases the grand and great grandfathers. I also realize that most of you have never desired a child for years, lost 3 pregnancies to finally be told that your chances of ever having a child are almost nil. 40 years ago I finally gave birth to a child who became my world. I did not lose my body, I still had it, and my husband loved me so much. I did not lose my previous identity, I just added a new one. I still had my life, and it was enriched. Yes, there were days that were difficult, hwoever when I had my previous profession, there were days that were hard to the point I wanted out. 4 years later we were blessed with another child, and my esperience was agin enriched. My husband was involved, and would suggest that I get out for a few hours, or he would take the children for a few hours to some activity. He supported my returning to school when the children were older..By the time they were entering college, I had my PhD and re-entered my profession, at the age of 58. I was not discriminated against because of my age, and in fact, my child rearing played a part in my getting the job I wanted. All during this I also had thelove and visits from my mother. One thing does stand out…one day after our 2nd child was born, it dawned on me that during the pregnancy all attention was on me. After the baby was born, the attention was on this cute newborn; no one asked about me, except my parents and parents in law…and I was extremely grateful for that. On the whole I was so happy to have those babies…and again I shall say I did not lose my body nor my identity. I felt fulfilled, enriched, and ready for the next stage. It was a different era….sadly it is gone.

          • Jane (not the same one - a younger one)

            I am a Jane of the now mothering generation. So glad you felt so blessed and whole when you had your children older Jane.
            My own mother is the same age as you. I know her feelings about having children were more mixed. There was loss and change and growth for her. There was struggle even with the constant close support of her mother. In my family at least these kind of feelings have not only surfaced in my own ‘self centered’ generation. Don’t even get me started on my grandmother. I have read her diaries. Or my mother in law! Multiple experiences exist within all generations past and present. Please don’t judge but just realise how lucky you were to be so strongly supported, unscathed and not at all discriminated against. I’d guess that your experience may be a rare one indeed.

  • Annie Braithwaite

    Here is my addition:

    You will have alone time again…after the child turns 18 or even before. To become a mother is a huge shift but the you did not die (hibernate more accurately). A helicopter mother may “kill” you and hinder the young being’s development.

    We are all once a baby before but we recognize that we are not a “baby” forever so mothers can recognize that too.

    Let yourself live, let your baby grow freely like a plant in the wild and be patient with the transition time, embrace the change because it is fascinating. When the child is no longer a child, these are the sweet memory and freedom returns once more.

    A mother of a 18 years old daughter who has grown a full set of wings

  • Chandra

    Here’s the thing, “my friend”, whether it’s intentional or not, some people feel that their experiences are being negated by your words. Instead of becoming immediately defensive, why not try to understand what they are actually saying?

    • renegademama

      Yes! You’re right. That’s exactly what’s going on. What’s strange is that I’m not speaking for them and couldn’t possibly, since I’m not them, and yet, I’m being criticized for not reflecting them, as if I could anyway. So apparently what I should be doing is writing only that which will resonate with all people all the time in a completely appropriate way, including all humans and their respective perspectives, approaches, experiences, ideas and opinions, and if I’m NOT doing that, I should hold my tongue, for fear of “negating the experiences of others” or offending people? Sounds like political correctness heaven! I understand that in their minds my story has negated the experiences of some; what I don’t get is that I’m being criticized for sharing that story, particularly when it has clearly resonated with others. Do you see the difference? It’s one thing to say “yeah, I hear you, but I see it this other way,” It’s another thing to say “You’re short-sighted and shouldn’t be saying what you’re saying.”

      Besides, I find it hard to believe that adoptive parents don’t go through a crazy identity-shifting period. But again, I don’t know.

      And yes, I was defensive. I apologize for that. I’m not a seasoned professional blogger. It’s a strange feeling to write a post in Starbucks one afternoon for your “regular” few readers, then suddenly have thousands of visitors and complete strangers coming at you critically for not validating their life experiences!

      But you’re right, people are going to read whatever they want to read, and I better get used to it! Cheers.

      • Cayo

        I have one home-made and one store-bought (adopted) and the experience is very similar. The most striking difference being that during those first few months of adjustment you live with the added bonus of not knowing if you will get to keep the baby.

  • kellyf.

    “gorgeous catastrophe”
    that is the best description I have ever heard to describe all this.
    this WHOLE post is the best description I have ever heard. I will be sending this out to every mother I know.

    We call it “the baby cave” and when you’re in deep, there’s no light, but if you keep holding on, the light will eventually show (somewhere around 5 years) and it’s all worth it.

    I, too, was 23, unmarried and way too immature to know what I was getting into. I’m three kids and 15 years in now, and I have to say it’s possible to meet up with the shadow of the woman you left behind. Only now she’s wiser and a hell of a lot stronger. and truly, you realize, you wouldn’t ever want to go back.

    thanks for your great writing!

  • Mallorie

    I love love love the reference “beautiful catastrophe”. So fitting. Although I am an adoptive mom and cant relate to engorged breasts, bleeding, sagging stomach..I did bring home my son with no warning or preparation. And I was like “do I even know WTF Im doing???” It was SHOCK and I surely freaked out a few nights thinking I must be the suckiest mom ever! He is 4 now, and healthy so I mustve been doing a fairly decent job. Love this piece! Thanks for sharing.

  • Gina

    Thank you so much for your honesty! People talk about postpartum depression and all of that stuff, but very rarely do people talk about that moment after the baby is born when so many moms (including myself)have a mini-breakdown. I remember all of the thoughts: What the hell have I done; How am I going to be able to do this; Life will never be the same. Not to mention the guilt that I felt for having those thoughts. I think it sometimes makes it worse when you’re breastfeeding too because you LITERALLY are tied to that baby 24/7.

    My parents are both dead, I don’t have any siblings, and none of my friends had kids yet so I really didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. My son is a year old now and just within the past few months I have finally gotten to a place of loving my “new self” and feeling confident in my mommy skills. Yes, I will never be the same person and I miss that person sometimes, but I’m beginning to like the “new me” better than the old one anyway!

    I think that the best thing for anyone to tell new moms is that it’s okay to have all of these feelings

    • Mallorie

      Here here! I remember putting my baby down in the crib because he wouldnt stop screaming. I went downstairs and onto my porch and just let out this blood curdling scream because I was about to LOSE my mind. I breathed in heavily for five minutes then went back and took a crack at soothing him. Im sure my nieghbors thought I was being murdered.

  • Mallorie

    I just want to add ONE more thing: motherhood is fucking hard wether you pushed that baby out or not. We (mothers) should be pulling together to support eachother. Not dissecting this fucking thing to death.

    • Gina

      Yes! Moms are soooooo critical of each other. I hate getting “advice” from other moms. If I want an opinion I’ll ask for it. I also get tired of “well is he walking yet?” and the judgmental looks I get when I say “No.”

  • Jessica

    Because I know that I don’t have to read your blog, I will refrain from saying anything about the profanity, other than to say I would love to read your blog on a regular basis but I can’t tolerate the profanity and so I probably won’t which would be a shame because I think you have some really great nuggets of truth to share but you parenthesize those nuggets with profanity and I just cannot abide that.
    Now, addressing that which I actually came here to write — I, too, endured pretty significant postpartum depression but didn’t even realize it for what it was until my 2nd child was born. I agree with your sentiments regarding motherhood, but I have to disagree with the weight which you put upon our pre-child life. Once you’ve experienced the gift of motherhood, even with the added stress of postpartum depression, you realize that your “old life” was selfish and self-aggrandizing and your new life as a mother is sacrificial and really is what God intended for us and is so much richer for having this tiny little human relying on us. At some point, you’ve got to take the worth and value off of being able to go out to bars and drink and being able to come and go as you please and instead put worth and value on all the good things that can come with being a mother if you should choose to cultivate them — qualities that are as old as the sun — love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance; against such, there is no law. Is motherhood all about softness and sweetness and light? No, of course not. Most of the time it is about baby spit-up, vomit, diarrhea and PB&Js for the 3rd time that week, but it is still a blessed way to live and I wouldn’t trade all the added pounds from all of those PB&Js for anything in the world.

  • Stanislava Legdeur

    I am sure that I’m not telling you anything new 🙂 but at this story I stand speechless. I’m spreading it around and will continue to do so for as long as I know mothers and mothers-to-be. I have to say that I didn’t experience these feelings when my baby was born. But now – 19 months later – I am in a weird place… And your words came to me at the most perfect moment. They helped me vocalize my own thoughts. Thank you!

    Now I can’t get enough of you 🙂

  • Working Momma with a Baby

    I am saddened to see that some people can’t understand that this is one experience. No one will have the same mothering, or parenting experience but why isn’t that ok? I personally came to leave a comment because I enjoyed your post so much. Your vision that we shift and transform throughout our lives, in a sense like dying, was comforting to me (I even shared it on my own blog!). Thank you for your amazing words. Like always.

    • Ana

      So true. We all have different experiences, and that’s okay…that should be embraced not attacked. We are mothers, not robots programmed to all think and act alike.

      I loved this post because it made me think of my past, my present, and my future. Things change with babes. I never did half the things I wanted to because of my oops babies, but I’d never give them up for the world.

  • Toni

    So true, so true. My mother left us when I was 8, she went to the store for a watermelon and never came back. I remember thinking “When I grow up, I’m going to run away from my kids and husband too!” Like it was some sort of admirable trait. I did get married and have children, somewhere between the third and fourth I started to go a little crazy with the thoughts of This is my Life, There is nothing but Nursing and Birth and Diapers. Five kids in seven years. Not that I regret having them or mothering them, I just wonder what I could have done if I hadn’t done that. Maybe pursued my art more or invented the Rotary Cutter. Now I am a grandmother to 5 with two more on the way. I am pleased my daughters are coping way better than I ever did. They still spend time with me and call me, all voluntarily, so I guess they feel I did a good job. Keep writing please, the world needs more honesty.

  • Lish

    This post really spoke to me. I feel exactly like this. I remember when my daughter (now 13 months) was only days old, and my milk was coming in, and I was bleeding, and hormonal, I sat in the rocker rocking her and crying and crying. Thinking “what have I done? My life is over.” Then crying harder because I was upset that I was even thinking that.

    My husband talks about getting away someday maybe to Phish festival and letting loose like the old days. But it doesn’t matter whether she is there or a thousand miles away because as long as she exists I am her mom and she is somewhere and she relies on me. My actions have consequences for her, my mind can’t operate totally care-free. It will never be the same, ever. And I definitely mourn the old me, the old life.

    Why does no one talk about this?

  • Naomi

    I had to come back and re-read this post again today and the comments. I morn the loss of who I was. Yes I know that one day my baby will grow up…and that is maybe one of the reasons I morn. Who and what will I be then? If I have lost the career women and she has died how will I be when my son is not a baby? I miss working so much and yet feel so guilty contemplating working again. I feel imprisoned and helpless.

  • aoc

    Reading this will likly result in being a better dad. The person I was 477 seconds ago just died, and it is beautiful.

  • Josie Bisett

    Beautifully said. Brought me to tears. I loved every SINGLE word of it. Thank you and will be sharing to my FB friends:)

  • Michelle Krabill

    Just found you. I loved this. Please continue.

  • Mattie

    Thank you. This echoes what I have felt for seven years. This essay is a keeper, and one I will pass on to other new moms, so they know they aren’t crazy, or alone.

  • Dayanny Langiulli

    Well said! As a mom I have been through it. As a pediatrician, I explain this to all of my new mom’s that seem to be struggling. I may just print this & post in my office. Thank you for putting in to words what so many of us feel but just don’t talk about!

  • kelly

    Well, that was well put. I didn’t become a mom until 2 years ago when I was 38. It was a surprise pregnancy, one that I had hoped for for many years but believed wouldn’t happen because of much family dysfunction. The dysfunction fortunately managed to get cleaned up and surprise! a baby girl. In the fraction of a moment immediately following her exit from my body and the doctor putting her on my chest, I completely forgot what was about to unfold. It was like “oh, thank god, we did it, it hurt, i’m so tired, oh, now i can rest!” and then i remember the silhouette of her little head in the sunlight from the window coming towards me, and it clicked “holy fuck, i’m a mom!” and that was the last selfish moment i had. unbelievable. i’ll never forget it, that realization, like “oh, yeah, now it’s time to be this”. i’m so happy being an older (slightly more tired) mom because i got to do most of what i wanted to do as a young woman, and i do look back with a pang now and then, but this, i wouldn’t trade the “beautiful catastrophe” i think you called it- so perfect- for anything, this is who i become…a mother! thank you for your beautiful, honest words!

    • Tammy

      I, too, was an older first-time mom- 32 when I had my first. Now the older daughter is 17 and the younger is 14 in 2 weeks, and I can see the time coming when they’ll be on their own. Sometimes they don’t seem to need me for anything, and sometimes I don’t get a break! I mourned the loss of my non-mom self for a long time, and I think about her sometimes- mostly as a self-centered bitch! But I don’t really want to be her again. I don’t know who I want to be when my kids are grown…I think I have another transition coming up!

  • Christina

    Wow. You so nailed this. I am desperately wishing I could go back in time five years, print this out, and share it at the weekly ppd support group I attended … our shame at our feelings of “mourning” for our old selves, our old lives, was such a component to our feelings of being “bad mothers” and the isolation of being “the mom” – the person for whom the weight of responsibility lies completely upon, no matter how good dad is in the parenting – was profound.

    I honestly think that THIS conversation is the one we’re not supposed to have – and the one we so desperately need. Our fear of admitting that the acceptable narrative was not our experience really freezes us up from being able to say these things.

    Thank you for taking the leap and SAYING IT!

    • renegademama

      Thank you, and clearly :), I agree. We should be talking about the fact that transitioning into motherhood can be really, really freaking ugly, but also that we are REBORN, which is the really amazing part, and what I was trying to say. One day we find ourselves doing what we never thought we could do, and I’ll be damned if we’re not doing it well! And then we get to help other women get through that transition, if, as you say, we’d talk about it! Thanks again.

  • Alana

    I was just given this link as a gift from the universe. I have been going through the “lonely” phase of my journey into motherhood. Eight months deep and still looking for shore or drift wood or anything to hold onto in this vast fucking ocean of newness. Thank You is all I can say, I plan on posting this link to all my dear ones so that mabey, just mabey they might catch a glimps of what has been goin on over here in my heart. Also, you have inspired me to write again, I have not put pen to page since baby boy was born eight months ago. Still in the dream state, I call it the ongoing acid trip that is now my life…”I have a fucking child?!?!?! I’am someones Mom?!?!?!” This really helped me feel not so alone, lonely, but not alone.

