This “Mom Phase” May Be The Most Difficult To Handle

If you’re a first-time mom, you’ve likely prepared yourself for a major life change.

You’ve researched everything under the sun about newborn care, and you’ve spoken to your physician about the physical and emotional changes that may affect you after childbirth.

But there is one part of being a new mom that most women are not prepared for – and it can be a doozy.

The “baby blues” are extremely common in the first few weeks following birth.

New moms are sleep-deprived, hormonal changes are wreaking havoc, and your body is in a state of transition in many ways.  Sometimes, these symptoms can become severe – postpartum depression – which requires immediate attention.

But the excruciating loneliness that many new moms experience is separate and apart from all of these physical and hormonal changes.

It is a completely normal feeling that comes with such a life change and can hit new moms like a sledgehammer.

Perhaps you worked full-time outside the home, frequently went out with friends, and were often around a lot of people before baby.

Now, you’re at home with your new little one.  Your husband has gone back to work and you realize how profoundly alone you feel.

One mom told Today’s Parent that she spent many blissful hours at home with her new baby, but “what we didn’t do—what we couldn’t do—was actually have a conversation. This, I discovered far too late, can drive you right up to the knife’s edge of sanity.”

This transitional time actually has a name – “matrescence” – the time in which your identity completely shifts from “me” to “Mom.”

Especially if you have just had your first child and left a busy career and social life, this period can be so isolating, you don’t know who you are any more.

And despite the joy and excitement of having your newborn home with you at last, it is normal to have feelings of disorientation and sorrow at leaving “you” behind.

This mom also told Today’s Parent, “And while I was happy to be The Mother, I was also deeply conflicted. I missed my old self, my old life. And that sense of loss, combined with the isolation of caregiving, conspired to make me feel terribly alone.”

The lack of adult conversation, the 24-hour caregiving for the baby, and often the total absence of being able to do anything you used to enjoy for even a few minutes can seem like it will never end.

Human beings are meant to be around other human beings.  We are social creatures and we need to communicate with others.

And while we are completely attached – both physically and emotionally – to this new little human being that means more to us than anything in the world, communication is at a bit of a halt during this time.

They can’t talk to us yet, and we are learning a new form of communication – theirs.  We have to learn what each cry means and answer it in response.  And we likely have to do this 8 to 10 hours a day until our spouse comes home from work.

First and foremost, hang in there, mammas!  This loneliness will not last forever.  While it is its own entity, it is made worse by hormonal changes and exhaustion.

It also starts to fade as baby quickly learns new forms of communication – smiling, cooing, and making other new sounds after the first 3 or 4 months.

And after those first few difficult weeks, you will be able to venture out more.  Find other moms and get out of the house with them, if only for an hour or so.  Use the phone to actually talk to family and friends – not just on social media.  Hearing another person’s voice does a world of good.

It’s an old cliché, but sleep when the baby sleeps.  Or if you just can’t sleep then for whatever reason, forget about the laundry and the dishes those first few weeks.

Instead, do something that you used to enjoy.  Exercise, read a book, or work on an old hobby.  This will help you keep that connection to the old “you” – and it won’t be long before you have established a routine to keep the loneliness at bay.

An important aspect to note is that this loneliness can often put stress on your marriage.  The first weeks after your spouse returns to work, you are probably like a powder-keg ready to blow once he gets home.  You’re desperate for conversation, needing to vent, and ready to fall apart at the first sign of stress between the two of you.

Make sure that you both talk over this before baby comes home.  Put a plan into place that will help you communicate what you need to get through this phase that is new to both of you.

No one is a mind reader, and since communication – or lack thereof — is at the root of how lonely you are feeling, make sure communication is open and strong between the two of you so your marriage stays strong as well.

The loneliness of the newborn phase when you are isolated at home won’t last for long, so take it one day at a time, let others know when you need to talk, and keep yourself busy and healthy.

One day, you’ll look back and miss those early days – and there are many wonderful times ahead as you embrace this “new you” and the amazing changes your family is experiencing.

Did you experience extreme loneliness after your spouse went back to work and you were home with your newborn?  What did you do to combat the feelings of isolation?  Leave us your thoughts.

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