**I have attempted to write this post numerous times yet it never comes out as I intend for it to. I decided to go ahead and hit the publish key anyways in hopes that my transparency is beneficial to someone else out there who may have experienced something similar. But be warned, this is practically a novel. You probably shouldn't read it. I included pictures in hopes that you'd hate me less for writing such a long post**
If you remember this post, you'll recall that I was pretty heartbroken about my maternity leave ending. Heartbroken doesn't really do justice to describe how I was feeling, though. Devastation, severe panic, even depression probably sum it up more accurately...
I viewed the end of my maternity leave as dooms day. And I cried. A lot.
I expected many things from motherhood and felt (foolishly) prepared for them. I expected the sleepless nights, a spit up ridden wardrobe, going many hours without eating, and even many days without a shower. I expected changing endless diapers, reading the same books and singing the same songs again and again. I even expected possible struggles with breastfeeding. What I didn't expect, and what no baby book or blog post could have ever prepared me for, was the intense emotion I would feel. Motherhood is emotional and I was in no way prepared for it.
I didn't feel like I could survive the separation, and that's when I realized something was wrong. I was so heavy with grief that I no longer recognized myself. I couldn't get through a sentence without exploding into sobs. I felt dark, bleak, and hopeless. I felt like a failure -- as an employee, as a wife, as a mother, as a women.
People kept telling me, "Oh, it's just hormones!," and I desperately wanted to believe it. But these were more than just mood swings brought on by sleepless nights and leaky boobs, these were dark moments that left me feeling frightened and alone. Something was off with me. Emotionally, things just weren't right. And instead of the passing of time making me feel better, I simply got worse --more anxious, more confused, more sad.
What I thought at the time was just a bad case of separation anxiety over leaving Jack I now realize was a postpartum struggle.
I remember standing in my kitchen telling my friend Kristen that Steven and I thought that maybe I should talk to someone... maybe what I was experiencing wasn't normal... maybe I needed help. I tried so hard to not let the tears that were pooling in my eyes spill over. I wanted so badly to be strong and not sound like I was losing my mind. But the truth is, I was! And as soon as she left I lost it. I. Lost. It.
That's when I knew I wouldn't be going back into the office.
I quit my job that following Monday. I simply called my boss and said I couldn't leave my baby. I love my job. Heck, I even love my boss and the other guy I work with, but I felt then (and I still struggle with it now) that I was emotionally incapable of leaving my son. I know I wasn't able to be mentally present at my job in the emotional state I was in. I knew I would be a better mother, wife, and friend if I let my work go.
Within a few short days I felt a huge weight gradually be lifted from my shoulders. My head felt clearer and my heart felt lighter. I knew I had made the best decision for my family. The fog I had spent the last 3-4 months in was beginning to clear.
It all sounds so simple when I write it down, but it wasn't. Career wise... I enjoy my work and know I'll have a hard time finding anything like it in the future. Financially... Steven and I are taking a huge lifestyle cut and may even have to consider getting rid of our home down the road. Socially... I feel like I failed. I feel as though I let down my co-workers who thought I was going back to the office. I feel like I let down other women who do work outside the home and do so successfully. Honestly, a part of me envies those women. And, to be totally transparent, I let down myself in a lot of ways by just not having it all together. I wanted to be able to throw on my skinny jeans, step back into my high heels and march into the office. Superwoman, right? But I just wan't ready.
I am so thankful for my amazing and supportive husband, family, friends (and even my employer!) who have all played a significant part in where I am today and how much better I feel! And I am beyond excited for this new season in my life!
If you made it to the end on this Monday morning.. Bravo!