    • renegademama

      It will get better. I mean that. 100% you will find yourself reborn, and stronger than ever. Hang in there.

  • Stephanie

    A friend reminded me recently of a long post I had made back in the Myspace days some time after I decided to stop trying to balance career and mothering and became a stay-at-home mom to my baby who was maybe 13 months old. It was dark and filled with the paradox of how much I wanted to be with him and how much I hated that my greatest success in the day was whether we both ate properly and the dishwasher was picked up and if I was willing to read Fox in Socks 3 times or 5. I was certainly in the depths of a depression and transformation I didn’t even recognize, and even though I have since been able to find an uneasy grace in the experience and now have another child, I have never really gotten comfortable. I have become wiser and more myself than I ever could have anticipated, but I also push back against the injustices of being captive in my home to two small tyrants, wonderful and loving though they are.
    Thank you for articulating this little death we go through. I came to that understanding myself not very long ago, but it is hard to explain and hard sometimes to accept. I will go on and do other things. I still aspire. But every success and every failure will stretch out from the roots that reach deep into the earth and thrum with the call of Mother.
    Brilliant writing.

    • renegademama

      Thank you. And yeah, I tried to stay-at-home thing. TOTAL DISASTER. So I applaud you. There have been relatively long stretches of my life where I felt trapped and like I was going nowhere, but I think it was the impetus I needed to change. One day I would wake up and go “Oh crap. I need to do ____?” And then I’d feel free again, for awhile. Your writing is also lovely. Do you write somewhere?

  • Haley

    Yes. Thank you. I’m so glad someone wrote this down, used the word “death”. I love my life, I love my children, but there was a death, absolutely, at the birth of my first child, and I’ve never heard that acknowledged before. Thank you.

    • renegademama

      Yes, as you know I feel that there was a death, and I don’t really see that as a negative thing. I mean shit, we’re still here, right? So it was only a “death” of a part of ourselves, maybe a part that needed to “die” anyway? And so we mourn and it hurts but we gain acceptance and move on, reborn. Alive again. Thanks for getting what I was trying to say.

  • Adina

    Infant and maternal mortality are major problems throughout the world, and I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around the deployment of “maternal death” narrative as a literary device when everyone involved is very much alive. I find it coarse and callous, a cheap trick that imbues writing with a false gravity.

    • renegademama

      There are so many levels of crazy in this comment I’m not sure where to begin, or end, for that matter. I will only suggest that you also look up “metaphor.” It’s a “literary device.”


  • Lesley

    Oh my. I love truth tellers. So I love you. And I love this. And it puts to words the feelings that ALL mothers have, whether or not they can understand or admit it to themselves. And you did it with grace, dignity, and something else that I don’t know there is a word for at this moment in time. Beautiful woman, you are going to change a life or two with this one. Thank you.

    • renegademama

      Thank you, Lesley. That’s all I can say.

  • Zoe

    This is so beautiful and true. I keep re-reading this post and it lands in my heart with a familiar thud every single time. I’ve shared it with all of my mom friends and want to talk about it all the time with everyone. I can’t thank you enough for your honesty and for giving a voice to the churning feelings and thoughts that have been whirling around my heart and head since the day my daughter was placed into my arms 11 months ago. The only thing I would like to add is that I really think motherhood has made me a better, more selfless, and certainly less judgmental person. So although I mourn the death of my past self every single day, I’m also aware that my current self, though battered, is a more gentle and humble soul. But damn, the transformation is painful. Sending love to all the mothers who have read this and said “Yes, this is me.” xoxo

    • renegademama

      Absolutely! We become better versions of ourselves, in my opinion. I see that to some, this post has come across as a death, period, and that makes me sad. I was trying to say that we are reborn, as better, stronger versions of ourselves. At least that’s what happened to me. My 20-year-old self was certainly not my “best” self, but she died abruptly, maybe before I was ready, and it took some pain to get me to face it squarely. Change can be painful. Thank you.

  • Alanna

    “Yes, she is just dead.” made me bawl my eyes out. And I’m still crying.
    I’m due in June and found out I was pregnant two weeks before my 21st birthday, so I’m going to be a young mother just like you were.

    Last night I was laughing and smiling with my boyfriend as we felt our little one kick and now I’m bawling my eyes out mourning the “old me” I barely got a chance to know. I’m putting law school and my career plans on hold. My scorpion bowls and wine coolers were replaced with prenatal vitamins and water.

    I can’t wait to meet my son, and I already love him. Feeling him move is one of the most amazing and reassuring things I’ve ever felt. Still, it’s just hard to admit to myself I’ve already given up my individuality.

    • renegademama

      Oh my! You haven’t given up your individuality! You are telling my story. I was 22 when I had my first kid, and I was accepted into a Master’s program in English literature, which I put on hold. But here’s the thing: you only THINK you’re dead. You only THINK your individuality has “died.” It hasn’t! That was sort of what I was trying to say with this post — that there will come a time when you FEEL like you are dead and gone, but the time will also come when you realize you are STILL YOU, but a MOTHER, too, and you are doing everything you did before (ok maybe not everything) but you are doing it as a mother, and you are stronger and bigger and mightier than before, so much more sure of yourself, so much bigger: a woman, and mother.

      Yes, the “old you” will die, but in her place will be born a version of you better than anything you’ve ever known.

      Check it out. I’m in my last semester of a Master’s program.

      How do ya like them apples?

      Much love to you. Stick around. the women here have got your back.

  • Dani

    This was wonderful, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt that way! When my daughter was born I was beside myself with an overwhelming joy because I tried so hard to have a baby, and the very first night I was home with her, on my own, I was terrified that I had made a horrible mistake because I had no idea what I was doing. Over the past few years I’ve grown into being a mother and kind of think I have it figured out >.< I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, but I am proud of the person I've become. I do still wonder who I would be if she hadn't come into my life, but the more I think about it, the more I'm glad that she did, in my case, she's changed me for the better. The woman I used to be was a doormat, and I'm glad she's gone, there's nothing like standing up for someone who was born with your heart in their little hand to make you realize just how strong you are.

  • mommy

    Thank you for putting this out there. I was amazed to see some of the negative comments! I can’t believe someone said you should have thought ahead about these changes and chose not to have kids! I was 27, in a wonderful marriage, had a great career and loved children at the stage that we decided to have our first. I thought, “sure there’ll be some things to juggle, but I’ve got this, I’m going to love being a mommy.” Never, could I have imagined the loss of self that a child creates in a mothers life. My husband, so loving and supportive, did not experience that the same way I did…I am the mom. That is really different. Being a mom is not something you can prepare for and it is HARD. You are alone (no amount of support makes up for the fact that it is your child, you are the mom and you are responsible for their life!). Your body had changed drastically, your sleep has gone and your freedom is no longer there. You have NO alone time because even if your child is (magically – mine never did) sleeping you are tied to a monitor and know that scream could come at any moment. You are not in control. I’ve had to redefine and find out who I am in this new role. When the second came along there were more changes. Thank you for saying things that needed to be said, need to be heard and should be respected.

  • holly duke

    Thank you… just thank you for saying something i have been trying to explain/deal with for 2 years.. now my husband says he has a new light on what im going through. So thank you so much for elequently saying what ive been bitching about since my first positive pregnancy test.

  • holly duke

    Ive been reading your pages for the last week… i feel like you are in my brain in so many ways… i cant stop telling my friends and family to check your blog because maybe then they will understand why i take meds, and occasionaly need to just run away for a few hours to remember who I am. Your blog has given me so much peace to know that there really is someone (apparently more then i thought) out there that are like me…. so thank you! And please keep it up, i love your writting.

  • Becky

    There was nothing in the world from the time I was a tiny kid myself that I wanted more than to be a mother. Infertility made that a hardwon battle. So, I expected that when I finally became a mother (through adoption) to be thrilled beyond belief. And yet, I found myself struggling with these same things. And the guilt! Oh, the damn guilt. So, thank you. I love being a mother, but there is still loss. Change always involves some loss, even when it’s something we so want.

    • Melissa

      We tried for two years before I got pregnant with our first. I had a difficult pregnancy, a difficult birth, I was unable to breastfeed, and my son was a “high need” baby who just seemed to hate us with his entire tiny heart. And sometimes we got overwhelmed and hated him back.

      The guilt… I can’t even describe it. I’m a good mom. We had a second baby, an easier baby (dare I say? A normal baby) and I see now that my first was just a lousy communicator. He still is. But in those moments when I was hating my life, hating my baby, hating myself, I wondered if I just was not meant to be a mother… If I had selfishly wanted someone to love so badly that I ignored all the signs telling me to give up… the egg shouldn’t have been fertilized, the pregnancy shouldn’t have gone to term, the baby shouldn’t have survived the birth, or he shouldn’t have been feed formula when his mother’s milk never came in… I had wanted him so badly and now our lives were Hell. I just felt so guilty, for failing him, for bringing him into this world to suffer, for being the one he got stuck wuth me instead of a real mother. Dark days. Very dark days.

      I still regret that I couldn’t have done better for him, but at least now I know that I wasn’t a failure, he is just hard. I wish I could have known that. Ironically, he’s a like a stress amp, and some of his tears were just my stress cranked to eleven back at me. If I could have simply resigned myself to the fact that this kid just is this way instead of angsting over why my baby was always miserable no matter what I did, he might have cried for only like, ten hours a day, instead of twelve. 😛

      And as I go to submit this, he randomly cries out in his sleep. He’s sick so he’s been sleeping with me while my husband sleeps with the baby. I miss the baby. He whimpers and I ask him four times what’s wrong. He finally asks for water. He spills it on his shirt, rips his shirt off, tosses it. I offer him the cup again, he says no, flails, cries, cries louder. I tell him I can’t help him unless he tells me what he wants. He asks for water again. No, not water, San Pellegrino. I tell him this is what we have. Finally he drinks it. He whines for white noise and goes back to a fitful sleep. He really hasn’t changed that much since he was a baby. 😛

  • MomofRoo

    Sure is refreshing to read something that expresses the magnitude of feelings when becoming a mother. My son is now 10 yrs old and I still mourn my former self. Yet, I can’t imagine not being a mom. For me, being a mom has given my life true meaning.

  • Roxanne

    My sons are 8 and 6. So I am no longer in that frantic new stage, but even so, this post hit home. I didn’t cry, but I felt profoundly affected. I’m a Libra, and whether or not most people believe in astrology, this part of it rings true for me. As a Libra, I literally NEED partnership. I need someone in my life. A Libra is also an air sign which “feels” with their mind rather than their heart, so emotions can be hard for me to feel. Especially since I have a grounded and stubborn Taurus moon sign.

    When I got married to my husband, it was specifically to attain life goal number 1: to have kids. I didn’t party. I didn’t hang out with friends very often. I didn’t have a self… or so I thought as I spent massive amounts of time reading anything and everything that interested me. I wanted to be spiritual. I wanted to eventually be a mother, and a good one at that. I wanted to do everything all naturally.

    I told my husband why I wanted to marry him, and that even though I did not love him (AT THE TIME), I still wanted to spend my life with him. It took me a year to fall utterly in love with him, and I remain so to this day.

    When my first son was born, my husband and I lived with my mother. I had tried and tried and tried for years (since I was 16) to get pregnant, and by 25, I despaired that it was ever going to happen. I learned that I was pregnant when I was 32 weeks along, and had Gryffin exactly 1 month later. I loved every moment of the first three months. He was the perfect baby, and I had my husband and my mother to help me. If I desperately needed a nap, I could take it. Then…

    Right about the time that I had to admit that I could not produce enough milk to feed my son and put him on formula, he changed. He got colicky. He would scream and cry or just plain moan for hours and hours and never stop. Even though I felt helpless and downright annoyed, I was secure in the knowledge that I could handle this. His colic eventually cleared up and my happy baby returned. I had gotten very close to PPD; I had touched it and waved to it in passing, but I hadn’t actually gotten it. I felt like I FINALLY was the person I always wanted to be. I also fell irrevocably in love with my son. It took about a year – the same as it had to fall in love with my husband.

    Then we moved. I was pregnant with my second son, and I felt like a hermit. I couldn’t bring Gryffin outside to play because I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. He went from never having watched TV at all to watching it as often as I could get him to. After Phoenix was born, I hit something very close to despair.

    The ironic thing was that he was not a colicky baby. He would have been perfect… had he not cried every time I put him down. I wanted to try attachment parenting with him before he was born, but I was NOT prepared for a baby who was soooooo needy that I literally could NOT put him down. I fought with him for months! I just wanted him to lay down in his swing and sleep for a half an hour without me holding him! I wanted him to smile and be happy when other people were holding him so that I could go to the bathroom by myself!

    I used to have no problems taking a shower with my son, but when my second son was born, I almost gave up showering completely because what was once my sanctuary was now utterly invaded by him! He is a mama’s boy like a leech would be proud of! The thing that I had wanted so badly had practically killed my spirit and ground me under its shoe…

    It took me 2 years to fall in love with him. I kept wondering when he would succumb to SIDS. I kept wondering why it wasn’t acceptable to put your baby up for adoption months after he was born. I realized that being a mom meant that I (extra capital I, also italicized. Kinda like a big old giant I rolling around and around in circles) I was this baby’s mother. Even when he cried and cried and cried because I was tired of holding him and my arms ached. Even when I tied him to me and paced the floor for hours because it was the only way he would go to sleep and leave me alone for a while.

    Even when my hubby went right to bed and straight to sleep because he had to go to work and support us even though I was sobbing and wondering if going to prison would be worth finally being rid of the incredibly huge burden.

    But then one day, I gave in. I surrendered. I couldn’t fight the demands of this little person anymore. I brought him to bed with me rather than try to force him to sleep in the crib next to my bed. We went to bed together and I finally got some sleep.


    It wasn’t enough to banish the PPD back to the nether regions of hell, but it was enough to help me cope. In a lot of ways, Phoenix was 3 times easier to care for than Gryffin. Most parents – especially attachment parents – probably would have considered him a star baby. But the me who had been fiercely independent with – or rather dependent on – massive amounts of alone time, she had to die. She had to be replaced with a person who could watch two radiant and bouncing balls of energy zip around the room, climb the furniture, and just generally be 300 times louder than necessary.

    At times, I feel like the luckiest mom in the world to be blessed with two much prayed for miracles. But at other times, the me who still needs some alone time – even if it is only for a couple of hours – that me wants to run away. That me wishes I could drop my kids off at my mom’s house. Or my mother in law’s house. Or any one of my three sisters or two brothers houses and just have a weekend to myself. But I can’t. They won’t let me. So I have to do it all alone and count the minutes until my husband comes home and I can make up an excuse to run to the grocery store.

