Before becoming pregnant, my husband and I had a very active social life. We went out with friends several times a week. We went to bars, clubs, BBQs, the beach, out to dinner, had people over often, threw holiday parties at our house, went on vacations with friends...we pretty much spent all of our free time having fun with those we cared about.
Once I became pregnant, I didn't go out at all. I had a very difficult pregnancy and had a hard time completing very basic day-to-day activities. Very often, I would have to pull over on my 15-minute drive to work to get sick...even into my third trimester. I also had "worrisome" symptoms and spent a lot of time going to the hospital triage. Needless to say, I wasn't really concerned with anything other than my baby being ok and getting through the pregnancy.
I didn't wear makeup, I didn't care about wearing stylish outfits, and I had no desire to go out the way we used to. I was too concerned with the baby to realize my identity was transforming. In my opinion, a woman becomes a mother the moment she learns she is pregnant. Because that is the moment she has to start making lifestyle changes for her baby. That is also the moment EVERYTHING is now about your child.
It wasn't until a few months later, when my husband went back to work, that I became aware of myself again. I know that sounds odd. But my entire pregnancy had been about health and survival. And the first few months of my son's life were so chaotic that I realized I had completely lost track of Candice in the process. For about 11 months I was so wrapped up in my pregnancy and my child that I hadn't really thought of myself, about doing anything for myself, or of my own hobbies and interests at all.
On top of it all, I had been suffering from PPD. So when I went to my doctor and spoke to her about what had been going on she said something very simple, but it was what I needed to hear. "It's natural to be all about your baby. But don't lose yourself. Don't lose or forget about the woman before the pregnancy. It's a mistake many women make. And it will eventually catch up to you." She suggested I find a way to make time for something that is completely for me. "Your health is more important than completing that extra load of laundry," she emphasized. That is the reason I originally started this blog. Not to share it, but as a way for me to keep track of how often I was allowing myself to BE MYSELF. I explored my interests and took a timeout to do something that was just mine.
Slowly I began to become the new me. Not leaving behind who I was, but growing into the mommy version. My life is still centered around my son (and will always be). His needs, his happiness, and his health are my first priority. But I make sure to also keep up with my interests and hobbies. And to see friends when I can. My mom also said something that really helped me. "It doesn't have to be separate. Your life with [your son] and your life before. You need to find a way to blend the two." And I have. My friends know I can't always go out. And if they want to spend time with me, sometimes they will be spending time with my son also. To be honest, I think they love it.
I'm still learning, still growing, and still transforming. And it will most likely be a lifelong process. But I finally have my sense of self back. New mommies... you are not alone. You are not awful for feeling you need to have some "you" time and you are definitely not abnormal. Most of all, knowing yourself will set the best example for your child -to grow up seeing one of his first role models being an individual and still being a loving mom.