    It does get easier, but it doesn’t. Being a mother is hard! And I for one wish that those super women who CAN manage to do it all AND have a job would stop looking down on us stay at home mom’s. Just because we occasionally resent the death of who we were, it doesn’t mean that we wish we weren’t moms. It’s still the only thing I want to be when I grow up 🙂

  • S

    Thank you for this. When I had my 1st little one 5 years ago I was completely thrown how fast everything changed. I found myself dying to go back to work, despite the fact only weeks prior I couldn’t WAIT to be done with work. I resented my hubs who got to leave and talk to people daily while I was home for 13 hours a day with a newborn in winter. All I wanted was a bit of “me time”. I’m sure I had PPD but never formally diagnosed. Even now, with 5 years under my belt and another beautiful little one here, I sometimes yearn for my “old life”. But I’ve made some amazing new friends in this new stage of my life. Thank you for bringing this all out to the open, that it’s ok to mourn the loss of our former lives.

  • Lindsey

    Thanks, Janelle.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and as soon as I saw “190 comments” I felt like my secret corner of the internet was being invaded. The people who expect you to preemptively consider their unique position, before you know they are going to read your post, need to get a grip. There’s nothing more entertaining than reading a blog post with no distinct point of view and 20 parenthetical disclaimers about others’ experiences being equally valid, right?

    I feel like I am in the middle of a kind of second death with my 15 month old. Right before she was born (hell, right before I went into labor), I was scared shitless. I knew that part of me was about to die, and I was nowhere near ready. Then she came, and I loved her. I somehow mostly knew what I was doing, instinctively. I was happy that my world was instantly so small, because it was a manageable size. Nurse, sleep, rock, nurse, sleep.

    I knew part of me was gone, and I was sad for it. But the new part was so consuming, I didn’t have to think all that much about what I’d left behind.

    Then I went back to school. Then she stopped wanting to nurse. Then she walked. Then she said words. And gradually I began to feel like I no longer had any idea what I was doing. Not only had I lost so much of that person I was before she was born, but I’ve lost that confident person who ran on hormones and just KNEW what her baby needed. I don’t feel like I’m mothering on instinct anymore. I feel like I’m mothering on advice and books and blogs and semi-rational thought. And that is its own kind of fucking frightening because…what if I don’t do it right? Now I feel like I’m CHOOSING how to mother, and there was such a comfort before in knowing I was doing what FELT right.

    I’m not sure where I’m going from here. But I hope/dread that in the future I will be able to look back at this time and think “wow, and I thought THAT was the hard part.”

  • Jane @ The Hesitant Housewife

    A friend shared this with me, and honestly, I think it is the best blog post I have ever read. It’s like you took the thoughts from my head and translated them with such eloquence. Thank you. Just, thank you.

  • Jenn

    Just the most perfect and real thing I’ve ever read. Just yes. Yes. Every day yes. Peoe look at you like you’re mad if you try to articulate this phenomenon…but it’s just the way things are and is all the more evident when you are reflective. I struggle all the more with the identity shift since my pregnancy was a surprise and I was not an am not married. Although everything has worked out divinely…I often find myself wondering: what next? What now? Where am I supposed to go from here? I was terrible at dating before– now what? Can I ever love someone else now that my heart is owned by a little girl?

    You expressed the early days of motherhood so vividly and honestly that I relived them a moment. Just thank you. Endlessly…

  • Shelley

    So very, very true. I have an 8 (almost 9) month old and at 24 am the first of my friends to have a baby. Seeing my friends continue to live their lives while mine has indefinitely changed was and still is very difficult. Thank you for writing and interpreting what was already inside my head. I am very grateful I read this in a time that I truly needed it.

  • Christine

    Wow….Thank you so much for writing this. As a survivor of PPD, it is so validating to see that I was not alone….because ALONE is exactly the feeling that nearly killed me. People truly don’t realize the scope of this problem, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Thanks!

  • Suzzen

    so…. I thought that was only me feeling like “where has that part of me gone? The part that contained my self identity? Having my first baby at 41, that identity had been well cemented. I love having a child and would never change things back, but I was sure that I had ‘failed’ at preserving my old self. I remember looking at my hands after giving birth and thinking “wow, I am different now!” I felt like I was born along with my baby.

    Your post has shown me that this is maybe a universal feeling! Thank you for allowing me to let go, finally, of maintaining unrealistic expectations! and moving on to ‘what is’, and my new me!

  • Alaskan

    Wow — this comes closer to making me regret getting pregnant than anything I’ve ever read.

    Although I do think this should be required reading for anything thinking about having children. Yup, having kids requires sacrifice, but I’ll be d*mn sure that sacrifice isn’t who I am.

    Sure, I have the occasional mini-freakout that my ability to hop on a plane tomorrow is no longer what it once was. Then my partner told me if the feeling ever got too bad, to give a heads-up, hop on that plane and come home safely. Having a safety valve makes all the difference.

    I hope we can understand that women shouldn’t have to feel like they must give up who they are to become a parent. If you want to do it — great. But it sounds like not everyone does.

    Only you make the choice to give up your previous life in its entirety. I am only having one child, and never really planned on having any because I loved my life. But I met someone who is a willing COPARENT, devoting equal time to our child. Lucky me, he is in a position where he can work from home this summer, and stay home with our newborn, while I head back to my research project at university.

    You know what? I’m going to be playing hockey and rugby this summer too. Sure, (barring complications) I’m going to be tired, and I’m going to make damn sure my partner gets the time for his hobbies too, even if that means I miss an occasional game.

    But I sure the hell am not giving up who I am any more than I expect him to give up who he is.

    Come the school year, we are putting her in daycare without regret, and will be handing her off to grandparents/grand aunts/friends with kids on exchange to make sure we have time to ourselves as well.

    Why feel guilty about that? Why do women feel so compelled to feel guilty about everything? You want a wine-cooler or five? Hand baby off to the other parent/grandparent/etc. and go hit the bars with your girlfriends. Will it be as easy to do as before? No. But why give it up?

    I’ve had a healthy, complication-free pregnancy. You know what? It sucks. I loathe being pregnant. I hate having to watch what I eat and I get (really) grumpy that I can’t run/jump/skate as well as I used to. I play hockey and run anyway, just not up to my previous level. It is cleared medically and it keeps me SANE.

    However, I have friends who loved pregnancy and truly felt nothing about giving up their previous activities. No one is right or wrong. I refuse to feel guilty when people expect me to love pregnancy. Nor do I expect other people to hate it like I do.

    I’m sure parenthood is going to have its complete sucky moments, probably involving screaming, flailing and some serious contained rage. But we are going to diffuse that suckiness out between us.

    Are you tired of always being the one who gets up in the night? Kick you d*mn partner out of bed to deal with it for once. Hand him or her a spatula and tell them dinner is their job three nights a week. Dads are just as capable of childcare as a woman, and it is crappy feminism to say otherwise. If I can do everything a man can, he certainly can do everything I can, aside from packing her around internally for nine months.

    I’m tired of hearing people say moms are more important, more special and more responsible than dads. It is just insulting.

    Maybe, rather than mourn the loss of identity, we should be talking about how to make sure both parents are equal. Use this to kick-start a discussion about equal maternal/paternal leave with co-workers. Certainly, we should be talking about why women feel obligated to sacrifice who they are on the altar of mommyhood.

    Being a parent is an aspect of who I am now, but it does not define me absolutely.

    • Ashley Austrew

      Alaskan, do you actually have a child or are you just pregnant? Because I can tell you from experience that once you have a baby, everything you thought you knew during pregnancy goes out the window.

      Also, I think you missed the point of this post. It’s not about factual realities. She isn’t saying her husband is not helpful, or that she can’t ever go do anything again. She is describing a feeling–the feeling of isolation, the feeling of doing it all on your own, whether that feeling is real or perceived.

  • AlyaMA

    Well said! I come from a family where both my mother and mother-in-law stayed home with their kids when we were young. I thought they had lost themselves over the years, never doing anything for themselves and vowed I wouldn’t let that happen to me. I felt it was best to go back to work to keep my identity and sanity. Nothing is father from the truth. The person who left my work desk to go have a baby is not the same person who sits here now. We all change.

  • Lilah

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I just had my first son and my husband and I are 20 and 21. We miss our old “selves” often but God has granted us the greatest grace in our marriage and our parenting. This perfectly spells our my last 6 weeks with our newborn. It’s good to know I’m not alone! 🙂

  • Claire

    I’ve actually been thinking quite a bit about this subject recently. Last night (valentines day) my husband went out with friends, did not come home at all so he can get to work on time in the morning (we live quite a ways out). He offered that I could do the same and he would stay with our 4 year old while I go out and have adult fun. I won’t lie the idea tempted me, an escape finally! But then it hit me; I don’t really want to. The idea of leaving my child for a WHOLE NIGHT doesn’t sit well with me. Will she be okay? Will she cry for me? Will she ask for me constantly? She’s never been without me. Then I thought deeper…Would I be okay? Would I cry for her? Would I call and ask about her constantly? and the answer is yes to all of it…I would never really enjoy myself and the whole idea of that experience made me just not want to. Then I thought what has happened to me? 5 years ago the mention of party made me race to it if I was not the one throwing it. I’m only 25 but my friends claim me to be 40. I used to be wild (very wild) and free, and I still feel free, but it’s a different “free”. I feel more responsible almost to a point where I have lost friends because they are still “willd and free” and do not understand. And thats okay. The crazy child I was before my daughter (whom I had at 20 I was not ready at all) is gone, I will say she is dead, but a phoenix must burst into flames to rise reborn from the ashes and it is tragic and beautiful all at the same time. I have mourned the death of the old me, but have since welcomed the flames and I am learning on how to emerge from my ashes. I am learning how how to be the best mother I can be for my child and I am excited. Excited for this journey that no one other than mothers could understand. As my daughter grows and changes and matures so do I.

  • J

    Oh, thank you. Thank you for being courageous and politically incorrect about the “role of motherhood”. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for creating a place where mothers can have a genuine discussion about what our lives look like now, in this season. Motherhood is beautiful, but it is also desperate and lonely and full of guilt and this crushing weight that we might not do it perfectly. I am so grateful that someone else understands. I wish I could explain this to my husband, but he would not understand; how could he? And that is the desperate loneliness of it all- that we love our children so completely, with so much abandon, that we are made to feel guilty if somehow we can be identified apart from them. As I sit here nursing my third, I know that I am still in the process of being reborn as a mom. There are days that I am so fulfilled by my children and days that I wish someone got it, that it would be okay for me to say “Actually, I’m NOT loving this right now.” I don’t know how many times I’ve been told by some sweet little old lady at the grocery store, “Enjoy every minute!” You know what, I don’t enjoy every minute, and that’s ok.

  • Cdar Pinder Sommerville

    Omg thank you!! I got pregnant at 14 and had my baby at 15. It saved my life, but it also hurt in good ways and bad ways. I was still me, but now I was different because I thought about my baby all the time, and instead of focusing all my attention on my babydaddy I focused it on her. I still saw my friends, but now it was with my baby and we focused on her. Everything was the same but I was different inside (and out since I’d never been fat before) and I had no idea how to find my way when id barely gotten a grasp on me sober during the 9 months of pregnancy. I thought I missed the old me because I was young and selfish and didn’t love my baby the right way, but I’ve read every single post and realize its normal and I wasn’t a bad person. I’m almost 21 years old now, and I did well being a mom until 19. Then I met a guy and forgot who should’ve been first, I missed 11 mo of her life because of one stupid decision. My thoughts never left her even though it hurt so damn bad to be separated from her. I feel better knowing its ok to be unsure and make mistakes, I love my baby so much, and sometimes I feel like she’s so perfect she deserves a better mother than me, but I’m so damn thankful she’s mine!!!

  • PwnedByKayla

    Thank you so much for writing this. I came across this on bbcenter and no, not all moms are happy-go-lucky, or overflowing with love “as they should be”. I lost two babies (miscarriages) and it took me 10 years to get pregnant. Hubby and i had the talk, well if it doesn’t happen, we’re good. I thought i would never have kids and i had finally made my peace. Then i got worried about not having a period after being off bc for 2 years. They said i didnt ovulate so i was ok. One day i actualky missed my period and peed on the stick, only to have info to give to the the doc. The second line showed up. I was a high risk pregnancy due to my losses, and gestational diabetes. I was on bed rest and diet and was pissed. But i prayed for my daughter to live. After 2 days of labor, i ended up w a c-section. My baby was here, i was estatic. Then i went home. Almost overnight, i felt like shit. Wtf had i done? I felt nothing except for obligation to my child-no love. I held her and fed and changed her, but i felt lost. I knew i loved her in my head, but my heart was slow to thaw. She was a bundle of crying, eating and pooping and all i could do is worry. Am i doing this right/wrong? Will she love me? Is she ok? And what the hell did i used to look like? I’m almost 8 wks in. I had all this guilt about losing my other babies and not being more happy or grateful about my current blessing. I hate myself for wanting to just go to the grocery store or eat without having to do it while holding someone. But its getting better. I’m getting stronger. And i thank you so much for articulating the thoughts in my head and helping me to recognize exactly what it is. I love my baby but i am just having a hard time trying to reconcile the old and new me. Thank you for posting this so i can finally get my husband to get what i have been trying to explain for the last few weeks.

  • Sofia

    I’m holding my two year old in my arms right now and my heart overflows with love and gratitude for her and the man who is now my husband. Like you, I also found out I was preggers after three months of knowing her father. I had always dreamed of being a momma but just really believed it wasn’t in the cards for me. I was in my thirties, lived alone and was gloriously independent, career-driven, and self centered!
    This was the first post I read of yours (have gotten through many, more today) but I had to comment, I love, love, love you! You write my soul. This was such a beautiful, honest, description of my journey -which continues as I’m carrying baby #2 right now- scary! I jokingly (not so much) refer to my existence before my daughter as my “previous life.” I’m still carving out this new me. I’ll get there someday. It was all me for a very long time…now it’s all them. ALL them:) I’ll figure it out in time, the right combo. Anyways, I’m obbsessed with renegade mama! Thank you for your honesty and whole story.

  • Bella Rose

    I’ve read this post three or four times trying to figure out what to leave as a comment. There’s so much I want to say, but I will just simply say THANK YOU! Thank you so much for letting me know that I am not alone in my feelings. My son will be a year old in three weeks and while I love him more than I ever imagined a part of me is still grieving the loss of the woman I was before he came. I wish I was brave enough to write a response to this post.

    Thank you!

  • Sarah

    Absolutely beautifully written. Every mother and mother to be (and also father to be) should read this.

  • Tam

    Thank you so much for this blog. I have really been struggling with the fact I am having another baby and I feel terrible for having feelings sometimes dreading the responsiblity of taking care of another beautiful baby. I worry the family will fall apart and that I will be a horrible mother with two children to care for. Thank you for letting me know I am not the only one who feels these feelings.

  • Kendra

    I wasn’t sure what to expect when my friend sent this to me and I read the title of this post. Wow. I just had my second child a few months ago. After I had my first (who I had longed for and gone through years of infertity and IVF to conceive) I was so surprised by my difficult transition into motherhood. I knew it was hard to go from full-time work to sahm, but I just thought it was PPD (which I had after the first) and just my transition. I grew into being a mother and learned to love it. I found joy in the small parts of my day and being intimately connected to another being. I was excited for my second. And after she was born, I was ecstatic to find I did not suffer from PPD like I did the first time. I have not only enjoyed, but relished in the baby stage. And yet, at the same time…there has been a part of me that has been struggling. I didn’t know what it was, and I was almost upset when a friend suggested that there was something obviously not right in my world. But wow. You nailed it. Even in the middle of loving my baby and toddler, I am mourning who I once was. And nope. Dad does not understand. Not wholly. It’s just not the same. His mind is not connected back at home with the two living, breathing little human beings the way mine is when I am away from them. And while there is something so glorious about this, it’s hard. No question about it. Thank you for voicing what I didn’t know how to put words to – or even recognize that I was feeling. Now, I just need to allow for those feelings and find the new me. Find my balance. Find my peace.

  • Michelle

    Thank you! I have been dealing with mourning the loss of the old me while feeling immense guilt because I wanted to have a living child more than life itself after my son was stillborn. If I wanted this so bad, thought it was my calling in life, why is it so hard and why do I wish for one night of my old life back?? Now I get it.

  • Jen

    So very well said. I’m a new Mom to a 4 month old beautiful & healthy baby boy & really loved this post.

    Thank you.

  • Shannon

    Thank you for so eloquently verbalizing what I have been trying to explain to all the people that seem to think I’m crazy for not feeling 100% happy and elated in the wake of the birth of my first child. I keep trying to explain that I am happy and perfectly in love with this beautiful, helpless baby, but that I’m confused. I have described it many times as a loss of identity and I’ve been shocked that some people, especially mothers, don’t understand the way I feel. I could have written this myself. Again, thank you.

  • Suzanne

    I enjoyed reading this. I can relate, for sure. And for all those that are offended for different reasons, to put it nicely, get over it! This is one woman’s opinion, thoughts, feelings….She put it out there for those to read if they choose. She does not insult. She does not put down. She does not belittle. She does not judge. She is expressing her feelings, feelings that *clearly* a lot of women can relate to. If the situation doesn’t pertain to you, don’t read it! I think our society has become *so* sensitive. Anyway – I enjoyed the read. I do miss my old self! I also love my kids more than life. More than I thought possible. It scares me how much I love them. Great read!

  • Kim

    Finally. Thank you.

  • Farika

    I LOVE this!!! 🙂

  • RelaxedNoMore

    I’m sitting here with my nearly-4-months old perfect little boy sleeping on my lap and have tears in my eyes. You put it perfectly. Thank you!

  • Beth

    Thank you for writing this. I cried as I read this at 5:00am this morning. I was sitting in my living room in the dark, trying to muffle the noise of my breast pump, thinking about how much I wished I was sleeping instead.

  • Rebecca

    So very well said. Really one of the best descriptions of becoming a mother I’ve ever read. I beg of you to talk about your postpartum depression, the experiences you had, and the recovery you made. I had severe ppd and it took my feet right out from under me. No one talked about it, no one warned me, and I thought I was going crazy. We need more education, more information, more communication.

  • Alana

    When my oldest was born (I was 21 and his dad and I -though now married-had only been together a little over a year when we got pregnant), he had some serious health complications and ended up with an emergency surgery and a colostomy at 5 days old. I remember seeing him for the first time after surgery and being so embarrassed that this was my baby. I loved him deeply, but I wondered how a “real” mom could think that about her baby and how would I ever be good enough for him? Now, almost 7 years and 2 more children later, I am more lost than ever, but I have also found the “real” mother in myself more than I ever expected to. Thank you for writing this.

  • Julie

    This is a beautiful post. Thank you for giving voice to all of these thoughts. It resonates with me, very much. Like many of the others have said, I love being a mama and wouldn’t change it for the world – but it certainly does transform you in magnificently catastrophic ways! I have shared it on Facebook and it is getting huge positive response from my mama friends. Bless you!

  • Rochelle Rawlings

    I love this! I wish I was as eloquent as you so I could also describe the desperation of being a mother of a child who has “special needs”. There was a period of determination to make this child “normal” no matter what the personal cost. The limbo of not being in “no children” group of women but not really fitting in with the women who could at least feel a sense of purpose in their child’s everyday accomplishments. The first words, the first day of school, graduation. For me these milestones cane few and far between if ever. Then the realization that even though I grow old, I am and will continue to be a caretaker. There is no hope for me even in my waning years to once again be free. Free to plan a day that does not include also planning for my child. I can not even be allowed to die without guilt. There is no one else and no resources to provide what a mother does for my child. If I had known? I don’t know. It is what it is.

  • lovinghusband

    Us dads are nothing but sperm-donors, right?

    Our lives can never be changed as a mother’s life is changed by childbirth. But for some of us dads, we go through a huge transformation as people giving up a childless life, sacrificing everyday for the love of our wives and children. Not to take away from this great story about the hardships of mothers, but come on, this article makes us sound like we just go about our marry lives a week after our child is born and that the only contribution and sacrifice we have to make is a teaspoon of sperm.

    Why does the author feel the need to be right at the cost of degrading the emotional validity of fathers and the sacrifices they make?

    • renegademama

      I’m sorry I have “degraded your emotional validity.” (though to be honest I’m not totally sure what that means.)

      In reading your comment, I finally realized what some people are failing to understand: This post is about a FEELING. It is not attempting to portray FACT or REALITY. It’s how I PERCEIVE the world when I’m in that moment. It’s not necessarily the way the world IS. It’s about the way I have FELT as I watched my husband walk out the door to work, as he leaves and I’m staying in the house with a newborn — it is not a reflection of what’s actually going on with my husband, or how I view men, or how I feel about male contributions to child rearing. No offense, but this post has shit to do with men, and I apologize if that hurts your feelings. I have written other posts about my feelings and perspectives toward my own personal “sperm donor.”

      That was a joke. I’m happy to direct you to those posts if you wish. But I can summarize by stating that my kids wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for that man, and there have been YEARS when his contributions have been FAR GREATER than my own, and he is, daily, an example to me in terms of loyalty, patience, and parenting.There have been times when I was something of a “uterus donor” while he did the real work. Fact.

      Thanks for commenting.

  • Boricua in Texas

    I had the very same feelings you did, but I processed them differently. I have ranted and raved and whined aloud all through this journey.

    Becoming a mother entails a profound change, yes, but I have never seen it as a rebirth. Perhaps I feel this way because my children are 14 and 8, the baby years long gone now. But it is also because I have actively and stubbornly refused to define myself by the act of motherhood. I have always fought fiercely for my personal time and space, for a singular identity separate from family.

    Still, I am a mother, and no longer the owner of my own destiny. I have made and will continue to make most major decisions, in life and work, putting the welfare of my family first.

  • Sandra

    This post makes me never want to have children. Perhaps this makes me selfish or not a real “woman”, but I enjoy my life and independence too much to travel this path. There are too many people in the world already, so perhaps my path, is a more noble path.

  • jmr


    I think that just maybe, if someone had validated the struggle I had and cried with me like you did your friend, instead of telling me its supposed to be hard or trying to help me figure out how to make my baby sleep better, burp better or whatever, identified with my disappointment in this new woman who yells and gets angry and wants to run away sometimes…maybe I wouldn’t have gotten so depressed I was physically sick without knowing what was wrong and have to be hospitalized and go on meds for 5 months so I could sleep and be happy again sometimes. I think all of these things in our culture- isolation from family and community, work separated from home for men and women after the industrial revolution creating a new role of SAHM, and the fact that people seem to be so damned forgetful or dishonest or silent about these feelings of not wanting to be mom all the time, or maybe a handful of people who don’t feel that way and think therefore no one else should either- all have contributed to ppd which is maybe just what most of us feel taken to a clinical level because it didn’t get helped when it was solely a yucky feeling.

    I read the first 20 comments give or take and decided it was the only comment section I have ever not regretted reading. Kudos to the thoughtful and interesting conversation, at least as far as I read.

  • Michelle

    When my twins were born–after IVF and a pretty “full” life–I was amazed how lost I felt with new motherhood. I kept waiting for their “real” mother to come home and claim them so that I could reclaim my life. Finally I admitted to my dad how much I wasn’t enjoying new motherhood. How difficult it was. . .how much work it was. . .how lost I was feeling. I felt like a total failure because I wanted these babies so desperately. With such incredible empathy, my dad said to me, “Michelle, you are not the first mother to feel like this.” I can’t even describe the relief I felt that I wasn’t a total freak mother or that I hadn’t made the worse decision of my entire life.

  • Lindsay

    What a great post! I felt this same sadness when I first became a mom & am apprehensive as I prepare to have my 2nd baby in a few weeks. Thank you for not sugar-coating anything & just telling it like it is.

  • S

    In India, new motherhood is really called a new life for a mother. A rebirth, so to speak.

  • Ali

    I found this a very hard thing to read, for many reasons. My own mother was so caught up in losing her identity that she left me and my sister and my father to go find herself. I worry that I will do that to my child. Reading this made me feel like I was ten years old again, watching her walk out the door. I have a hard time reading things that down play the father’s role in parenting. I watched my own father give my sister and I everything he had, every day. Reading this made me angry that you appeared to care so little for what your husband was going through, for how hard it was for him to walk away from you and his child. I know that your post is about your personal journey and your feelings, and you have acknowledged that you love your husband and his part in your child’s life. My reply is about how your post made me feel.

    • LynnZMbH

      I found this comment more touching than the article. It is so sad when women put themselves before their children. Your father sounds like an amazing person.

  • lois

    …and just when we think we’ve figured out being a mom….the kids grow up….and we have to figure out how to un-mom ourselves.

    I am the mom of two amazing men, aged 30 and 28. They don’t need a mom, but they still enjoy having me in their lives…I think. 😉

    The oldest son got married to an amazing young woman last year and the youngest son met an amazing young woman last November.

    It’s time for me to step aside and be loving and gracious…..and not try to “mother” anymore.

    When they’re little it feels like a lifetime, when they’re grown-up if feel like it was momentary.

    The challenges and the joys of motherhood…..I will hold them in my heart for all my time on earth……

  • Ingrid

    I never felt like that until I gave up my job. Until then I simply had added mother to my identity. It was good, I was knowledgable and I had fun. I knew what to do and what was going on. Even adding in my second was easy as pie. Things were right in the world, even when I had PPD with my second, I felt like myself. Nothing lost.

    Then I gave up my job and now with four (7, 6, 3 and 1) I feel lost and not like myself. Someone always needs something from me.

    I think my husband was the one who was most changed with our first child. I think men go through that same process women do. At least if they are worth being called ‘dad’. There isn’t anything that he wouldn’t do for the kids or for me. He also lost that selfish entitlement to my body. because now it is just for nursing, or growing babies, so it definitely changed him as well, and our relationship. Now instead of waking up in the middle of the night and wanting some lovings, I poke him to get the baby so I can nurse him. Real men help out and women should allow them to be parents as well

  • Ashley Austrew

    This should be required reading for every woman in the world who becomes a mom. It is soul changing–soul shattering, at times–and it is so much harder and uglier than it’s made out to be. Beautiful, too. But beauty and ugliness are two side of the same coin, and as a mother you experience both. You experience the most exasperating, awe-inspiring, empty, full, lonely, lovely transition, and no matter who is there or who helps, it’s always something you ultimately face alone. And it’s hard. It’s so hard. Luckily we have the internet, and people like you, and posts like this to remind us that we aren’t really as alone in this as we thought.

  • Alyssa Lorraine

    This sense of smug superiority for having a child is so weird. Congrats, you got knocked up and carried the child to term. Wow, amazing. You deserve like, medals and shit because you “evolved” past the people who don’t.

    God, stop with the navelgazing already. You’re the same person you were before you got yourself knocked up. You’re just stuck with a kid, and for some reason you feel it makes you superior. Whatever.

    • renegademama

      Uh oh. Somebody’s bitter.

  • Christina

    I absolutely love the way this PERSONAL NARRATIVE in the form of an OPINION PIECE has brought out every overly concerned, rigid, pompous, point-missing, center-of-the-universe nit-picker in cyberspace. Clearly this means that it was exceptionally well done!!

    Personally, I’d like to thank you for this. As others have said, I was right there with you for every word. The fact that others are unable or unwilling to experience the wonder and pain of biological motherhood does not in any way invalidate or diminish the experiences of those who have. It is a transformative rite of passage that is incommunicable to those who haven’t been there. You can’t prepare for it, you can’t undo it, and you certainly can’t pretend that the biology of motherhood is make believe. Which brings me back to the nit-pickers.

    Nit-pickers, please read: this isn’t about you. This is about someone else. If you do not agree with or relate to it, please feel free to share your own experience with us, but please don’t attempt to minimize or belittle the honest outpourings of another human being. It is in poor taste.

  • Mommapotomus

    This was spot on. I have six children. I have an 11 year old, an 8 year old…. triplet 3 year old stepchildren….and a 3 month old. It happened each time, even with the stepchildren coming into my life (at 7 mo. old). It has been quite a “journey” for me….discovering myself as a mother to six people. I don’t even know what it feels like to SIT when I eat anymore….but I can honestly say….I LOVE every minute of it….well ALMOST every minute. 😉

  • Maggie

    Thank You so much.

    I read this at a particularly difficult time during the first few weeks of my daughter’s life- when I was feeling guilty about having these very thoughts- and it helped so much to have it put so truthfully and eloquently. I have kept it up on my computer and read it regularly and now, a few weeks on, I feel more empowered and eager to meet myself as a mother. We had some first smiles this week, and I can already feel an ease in the transition, due in part to your words.

  • Brogeybear

    I just have to tell you how much I adore this post. It is so true. I keep reading it over and over, and it was actually the catalyst for me finally jumping in the deep end of something just for me!

  • Cassandra

    *sobs profusely*
    This is where I am now. I feel trapped, isolated, alone. I was 18 when I had my first child, 23 with baby number 2 and here I sit a year after that birth, pregnant with my third child. I NEVER got to know who I was alone, living for only me. My husband and I married upon finding out I was pregnant. WE NEVER got to know who we are as a couple without children. I feel like a stubborn ass being pulled into motherhood because I must but I am screaming and crying out, just let me be! I just want to be alone. I just want to be me…but me is a foreign concept. Me is someone I have never gotten to know because I went from being a child to being a mother. I’m not expecting a pity party, I made my choices and I DO love my children. My body has not been my own for 2 years, and now another 2 ahead as I continue to grow this child and nurse into early toddlerhood. Call my feelings what you must, but my heart is still grieving the loss of the woman I never got to be.

  • LynnZMbH

    This was a very touching article to read, and I appreciate your honesty with your struggle. That being said, I have to disagree with the notion that women grieve the loss of their previous lives when the become a mother. I became a mother WAY TOO YOUNG. 17 actually. Perhaps living in a dysfunctional family caused me to deal with stressful, unexpected situations better. I never felt like I lost anything. I felt like I gained purpose. I was very young, certainly not ready for the responsibility. But I persevered. Because I had to. My daughter is 12 now and I just turned 30. She is, and has always been my life. And I am happy for that. I don’t feel any regret or grievance about losing my childhood or youth. I have found the time for myself when I can. In moderation. When I became a mother I wasn’t even legally an adult, but I put on my big girl panties and rolled with the punches. I don’t want to seem harsh. I do sympathize with those who struggle with post partum depression. I truely do. I just hope that women can enjoy the transition into mother hood. Looking back on memories of independence as just that… a memory. Appreciate the time that you had for yourself before motherhood. Some of us didn’t have any.

  • Jennifer Sassaman

    that’s it. right there. the best description I’ve heard of it so far.
    I do mourn for that woman yet I would be devastated if I woke up tomorrow and found it was 1995 or 2005 or whatever and I had my youth back but no Madeleine.
    I told a woman at my church that I felt like I had died, (a woman with a child of her own) but rather than say “oh yes, it is hard making that transformation” she called in a committee b/c they were worried about me and that I obviously needed therapy.
    thanks for making it all fell recognizable.
    you call it “beautiful catastrophe” I called it “happy apocalypse”
    thank you thank you thank you.

  • Alyssa

    Thank you for writing this!!! I am glad someone put my thoughts in to words!!

  • Sidney

    Thank you for writing this! As a new mother I have had to deal with PPD and trying to find who I am now being a mother. I could never convey to my husband just how I feel. I plan on having him read this to help him understand why i bawl and talk about losing my identity after having my son. I love my sweet baby boy more than life itself and would never go back but I always miss the dead me. I cant thank you enough for putting into words what most new mothers cant!

  • Kerry

    Wow, what an excellent post. I feel like you spoke for me and wrote what I’ve been trying to tell my husband all along. I have a 3 year old and 4 month old twins. All my family live overseas. I adore being a mom and I love my children but it’s hard work and such a big change.

  • rose

    Thank you. I needed to read this. Thank you I am not alone..

  • Danae

    I’m not even a mother and I was so moved by this piece. Thank you.

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve thought these very things a thousand times. Thank you for putting them out there. I am not alone.

  • Daddy

    Yes, I’m a man. Old one, even. Wrong side of sixty. Had kids, who had kids. I was directed to this article by a mommy I love very much.

    Could not resist adding something, from a different viewpoint than “LovingHusband”. No that I disagreed with him – he has a valid point, too, and some people here may be guilty of not having considered the male angle – just like men often don’t quite get “it”.

    My contribution (?) is to add a few things:

    * Women are never sexier than when they are pregnant. Except after they are pregnant and “mothering”.
    * Women (and, yes, men) who are “stay at home” contribute an enormous amount to the future of the children they guide, and to every one destined to come in contact with that future ‘person’. Just like we never forgot our mothers, our children will (after a few very rough teenage years) come around and remember us affectionately, as well. I already KNOW that. I’m sure many of you do, as well. The reward is great. And wait till your babies have babies, … but I guess that’s another article.
    * To those ladies reading this who have not yet become a mother, my best (unsolicited, I know) advise is: spend real time (not just ‘quality’) with the male (I won’t volunteer ‘man’) who may possibly become the father of your child. Envision him in a father role. If he fails the vision, consider trading him in for a better model. Do it now. Do NOT assume you can fix him, any more than a man can ‘fix’ a woman. Nobody can fix your crazy girlfriend, right?
    * Whatever you do, try to make sure that you are ready to give up your current life (OK you will never be ‘ready’ but you should believe you are, AFTER much thinking and talking to real mothers of various ages). Lose the fantasy of being a mother, and accept the great mission of being one. If in doubt, … wait a while.
    * Closely related, make sure the potential father is equally ready. I suggest you should both WANT a baby if, when and because your excellent relationship is ready to carry the burden and the joy. Get a place, have an income, do some pre-baby things. You’ll be glad you did.
    * Do NOT ‘accidentally’ become pregnant in a childish attempt to cement the iffy relationship. Proven to fail every time. EVERY time.
    * After giving birth, try to remember the father and his role. He did not give birth to a baby, but he also ‘dies’ in much the same way that this excellent article describes. But he might not get the rewarding bonding and other positive feedback feelings, especially if the new mom is so overwhelmed by the baby pressures that she forgets he even exists. Include him. Easy for him to go astray at this time … you’ve been warned.
    * Remember that as parents, it’s your job to guide your offspring in such a way that they become the best they can be. Probably better than you, if you’re lucky. That implies that they will some day leave the nest. That will be a sad day, but one that you will welcome if you’ve invested wisely. If so, they’ll be back often. Hopefully, not TOO often unless they bring grandkids.

    Thanks for reading. And now, go check on the baby’s breathing. Please. Just to make sure. Like a good Renegade.

    • Erica / Northwest Edible Life

      This is such a wonderful comment!

    • Allison

      You rock!
      And so does Janelle for writing this.

    • Rachel

      Spot. On.

      Go, Daddy!

      • Rachel Ernst

        Woops, I noticed another Rachel on here, so I’m adding my last name. That’s it.

  • One Funny Motha

    Um, I think I love you. Don’t listen to the h8ers. You speak the truth & that makes people uneasy. I’ve struggled with this truth. It is taboo. Mothers cannot say this. Mothers cannot be anything but overjoyed with and absorbed in their children. Mothers cannot be people anymore with complex feelings because they are mothers & more is expected of them.

    Thank you for saying this. I’m actually writing about this exact struggle right now (for a book I hope to one day publish) so it was interesting and coincidental to read this today.

    • Melissa

      I’d call that book “I Love My Kids, But…” That’s a common phrase around my parts, anyway. As if living with other people was easy, even when they don’t piss themselves and hide half-eaten sandwiches in your sock drawer.

  • Jen

    Thank you for writing this! As a single mom of 2 and a SAHM, I am often overwhelmed and I have had these feelings often and every time I tried to voice them I was called “selfish” or “uncaring” and told to stuff it. Glad to know I am “normal” 🙂

  • Sophia

    Dear Janelle
    I’ve read and reread this post and I want to thank you for putting into words what so many mothers feel but find hard to put into words about what “dies” at a deeper level when we begin this new chapter in our lives… There is great power in naming and bringing ghosts out of the closet and your words and direct style are hugely liberating and comforting in what is still a taboo area to speak about. I work with women and couples preparing for birth and parenting, and also hold mother mother’s circles, and when we share openly about what we have left behind, something changes inside of us, and we can fully welcome all the incredible gifts motherhood brings to our lives.
    Thank you for writing this post
    With love

  • Kate

    I came across this post not long after you wrote it. My son is 7 months old. When I first read it, I thought- wow, so true. Becoming a mom is life altering in the best way possible. After reading this post, I goofed around on your blog and found so many great posts. You are hystrical! I read you as I sit in the supply closet at work and pump. A great way to spend those 15 minute intervals twice daily. Ha!

    It wasn’t until last night that I had an experience that made me ‘get’ this post on another level. I was in grad school last year while pregnant. Every few months the grad school gals get together for a happy hour. I’ve brought my son to the last few since everybody has or loves kids, and I enjoy showing him off. Well, last night I made arrangements for the little guy to stay home with daddy so mommy could have a night with the girls. He’s in the stage that he wants to grab EVERYTHING- except of course the toy I want him to have. I was so looking forward to a night where I could eat and drink a few adult beverages without- a) little hands grabbing at my food or drink,, b) little hands grabbing and pulling my hair or jewlery every 3 seconds, and c) entertaining my little darling who has the attention span of a gnat. Well, sad to say happy hour didn’t happen, life happened and all the gals bailed last minute. I was so disappointed when I got home. My sweet husband went out and bought a bottle of wine for us to share to replicate the happy hour and cheer me up. It wasn’t until later that the real reason for my disappointment dawned on me. I was looking forward to spending an evening as “Kate” not as “Mommy.” Once I returned home, it was back to the hair pulling, grabbing for anything and everything, breastfeeding all the time, and not making it through dinner without little man screaming his head off. It was then that I ‘got’ your post on a new level. I love being a mom, but the carefree, drinks after work, relax on the couch part of my life is over. I love what we’ve got going but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the old life sometimes.

    Well, that turned into a novel of a comment. But, all that to say, I think your blog is fabulous. I love your candor. Keep writing because from the looks of it, you’ve got plenty of fans who love reading the writings of a woman who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. Thanks!

  • Anne

    Someone in one of my mom groups linked this to me. I’m having a really hard time right now. I have 11 younger siblings (I was second mom to half of them), and until age 23 was in an abusive cultic home. When I got out I didn’t want to have kids for at least 5 years. I was still finding myself, because I wasn’t allowed to be a teenager in my teens or a young adult in my 20’s, I had to conform to my father.

    I got married two months after I escaped, to the man of my dreams (I had known him for 2.5 years). Eight months later found me unexpectedly pregnant. I was really angry and depressed, and at the time didn’t believe in abortion, so I kept it.

    She’s now 15 months old and totally adorable. I love her to death. I’ve had really bad PPD, plus (I’m pretty sure) chronic depression, neither of which I’ve done anything about because I just plain can’t afford it (and I don’t know if any antidepressants are OK to take while breastfeeding). I’m having a really hard time because she is seriously the clingiest baby on earth…and I’m still trying to figure out who *I* am apart from anyone else, and I feel like my entire life right now revolves around feeding her and getting her to sleep. I feel stuck, and I hate it. It takes anywhere from 2-4 hours to get her to sleep every night, she nurses about every 2 hours in the daytime (I don’t want to stop breastfeeding her, either), and she wants to be held most of the rest of the time. It’s exhausting. And super super frustrating.

    My husband is great, and does more than most other husbands (get your asses into gear, guys, lol) but like you said it’s not the same. He will never be The Mother to our daughter. He will have his own special relationship as her father, but he doesn’t hear her stir or make noise in her sleep, while asleep, and be instantly awake. His body hasn’t kept her alive for 23 months so far. His sleep isn’t interrupted by night nursings (though I do wake him up if she needs a diaper change!). Her cries don’t affect him the same way.

    I feel like I never really got to know me as a person before my entire life and body was taken over. I try not to have ill feelings towards her, because it’s really not her fault, but I get so frustrated that out of my entire life, I only had 10 months I could actually do whatever I wanted. I hardly have any time with my husband anymore (he works nights).

    I get angry at people like my mom who have way more kids than they can take care of, only do a half-ass job anyway (yay detachment parenting), and pawn it off on their oldest as soon as she’s able to carry the kid (in my case, I was 8 when I started taking a lot of care of the younger siblings my mom continued to pop out every few years). I still haven’t healed from the abuse of my childhood, and suddenly I have another mini person to try and raise as un-screwed-up as I can. Especially since my only reference point is detached, children-are-inherintly-evil base, it’s really hard to remember stuff like, “she’s really not trying to push my buttons, she’s just a baby, it’s a normal part of her development”.

    I get jealous of people who think about having a kid and end up getting a dog or a cat. I’m terrified of having another kid anytime soon (but I still haven’t gotten rid of the idea that I *might* want another kid when *I’m* ready). I get resentful because not only did I have a pregnancy when I didn’t want one, it was a horrible pregnancy and a horrible birth. Nothing about it was nice. I tried to be excited over it, just because everyone else was. Now I’ve got stretch marks, a scar, and boobs that will never be the same, and I’m lucky if I get 6 hours of sleep in a night (and I usually spend an equal amount of time trying to get her to sleep or back to sleep…that’s not even including the two naps she takes in the daytime). People always say “sleep when the baby sleeps”…that’s nice, but it doesn’t work when the ONLY place she will sleep is in my arms, and I don’t sleep well like that. Not to mention I could never do the whole side-lying nursing thing because I’m not shaped right.

    All that to say…it’s fucking hard. I try to convince myself it’s all worth it (and sometimes I do feel like it), but I’m really still not 100% there. I love the hugs and kisses and chubbiness and snuggles, and I try to make the most of it, but honestly…I still wouldn’t have chosen to be a mom. It’s a choice you can never un-make. I wish I had realized that, back when I kept her because I was still firmly entrenched in the conservative Christian values and was pro-“life”. Having a baby makes some people more pro-life…having a baby made me decidedly pro-choice.

    Motherhood is something I’ll never be able to get away from. I hate that. I had just gotten out of a place where my life was lived for me and I was powerless under a tyrant. I feel like I’m back in a place like that, only this tyrant is cute and chubby and says “mamamamama” in a little baby voice and can make me laugh even though I’m sobbing because I’m so frustrated that she won’t go to sleep, or so frustrated that I can’t even do the dishes or cook and my house is a wreck.

    I don’t always hate it. I don’t always get upset. I’m actually pretty patient with her. I love her snuggles and hugs and kisses and all the funny things she does and the way she gets so excited when she nurses and how she pats me lovingly while nursing. It’s not ALL bad. But the loss of my freedom frustrates me the most.

    Aaaand there is my vent for the day. Thank goodness Grandma just took the baby so I could even type this out. I wish I had a car and could afford therapy (even though guess what…I’d probably have to take her!). Now, off to have a cigarette, chocolate, maybe some wine, and enjoy the few non-mom hours I have.

  • Kali

    Hi Janelle,
    I am so excited for you that this post has opened up new writing platforms. It is a really great piece.
    My experience has had a few different types of death and rebirths. I actively became pregnant after being with their father for 3 months. I was 30 years old. But the moment I saw the double lines I started screaming and crying hysterically, ‘my life is over’ on repeat. But I think after that I just looked forward to the new experience.
    I had 3 hellish years of 24/7 raising 2 babies due to a husband who was out living it up with new girlfriends and social life, etc. While we were married (and before birth of second).
    Then I had 2 years in the courts trying to argue to the magistrate that mothers were more important than fathers in the formative years – he was trying to take the 1 year old and 3 year old 50/50. The magistrate even called me disingenuous and a liar for saying that I was still breastfeeding my son as I was able to be in court for the day.

    That was the day that I died as a mother and became a non-identity. I had the chance to pick up the pieces of the old me, but I was hollow. I worked full-time to support the children, but had no time with them. I did actually regain some of the old me (vacuous partying on my weekends off – a reminder that the old me was not actually somebody I have mourned, as I spent my 20s just treading water until I became the real me).
    But now with time and healing I have found my way back to the mother I was and always wanted to be. I still have to work, that reality will always be there, but I am dropping down to 4 days a week so my son who is now 4 can have some memory of us together in his childhood.
    Today I am a new me. And I will be a new version again in 6 years and 16 years as they gain more independence.
    Letting go of expectations of how I thought motherhood and/or my life should be has been my biggest lesson.
    Thanks again.
    p.s. I can’t wait for my 35 year old sister to have a baby so she can become less selfish!

  • Erin C

    I don’t think I can say anything that dozens of people haven’t already said, but I will say Thank You!

    Not only did this help heal the guilt I had for having these feelings, but it also helped put into perspective another “death” that I was going through. The death of the mother I was planning to be. I never questioned the fact that I was going to be able to breastfeed, but even after 3 lactation consultants, supplement after supplement, advice, and multiple pumps (oh the pumping)… it just wasn’t in the cards. And that strong new mother I was in my head died, and was replaced with another shattered shell of me. This has been the glue that is helping put those shattered pieces together. So thanks for that!

  • Anja

    I like your blog. I think you’re hilarious. I did find this post rather disappointing though. Now, I have no doubt that this is simply how you feel. Actually, I have no doubt that this is how a lot of mothers feel. What’s missing – I find – is the realization that a lot of the things/changes you’re complaining about, are really just a direct and predictable results of choices you made.

    If you choose to have children with a man who is going to be an inequitable parent – fair enough. A lot of men really aren’t that great with kids and it’s predictable that they’ll have a very different and in many ways more distant relationship with their children than most mothers. I wouldn’t have had kids with that type of guy, but that’s just me. I had a kid with someone who already brought two little ones into the relationship. I knew I wasn’t going to be on my own with this, because (no doubt due to a very uninvolved ex) he was already the ‘main parent’ to his existing children. That, by the way, also shows, that mothers too can easily choose to opt-out – many do. I didn’t want to opt-out of course, but I did want for us to be equal parents. I have no aspiration to be that ‘special’ person that many mothers like to view themselves as. I don’t subscribe to the ‘magic’ of motherhood. I’m no more of a parent than he is.

    Your man goes back to work soon after the child is born and therefore the baby doesn’t affect his life as much? Well why don’t you do the same, if you feel that’s an issue of some sort? I returned to work after two weeks (as did he), both of us work flexibly, on a similar salary each, so fit childcare around our work commitments. For the rest of the hours (around 15 a week), we have a lovely childminder. I spend no more time with the baby than he does. I couldn’t see myself taking excessively long maternity leave or quitting my job, or career even, altogether.

    If you don’t insist on breastfeeding exclusively, you can split the disrupted sleep pretty equally. We do. I express for nighttime feeds to make those less of a big deal for both of us.

    Sure, the physical changes – well if your figure mattered to you (sounds like it did in your case), I get it. Mine didn’t, I never considered myself that hot, so no loss there.

    Now, I’m not saying having kids doesn’t turn your life upside down to a pretty considerable extent. I had a 3-year practice run with my partners existing little ones, so prior to committing to my own, I knew what I’d be giving up and had in fact given up a lot of it already. Because whether they’re yours or not, living with kids is – let’s face it -, no matter how rewarding and lovely at times, a huge fucking inconvenience. But really, I can’t say I gave up much of myself. Though I’ve no doubt also made huge efforts opt-out of the mommy-culture most mothers seem to slip into following childbirth. But maybe my pre-mommy life just wasn’t that amazing. 😉

  • Brandon Landis

    This is a superb piece of writing. Sharing it.


  • KB

    Hello , I came across this blog because my mom sent me the link. I found your blog interesting and full of knowledge. It got me thinking about whether or not I would want to have kids when I get older. (I am almost eighteen now so I wont have kids anytime soon 🙂 ) but your blog gave me some insight on what it is like to me be a mom. 🙂 thanks

  • nasta

    so beautifully written!

  • Meyser

    I saw this post on the blogher pages and immediately wanted to let you know I’m so glad you posted this. It is spot on. And it is something nobody ever tells you before you actually have the child. Thank you so much!!

  • Hether

    I started kayaking when I was pregnant. I fully expect my son to be a part
    of my kayaking and camping adventures. I am also surrounded by folks who support my journey to

    • Hether

      to kayak with a kid in tow. I am a full time working mom with a family that schedules time to kayak every weekend of the summer.

      Not kayaking=insanity

      I love your blog. It is nice for someone to finally acknowledge that being a mother is lovely, hard, and identity challenging.

  • Natalia Walth

    Absolutely beautiful writing. There is no better way to say it.

  • Jenny Rose

    That was a really good read! Thanks for sharing that. So much of what you wrote resonates with what I went through with my daughter Jade. That time at age 21 was so hard for me. I didn’t really ever talk about it, because I have always hated admitting a problem, or feeling weak… but I either had post partum depression or I was seriously and deeply mourning the loss of my former life… or most likely both. I went from super social, lots of friends, fun, free and crazy to being with the man of my dreams, yet with a cost… rushing to get married becuase we were madly in love, a flurry of romance in the first year and then bam– living in a dirty old duplex, poor, and all of a sudden I had to take on this new role and play a part as someone who was supposed to be responsible and take care of another human being. I fought back hard for some of those days of freedom, with random parties we would have, they were extreme and it was like an attempt to be free for just one night. Most days though I remember it was grey, that was the feeling and color that would most explain those days: grey. Of course I have adored my daughter Jade from day one, insanely in love with my little “Bo Bo”… there were a million beautiful days, where I felt joy and felt like I might be finding myself in this role…but I had to challenge myself to actually love being a mom and if I was honest with myself I didn’t love being a mom, it was so hard. I was super lost. This article felt like it was me writing the words. It actually made me well up with tears, because I have never really talked about how hard it was. Now that I am older, 30 years old, and I have confidence again and a voice, and I have become myself through time…I have no problem talking about it, but if I would have even understood back then, I would have felt shame and my face would have turned red… Being a mom is really really hard, and for those that find it easy, you have some sort of golden ticket in life a free pass to advance to Go and collect $200 and by pass all the BS. I suppose there are those lucky ones, my guess is not too many. My grey phase was probably longer than average though… My second child was easier, and I also moved to Hawaii right after giving birth to him, so that may have helped a lot, the sunshine is healing. 🙂

  • Gloria

    So beautiful and true.

    But then…

    But then sometimes you give all of yourself to these babies and you raise them up and they’re hard and that’s okay because it’s about them now, not you. Not really. And that’s okay, too. But maybe things don’t always work out that great between you and the husband. It’s not ideal, and it’s not what you planned for (you didn’t have your fingers crossed behind your back when you said, “yeah. yep. I totally do.”) But there you have it. And then you find that you have to divide your time between being on duty and and on call and being on hold an waiting for them to come home. And you spend half your time in this limbo land where your babies kind of don’t exist, but they actually do, and you have to adjust to the stop and start of every other week parenting. The connection you describe doesn’t go away. Not exactly. It’ll never actually go away. But the woman you mourned the loss of kind of gets reborn, only she’s different – she’s kind of lost her memory the way those characters from the daytime soap operas do sometimes when they die but then it turns out they’re alive. And then you have to get to know her all over again and you find out who she’s become since you last wished her farewell. And she’s a little bit like the person you last knew, only different because she’s still, in fact, been transformed by these remarkable people that she gave her nights and youthful breasts to. So, it’s weird. All of the varying ways we mom our babies…they all are so different. Except, I guess, they’re not.

    All of this is the long, late, three beer, post parenting support group way of saying – I love your blog. 🙂 Thanks for writing this. You’re the best.

  • Tupla

    I weeped as I read it. I weeped because I suddenly understood what I have been missing these past four years since becoming a mother, and why I have been feeling so confused on some deep level. I have been missing the permission to grieve, to grieve the loss of the person I once was and of my pre-baby life. I was never diagnosed with PPD but I cried for weeks after the birth of my son and couldn’t understand why and what was wrong with me, and I had nobody to talk to about it. Because, like you said, its never talked about. And I stopped crying after a few weeks, but the confusion stayed for the whole four years, until this very moment, because I never realized that I need to grieve this loss. Thank you for making me realize that. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful I found your blog.

    • Alison

      I totally agree….I didn’t realize until I read this that I hadn’t let go of that woman before kids. My kids are 6 and 2!!

  • Charlotte

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this.

  • Jhanis

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG! new follower here <3

  • tabitha

    Amazing. Thank you!

  • Andrea

    Thank you for this. It’s like reading my own thoughts and feelings, but your words are much less jumbled than mine. This brought tears to my eyes, as I’m only 15 weeks into this whole motherhood thing and have struggled so hard with the loss of freedom and self. I wanted this baby and I planned for this baby, but I was no prepared for the shattering and all-encompassing identity shift that would come along with my beautiful daughter.

    I have made a commitment to normalize the struggles of early motherhood and it’s always exciting when I find someone of the same ilk.

  • Alison

    This brought tears to my eyes….I’ve been trying to recapture that woman before kids. I think I just haven’t mourned her yet. She is gone…time to move on!

  • Jill

    This is a beautiful and eloquent post of the deep transformation that does take place (but isn’t talked about) in becoming a mother. Thank you–

  • Lisa F.

    “…and you’re watching him breathe so you can breathe”

    I’ve read this post oh, about 30 times and each time, I cry. I’ve wanted to be a mother since I can remember (I would even practice going into labor as a child) and when I finally because a mother, when I was alone with my child I asked myself “What have I done?” I felt horrible, how could I feel that way and still love my boy? I missed me and the life I had, but I didn’t know how to explain that to myself, let alone express it out loud to anyone. This post changed my life. Thank you.

  • Sara

    WOW! That’s exactly it! You’ve summarized my last year! Thank you! I thought I was alone with this feeling! THANK YOU!!!

  • Sarah Q

    Thank you. I struggled with this immensely after the birth of my first child. And I couldn’t make sense of the “this baby completes me” sentiments I was hearing. I felt like the person I knew of myself had vanished and I missed her. I still do sometimes. But months went by and a new identity was forming that is fun, too. My second baby was born last month, and I was so encouraged to discover how much more I enjoyed it when I wasn’t mourning so much of my identity. Thanks for this strong words on motherhood, a beautiful and crazy journey.

  • Melissa Vanni

    So perfect. Where was this when I had my first son?! Loving your site, thank you for your honesty.

  • Beck

    Thank you for writing this. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what has happened to me since my baby was born 5 months ago. Part of what makes it so confusing to figure out is – like you said – NO ONE talk about this part. People talk about “postpartum depression” but what about just “postpartum…normal?” It’s pretty much the same thing if we are being honest. In my opinion the more honest you are the more likely people are to act like you are nutso. It’s so strange. It’s like the best kept secret ever.

    Anyway, thanks for writing.


  • Carrie

    This is such an extraordinary gift. Thank you for every word. You found a way to express what has weighed on my heart and stuck in my throat.

  • Brodie

    These are best words I have ever read.

  • Clare Greig

    Wow this is a beautiful read, such depth.

  • kortney

    I am 27. Never been married and have no children. This article is spot on one of the reasons I am glad I haven’t had children yet. I am simply not ready. I like sleeping in past 7am. Running out the door to go anywhere. Going out on a random night. I understand exactly what you’re saying about the woman you use to be dying. And I’m confused as to why people are getting all “women’s rights” about it. Maybe not everyone feels that way about becoming a mother. I completely see how it changes you as a woman. So, thank you for this.

  • Lauren

    My son is two years old and I still find myself mourning my former life. I would never change how things are now but becoming a mother definitely signals the beginning of a different life and in all honesty I wish somebody had spoken to me about it. Thank you for writing this post and helping me to relize that i’m not the only Mum in the world who has felt this way.

  • Samantha

    I did not read all the comments but I did read a majority. I was a secessful medical professional. I stopped working to travel with my husband and I have continued not to work to be working full time as a stay at home mom. I have felt the same feelings as this writer and I am thankful someone put it into words. I have tried to tell my friends how I feel and I have been made to feel guilty for these feelings. ( I was late having children and then 5 yrs of infertility made me an old parent with friends that are still fight infertility or just do not want children). I was so thankful to become pregnant and I remember trying to enjoy the pregnancy and I never thought to enjoy that last little time I would have to just be me, I am now a different me. I miss being able to just jump into things head first and now I have to think how it is going to affect these little people. I miss the old me but I would not give up the new me for anything in the world. Nothing changes you like these little ones and we should be able to talk about the me before them and not feel guilty.

    • Samantha

      successful sorry typing and doing breathing treatments.

  • Gwen

    My boys are 5 and 7 now, and sometimes they wish me dead:(

    My response in my head is always- I’m already dead.

    Thanks for helping me

  • Julia Winn

    Beautiful writing. Loved it.

  • emily

    Eves fault for eating the apple off the tree

  • Andrea Smith

    I remember being pregnant with my first and the feeling that there was no going back. I had tied my heart to another being and that no matter what happened, the state of my heart was inexorably connected to this person. They could break my heart in a thousand different ways, but I was helplessly gone already. The love was too deep.

    Then, bringing home a baby from the hospital. I was exhausted from 42 hours of labor and our first night in the hospital with a baby, and I could not shut my eyes. This little person depended on ME. It was up to ME to make sure her needs were met and she was fed and diapered and warm and safe. It was an entirely new sensation. I’d cared for small babies before, but never had I had this intense feeling of responsibility.

    Now we are expecting number three and I’m realizing that the “need meeting” part of parenting is probably the simplest, while the “guiding” part is much more complicated. But I am so blessed to have been able to start this journey. Rarely have I looked back with even a tinge of regret over the person who is now dead. And no matter what I go on to do with my time and my life, I will do so as a mother, and there is no taking that away from me now.

  • Julia Winn

    beautifully written tribute to the world of the mama.

  • g

    kindly, gently consider: Freedom of speech. Freedom to choose how you will raise your child/children. Freedom to choose parenting or career or both. Freedom to refrain from being judgemental. Freedom of acceptance. Gratitude for the chemical change that brings us from womanhood to motherhood, a deeper, nurturing attitude towards all living beings. Remember fellow Americans how blessed you are.

  • dad

    agree with your copy about being a mum, but you have no fucking idea about being a dad

    • 4 weeks old NEW DAD

      Totally agree here with DAD. Well written from the perspective of the mother. But I’m guessing your husband was a complete useless tool once baby was born because you clearly have no idea about being a father or what a father has to also endure.

      • Lauren

        I would love to know. My husband is a wonderful father, but I feel like we are strangers now. He doesn’t talk about what it is to be a dad, so I have no idea. Could you maybe elaborate? I think if dads have a similar experience, it would be great to know. It wouldn’t feel so lonely and bizarre if moms knew they weren’t alone in this.

  • Kristin

    I read this with mixed feelings. Motherhood should not be all of who we are. My heart breaks for the husbands who have lost their lovers and friends when their wife becomes a mother. Even more sad, the son or daughter who will never know the woman – complete and whole in and of herself – as anything other than an identity to which they now cling at the expense of all else.

  • Tiffany

    I just read this and it’s beautiful and hard and scary and so true. I am a ‘new’ mom (she’s my first and she just turned 1) and this is exactly all I have felt since then. Its been hard to explain, even to my husband but this just fits. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lauren

    Thanks for sharing this. Of all the things people helped me get prepared for during pregnancy, no one uttered a peep about this. When I started talking about it later, all of a sudden other moms grudgingly admitted they went through something similar. I agree that we need to talk about this more. This shouldn’t be a hidden part of motherhood. We try to prepare ourselves for labor and delivery despite not having any idea what it will be like. We should do the same thing for this huge development. Women should know about it, so they feel more comfortable reaching out for support. Otherwise you feel like you are just this strange new person and no one knows why you’re acting different. It makes you feel even more detached! I recently wrote about a bit of my experience on my blog and have found it very therapeutic to write about!

  • Danielle

    I just found this, long after other people have. Thank you. I had my lovey two months ago and had the hardest time expressing what it felt like to enter into motherhood. I thought I was a horrible person. How could I love this child so much but desperately want my old life back? The greatest hurt was how my marriage changed. It broke my heart that we would never be the same. I seriously felt like this post saved me. Yes! This is what it is to become a mother. Nobody tells you this part. Things are much better and I’m settling into my new identity. My husband and I have come back together and figured out this new stage in our marriage. I’m so thankful for this. Once again, thank you.

  • Ken

    Wow, that was beautiful yet absolutely heartbreaking at the same time, thank you for the enlightenment, I never will be able to fully understand, but since becoming a father I can say there is a major shift in perspective, it… Changes a person on a spiritual level, I cry far more easily now for one, and I do understand the loss of your old self to an extent, I understand it every time I look into their eyes, when I smile for how well they are coming along, yet weep knowing that one day they will no longer need me… Much love sister, I bid you well on your journey….

  • Laura

    This post really struck a chord…I’m about to become a mom in less than 2 months. I’m 35 and went through the “will I ever have a family, whaaa, whaaa” phase in my 20s. Eventually I told myself to suck it up and be grateful because yes, someday it likely will happen and I’ll wish I had me and all my time back. Sure enough… here I am. I know I will mourn the loss of my pre-mother self but I can at least do it with the satisfaction of knowing I REALLY took the opportunity to appreciate her… which should (I hope) help with that loss. Time will tell – but this post tells me there are indeed other women out there who can relate to my line of thinking. Thank you for that.

  • Tessa

    The most amazing blog capturing the feelings of new motherhood….made me cry tears of gratitude for the strength of moms, for this beautiful baby whose eyes I stare into in the middle of the night, for who I am and will become as a mother. This is why I am starting the virtual support group for moms….https://www.facebook.com/revolutionarymoms

  • Carlisle

    over a year later, and I cried again. a dear friend of mine just had her first baby, a boy. just this morning. I talked to her this evening, and I had no words. and then I remembered this post.

  • Liz

    And this is why I’m not a mom, and I’m not sure if I ever will be. Having my niece overnight while she was sick (and just 1) and taking her on vacation when she was 18 months old…yeah, she came first. Her needs came first, and so did most of her wants. I wasn’t Mama and, as much as I love her, and as much as I miss her when I don’t get to see her, I was glad to give her back, and I’m not sure I’m ready for that life change when I don’t get to just go out after work, or go away for the weekend.

    So, thank you for putting this out there and reminding us that becoming a mom is not a one-time change – it changes one’s whole existence.

  • Kirsten

    Holy crap! Love your blog. LOVE this post. You’ve certainly hit the nail on the head for me. I am long into my mommy days – mother of 4 who are now 22,19,17 & 16 – but this brought me instantly back 22 years. The terrifying uncertainty, wanting to not lose the person I knew to be me, knowing I shouldn’t be feeling that way, knowing I was somehow undeniably unworthy of mothering based on the written content that was available (ahem…pre-internet days)… How I wish someone just once had known what I was thinking (cuz I dare not speak it) and said, “that fun-loving, carefree girl is gone forever so mourn or do whatever the hell you need to do to get past it because the girl that is here now is going to be stronger than you ever thought possible. And eventually this new life, totally consuming, will be the one you fight to never give up.” Once you get past the utter exhaustion that is! Thank you for keeping it real

  • Enid

    Oh, you have brought me to tears, and back in time just about 5 years. My darling girl, planned and awaited, killed off my old self. Just like you say.

    I loved to craft things, defined myself by what I could do, and then suddenly it took a year to hem 4 curtains. Simple rectangles.

    That first year. Oof. I would have loved to have had another child, but losing another year… I just couldn’t do it.

    Now my daughter’s body is finally not quite my own body; she is amazing and perfect and flawed in her own ways. I’ve changed and bounced back but it’s not the same as before. I don’t think I want it to be the same.

  • Amy

    I’m so glad to have read this post, even if it’s a year after you wrote it.

    I so distinctly remember the first night I brought my first son home from the hospital. I couldn’t stop crying because I was overwhelmed by the enormity of it all: I loved this person so much, and because of that, I would never be free again – even if, as you said above, I left him – or, God forbid, he left me someday. Having a child means being forever tethered to someone. While I had heard so much about the “overwhelming love” a mother feels for a baby, no one had ever told me about how it permanently, completely changes your life, inside and out.

    I longed for my old life, too. It’s gotten easier as my kids get a little older, but there are times when I still physically ache for old times – to make decisions for myself without having to factor in the needs of others; to go on a long, lazy vacation; to spend a whole Saturday reading a book if I want to; to be able to tie one on and suffer through a hangover without interruption.

    My kids have opened up a whole new dimension in my life that I would never want to give back. But it doesn’t mean I can’t long for the days when my life was simpler, too. Thanks for articulating it so beautifully.

  • Summer

    You are amazing and I wish I had your courage. I am seriously in love with your writing/soul right now.

  • Google

    I drop a comment each time I appreciate a article on a blog or if I have
    something to contribute to the discussion. Usually it is triggered by the passion communicated in the
    article I looked at. And on this article I became a mother, and died to live.
    – renegade mothering. I was moved enough to
    post a comment 🙂 I do have 2 questions for you if it’s
    allright. Is it simply me or do some of the responses look like left by brain dead
    people? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional places, I would like to keep up with you.

    Would you list every one of your social sites like your linkedin profile,
    Facebook page or twitter feed?

  • Jess

    Yes. This is perfect, and I’m so glad I read it. I’ve had a hard time with this transition into motherhood, and thought it was just me. I wanted a baby, I LOVE my baby, why isn’t everything “perfect”, why do I miss my old life when my new life is so wonderful? Why do I feel like I’m in mourning? Because I am mourning, while simultaneously feeling more love than I ever imagined. If that’s not a recipe for a fucked up roller coaster ride of emotions, I don’t know what is. So thank you for posting this, and showing moms like me that we’re not alone!


    I have read most of the comments to this article. To those of you that viewed this as a place to air your feminist views, you confused me. I did not relate this article in any way as a threat to my rights as a woman, versus my role as a mom. I am a 61 year old woman, mom, and now grandma. I too lived through the time when women were fighting to be more equal and taken more seriously in the workplace. I don’t believe these two issues had anything to do with each other. My opinion only.

    Now to address this article written about the feelings that relate to becoming a mom. It has been nearly 20 years since I was a first time single mom, but I remember many of the feelings you write about. I took care of my daughter (by myself, with very little help), worked a full time job, maintained the house and car, paid the bills, cooked the meals, did the laundry, took out garbage, you name it I did it all. At the time, I questioned my ability to even keep moving from day to day, but I did because my daughter needed me. Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything. WIth every experience in life, there are good things & bad things. How we deal with them is what molds and shapes us into the people we are becoming. If we embrace that, it’s a beautiful experience.

    I now have the privilege of witnessing my daughter being a mom to her 2 month old daughter. Seeing firsthand what that experience does to a person. The things you mentioned I have seen with her. I watch her stare into her daughter’s eyes endlessly and pick at her like a monkey (that made me laugh out loud). I have also listened to her talk about the sagging boobs, the milk flowing endlessly, the awareness of her baby’s breathing, the friends not having a clue because they aren’t there yet. She has all the doubts, struggles, anger, exhiliration, joy, lonliness, all the emotions you mentioned and too many others to even list. I am watching her change, grow, mature, and morph into the most amazing person first and mom second than even she is aware of. It is beautiful to see. Yet she doubt many times if she can even do this. My answer is always a resounding YES!

    I loved this post, and will be reading other things you write.

  • Nupur

    It is SO good to finally hear it out loud. I ‘became’ a mom two years back, and chose to quit work to be a full time mom. But I had (and sometimes I still do) the feelings you talk about – and wondered if I was being selfish. I mean, what kind of a mom could I be if i envied people going to work, parties, drinking/smoking and all that…rather than be grateful for having this loving baby with me, right?! Oh but how I missed my pre-mommy years, and wished I had appreciated them more. But I could never bring myself to actually say it out loud. Because I was (and am) worried about being mis-judged. So renegademama, thanks to your article, I feel so relieved…relieved that I am not the only one going through these thoughts and emotions. whew! 🙂

  • Ruth

    WOW. Who are you and how the hell did you get into my head? This was me after the birth of my son almost six years ago. It was one of the roughest times in my life but I’d give anything . . . anything, to go back and do it all over again. Thank you for so eloquently putting my feelings into words . . .

  • Deborah

    I Love this, even though I cannot fully identify with it. I “became a mother” for the first time when I had just turned seventeen, and eleven days later I became a wife. I was these things before I ever had the chance to become me, to know anything. Fifteen years and four children later I was so fully ensconced in these roles that I was blindsided when my husband left us. Three years prior to his leaving I started to finally become ME, and he couldn’t handle that I was starting to be more than wife/mother. I grieved then, at rhe end of my marriage….but I also celebrated. The night he never came home I spent in euqal parts crying and laughing. It has been almost four years as a single mother of four but I have grown so much in that time.I will be 34 in a few weeks and I’m still “becoming”. Becoming a mother, becoming an individual, becoming me. I don’t think it ever really stops.

  • Maureen

    A little late to the game here but I just wanted to write and say thank you so much for articulating this incredibly under discussed part of becoming a mom. No one ever talks about it. I can tell you that I was told one billion times to “enjoy every second, it goes so fast” which it DOES but not one person encouraged me to prepare my own heart for the changes ahead. I’ve been a military pilot for ten years and I have never been so blindsided by stress and difficulty as I have during the last two years of motherhood…which is saying something. But the most difficult change, undoubtedly, is the loss of my identity. I feel far less alone in this battle after reading your post! Thank you!!

  • Heather J.

    I have been reading your blog for almost a year now (since I found out I was pregnant with my first, a girl), but this is the first time I read this particular post. I am so glad I did, because it is exactly the light I needed right now.

    I am in my 30’s and have always been seen by friends and family and colleagues as the one who has her shit together, all the time, but I’ll be damned if having a kid did not completely upend that. I think it’s partly hormonal, and partly something that was taking place inside me before I got pregnant, but I am definitely in the throes of depression right now.

    I’m seeking help, but it has affected my work and my relationships, and I can’t help but constantly compare myself to other women I know who didn’t seem to have this problem that I’m having. I love my daughter fiercely, and she is the sweetest and most chill kid, but this shit is hard nonetheless.

    I guess what I’m saying is thank you so, so, so, so much for your blog. Your most recent post also had me in tears (again, partly hormonal, but I think it would have got to me regardless of PPD, because I am a big sappy wuss), and helped me get through my head that I need to evaluate my state of affairs and figure out a way to make things work for me and my new family.

  • Deuce

    Dude. You are an amazing writer. I stumbled across your blog while my first born, a 9 month old little boy ,was napping. My God. I thought I was losing my mind …and come to find out I’m “normal.” Thank you for your honesty, wit and irreverence. You can add another faithful follower to your list!

  • Jamie

    Thank you for this post. Thank you so very, very much. This is my first time on your site but I assure you I will be a regular from now on. How grateful I am to have stumbled on it.

  • Andrea Shuman

    I Love this. <3

  • ktm

    It’s not spoken about enough – so thank you!

  • Sara T.

    Absolutely beautiful truth.

  • Marss

    we didn’t die- we evolved.

  • Cat

    This post was so important to me when I first read it, when my first baby was a baby, and I have read it so many times since, just to remind myself that it’s normal to feel like you lost a limb or something when you became a mother. You can never get your leg back once it’s gone; you can never un-become a mother, even if your child leaves this world before you do.

    I have now passed this article on so many times; today I sent it to a friend, a new mom, who said to me this morning, “But why do I feel like I’ve lost something so huge?”

    Because she has.

  • Lindsay

    So beautiful and eloquent! I just did this initiation for myself around the death of the maiden! Stepping into the mother and moving forward. I started a blog and it has been so healing for me to share my journey. I did not have ppd but it was mentioned as I had big emotions about this death I have been undergoing. I remember the moment that I was feeling so trapped as I held my newborn baby and that I handed him to my partner who was sitting next to me on the couch, and I immediately started crying because that was too far away for me. That moment…The heart strings are very real. Thank you for saying it all. I am ecstatic! I have risen from the ashes of the maiden and am flying into new territory. Mother. ❤️

  • Mim

    I had a hard time relating to this article in the regard that I did not experience ppd. Rather, I experienced an enrichment and welcomed addition each time (3) that I gave birth. I did not give any part of myself up, my self – the large spiritual self and the small ego driven self expanded rather than contracted. I allowed the bliss of motherhood to evolve and grow with each of my children.

    However, I do understand ppd and sympathize with those who have that experience. I would implore new moms to focus on what they have gifted to themselves and the world. Look to the positive aspects and the expansion of their life experience in a new light. Take in sunlight and moonlight, bathe in the unconditional love between mother and child and know that the strongest bond in the world is that between a mother and child.

  • Ann

    Wow….I feel like i just read literature…like Steinbeck.

    • Kate

      Right!?!? I felt exactly the same way! I even thought of Steinbeck!

  • Amandajean0802

    Wow. This is by far the best thing I’ve ever read. I’m laying on the couch, my three month old napping in my chest and I’m crying. Simply because this is everything that I feel. Thank you for writing so beautifully about motherhood. I don’t feel alone with these feelings and I think many moms can agree with that!

    And to all the arguing about feminism – breathe. Feminism happened so we could CHOOSE our own path. I would LOVE to stay home with my baby, raise her, cook and clean for my family and I think that’s okay. I have a choice and that is what I WANT to do. My career is important, but being a mom is SO much more. This is the best part of my life, well, “new” life. <3

  • Mom20

    Thank you so much for this. I had my baby girl 4 months ago, when I was just 19. I was never a wild girl but I enjoyed having my freedom and working as many hours or taking as many classes as I felt was good for me. Now I feel a little lost, obviously I love my little girl but it’s always hard to keep wondering what if. What if I hadn’t slept with my boyfriend that night? What if I didn’t get pregnant? What if I didn’t decided to keep her? What if… I’m afraid to talk about it out loud because well I’m afraid of what will happen. I’m afraid of the phrase “post partum depression”. I’m afraid to think that I have it. I’m afraid because I always though that if you had ppd, you were crazy and didn’t actually love your children. Sorry, this comment became more of a confession. But thank you again for this. I appreciate it.

  • Carlyle

    This is the most beautiful thing about motherhood I’ve ever read. Thank you. I love this bit “And you’re falling into a love you’ve never known. It’s like quicksand; the more you struggle the deeper you fall. Only you’re not struggling, because it’s a gorgeous catastrophe, and there’s nowhere else to go.”

  • Natasha Kempen

    I truly cherish being a mother and do not feel that loss of my old self for I feel that I have only become a more beautiful women. Cherish being a mother for it is denied to many.

  • Candy Panetta

    I find this and all the women applauding it very disturbing.
    I have 3 beautiful children and I never once felt anything like this.
    I did not mourn anything.
    They are gifts. It was my choice to be a mother, and a priveledge.
    I believe it is horrible and selfish to feel otherwise.
    So many people long for the gift of children.
    Everyone knows what happens to your body, your life, it’s not a secret.
    There are books, doctors, plenty of people to warn you. If you go into motherhood
    Knowing this, you have no right to whine or complain about it all.
    It’s all a wonderful priveledge.

    • Kay

      Dear wonderfully privileged mother of three: You just attempted to invalidate the experiences of hundreds/thousands/millions of women with the reasoning that if it wasn’t your experience it doesn’t happen. And then you attempted to silences them by telling them to stop whining.

      I take particular umbrage to the “everyone knows what happens to your body” — because honey, you are so lucky not to know what I went through for three years after my child was born. They had to do surgery to find out why I was in such agony and repair what they could.

      And as for the whole “motherhood” is a choice thing, keep in mind that some people have worked very hard to make it so many women don’t have that choice. Me, I woke up pregnant 20 years after I was told I was infertile. I had built a whole life around being childless, and gave it up for the miraculous dictatorial disaster that is my son. And every day that I suffered, I would look at him and in my heart I knew that if someone had told me about the agony I would be in every hour, day after day, I wouldn’t have had him.

      So, shut up, would you? It looks like you’ve wandered afar from your Stepford Wives Club.

  • Myla

    This is one of my favorite posts of all time. So. Fucking. Good. The comments are epic. I could write my doctoral dissertation on the construction of motherhood by doing a content analysis of those. Thank you for consistently saying the things that need to be said.

  • Kate

    This is the most profound thing I have ever read about motherhood. I cried reading it because it is so true. So pure and raw. Being a mother is like living your life as a Phoenix- always rising from your own ashes, from the person you used to be, because every day brings new losses and new gains to your life. I remember sitting on my bed at 2AM looking at my perfect newborn and feeling like I ruined my life. And I did. I did ruin that life and like the Phoenix I burned and it was painful and I was reborn into something new. And now with two children I still miss my old feathers sometimes, but I would never go back. I never knew love until I had my children. I never knew fear until one of my babies walked through the valley of the shadow and was returned to me unscathed. I never knew suffering and adoration and exhaustion and pure joy until I had my babies.
    Thank you for writing this.

  • Elizabeth

    When I stumbled across this blog entry, I was at the end of my rope. I’m a new mother with a 7 month old that refuses to sleep (Yes, I am also a loser who has been utterly unsuccessful at sleep training). When I read this, I took a few days to mull it over, and although I admire your pizzazz and writing style, this post made me angry. I cried, and I could understand why.

    I couldn’t understand why, after bringing this precious new life into the world, I felt as though something else had died. My head floated somewhere in the past that obviously didn’t fit with this new life. When I gave birth to my baby girl, I fell in love with her, but I shamefully admit that there was also a feeling of resentment on my shoulders. Doubt. Fear. Anger. It made me feel awful.

    After contemplating your post, I realized that I hadn’t accepted this new identity. I was desperately trying to hold onto something that no longer existed. Then suddenly I had this epiphany. I finally realized that it is time to embrace who I have become. A new and deeper love for my baby has emerged, and I feel reborn in my new identity. I’m sure there were various influences in my life taking place at the time, but your writing, your words, have shown so much clarity. I really needed to read this.

    Thank you for writing. Thank you for spilling your heart out into the open so that others can understand their own.

    • renegademama

      Oh, my. Thank you thank you. This is why I wrote it, and I’m very grateful you commented.

  • Michelle

    Brilliant and all so true. Equally the stuff so many keep to themselves. You might enjoy my post What people fail to mention about a new baby.

  • Mel

    Holy moly, thank you! I’m 22 weeks preggers with my first, who has come to us a bit ahead of schedule. I’m so aware of what a gift motherhood is and I’m not ungrateful by any means, but I’m equally aware of how much I’m going to change. Of course, everything will change, but right now I’m mostly thinking about me. This might sound silly, but I had to take out my belly button ring today and it is bumming me out like you wouldn’t believe! This tiny little part of me that I’ve had for the last 8 years, barely classifiable as part of my identity, is now gone. And maybe I’ll get it done again later… who knows? Does it really matter? But that’s just one out of a million other big and little changes that will happen between now and the rest of my life as a mama. I, too, felt like I couldn’t express these things out loud, especially as loved ones are struggling with infertility and compared to that pain, what I’m going through seems pretty trivial. So this is my drawn out way of saying thanks. Thanks for saying what so many of us are feeling. I’m glad I’m not alone, and this has helped me process a little more. Keep it up, Renegade!

  • Amanda

    I needed to find this tonight. Thank you for writing this – it’s been so hard to figure out who this new “me” is. After 4 1/2 months post baby I’m still struggling with who I am now and what parts of my old self remain. I wanted to have a baby, and I thought I was prepared, but no one and no book (at least none I read), prepares you for the loss of self that occurs, along with the subsequent new self that emerges. It doesn’t help at all that all the relationships with your wonderful friends totally change once the baby comes. They are so excited to meet the baby, then poof! They’re gone. They’re busy, they want to do non-baby things. I get it. I completely 100% get it, but it’s another loss that I mourn. We are all on different paths at different times. But, seriously, who wants to make new friends at 34?!

    Anyway, thank you for writing this, and for sharing your story, and for the universe letting me find it tonight. Your words resonate deeply with me – the messy, earth shattering, beautiful, wonderful life that is motherhood.

  • Nikky

    Thank you so much for your article. I have never, ever seen anyone write anything like this before. I am sure you have heard it a lot (judging by the volume of comments received for this article) that what you’ve written could have literally come out of my mind. I have two boys, 21 months apart. After having my first, and all the issues that came with it (BF challenges, wryneck, exclusive pumping and gaining 50 lbs with pregnancy and loosing about only a half of it) I have literally felt my life was forfeit. I, a person I was before, has died. I have lost my youth and freedom to my child. It was now their turn to be young, free and live their life and my turn was over. I feel this more acutely now, with the birth of my second baby and my oldest going trough terrible twos. I barely leave my house, I constantly clean, organize and discipline. This new person, The Mother, who I am now, I don’t like her. She is irritable, wistful, mind always working. I used to like me. Within limits, of course; I was a person with weaknesses and failings, but reasonably likable (at least to myself). I am now but a shadow of my former self, not even a full person, but an extension of my children, whose sole function is to feed, keep clean and mother. I have a wonderful supportive husband, but there are limits to what men can understand, because a woman goes through this transformation alone. I simply can not, I dare not, reveal these deep regrets and pains to him, for the fear that he would think himself or his children unloved or a mistake. I guess, I have always felt that I was a lone weirdo struggling with my thought. Finding your article helped me understand that it is acceptable to feel the way I do. Psychology accepts the existence of the grieving process and working through loss, yet when mothers go through this process, grieving the loss of their looks, personality, freedom, while also facing numerous new challenges such as feeding and sustaining a new life, their emotions are automatically dismissed as PPD. Again, PPD is a real thing, but I am not sure how many times has the normal, albeit accute, grieving process had been dismissed under the label of PPD. And how many women are afraid to talk about their feelings fearing that they will be labeled, diagnosed and medicated for their troubles. This is a VERY rambling and long post, so do forgive me. I really appreciate you sharing your realizations and making moms like me a little more hopeful and understood.

  • Berrie

    I’m a new subscriber randomly coming across you from a link in someone’s Instagram page…. I don’t think I have ever read something more accurately describing what happened to me five months ago when my daughter was born, I would sit and cry at night feeling like someone died but holding my brand new baby and thinking “why is this so fucked up” … I could only wish that – the old sad me “brand-new” mom 5 months ago would have been able to read this. Your truly amazing, thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel but can’t express.

  • MNJ

    This is such a beautiful post. I just had to comment and tell you this. So much of how I feel having a child you have captured in words. I call the time before having my son the time B.C. Or Before Child. So. Long. Ago.

  • Catherine

    I keep coming back to this post and re-reading and re-sharing. It is so very well written and I appreciate that you’ve communicated this transformation that we go through as women, as mothers so perfectly. Thank you.


    Was a baby boomer, self spoiled, adventurous, risk take and I had more fun in my life the most people will ever have.
    When my son was born I still love with him instantly. As a single mom with an only child I enjoyed every minute of being “the mother” and everything I remember about who I used to be and the wisdom that I had gained I poured it into him. I never remember missing out anything and I raised the most loving caring son I could ever have asked for and more.

    My son is now 27 years old. Until two years ago he was still my loving son in my best friend, at that time his live-in girlfriend left and for reasons beyond my understanding, all the abandonment issues he had already built up over his dad and the the anger that came with them, got turned against me. From being my best friend, loving caring considered sweet young man, he became cold, distant, uncaring, uncompassionate and downright cruel sometimes.
    After spending the last couple of years trying to reach out and reconnect, and, as always, being the one person that was always unconditionally there, I am still taking the brunt of the rage and despise that he can not express or share with the ones who left. I taught him to love, I became his mother to love him and share the world with him, yet he has learned it has being molded by those who are not there.
    So here I am; determined to survive and ease the pain, in a desperate effort to remember who I was. All I can remember right now if my son was and the pain of that loss clouds my view of who I used to be myself. But I do know I was awesome and just searching for that person will keep me going.

    • Jorge


      You are still his mother and Micky love you with all his heart. He broke up with his girlfriend and he is doing fine.

      Enjoy your last trip!


  • Marisa

    Wow, you really got it. Thank you! My daughter is ten now but I remember how it felt like I’d given birth to my heart and it was now outside my body and how vulnerable that felt.

  • Alyssa

    You make me want to have another kid. Maybe even two.

  • Jamie

    Wow! I just bawled my eyes out reading this piece. I just had my first child 2.5 months ago and I’ve been struggling to identify the feelings I’ve been having. This article was everything I’ve felt put in to writing. After reading this I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my mind. Thank you so much for your insight and courage to speak about these feelings that are almost taboo. I plan to share this and re-read it often.

  • Antonette

    What a beautifully and heart-wrenching truth. Thank you for being vulnerable. My husband and I went from zero kids to two adopted beautiful children. Two months in, I did not fully understand why I avoided coming home from work, why I chose to be with my sisters, why distanced myself from the children… I was mourning the loss of my independence and my old life. Your blog helped me come to realize and understand what was happening internally. How freeing; how enlightening. Thank you!

  • Melinda

    I stumbled upon your blog while I was trying to come to terms with what becoming a mother would mean. This is the part that completely terrifies me, losing self. I’ve told my mom I don’t want to be one of those moms who never does anything for herself and is all kids all the time. Your article portrayed my greatest fear and also quelled if. You die to yourself but then you are a new better person. and it will be ok. And I will survive it. Sometimes it will hurt in the changing process. Thanks for your honesty. –melinda (a will be trying to be a mom soon)

  • James

    Beautiful article, really well written but I think you do fathers a huge disservice.

  • Cassidy

    This hit me so deeply… I have an 8 month old son and you expressed exactly what I’ve been going through. Thank you, thank you for this gift of finally feeling like someone else understands.

  • Kris

    So I read this. And cried. Cuz for the first time in 16 years, I realized I’m probably normal. Then I forwarded it to a new mom friend, so she doesn’t have to spend 16 years feeling like a horrible mom. And she’s crying.
    And seriously, thank you.

  • AEL

    Crying, crying, crying. Thank you for this. In all of my expecting and imagining what motherhood would be, I never planned for so much frustration and difficulty getting used to this new life. I can’t even tel you how many times I have felt selfish, angry, and like a complete failure. My son is about to be a year old.My husband tries, and he helps, but he also simply cannot understand it all. I felt for a long time that I wasn’t even allowed to acknowledge how hard it all is, because isn’t it all just supposed to be so beautiful and wonderful? And of course it is, but it’s also the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done. Thank you for helping me feel less alone.

  • jessica

    This just made me cry… Short night I had…

Leave a Comment

Comment policy: Try not to be a dick.