The Spark of Me


It happened today.

It was a tiny little flicker, just a small spark. But I felt it.

I’m almost nine months postpartum now and still in the trenches of diapers and not sleeping and constant breastfeeding and negotiating solid foods. This it the third time I’ve been here, and it’s no less foreign this time around. I just don’t feel like myself. I don’t mean in the postpartum depression sort of way – though that is always something to keep in mind when you assess yourself.

I’m not depressed, but this part of babyhood is so all-consuming that I simply have forgotten who I am outside of this stage of life.


It’s not for lack of trying. I’ve dipped my toe back into all of the things that used to comprise the bigger picture of who I am. Things that are familiar, things that used to really catch my interest and give me something to talk about with my spouse at the end of the day outside of “we tried roasted apples today, didn’t we girls!” But I’ve learned that in the first year of life with a new baby, even things that I’ve had a true passion for in the past don’t do much for me.

Whether it’s a hobby that I have always enjoyed, or even getting together regularly with close friends, things just feel uncomfortable. With my first baby, it made me question if being a mom had changed me into someone completely different. It felt scary and a little hopeless to think that the person I’d been all my life had somehow disappeared in the hours it took to bring my daughter into the world.

In some ways, of course, that has happened. You can’t be the very same person you were before you added that sweet, snuggly, screaming new family member (or two). Getting back to your normal self is a process. It’s a little like trying to zip up jeans that have gone through the dryer. When you first put them on, even though you know deep down they fit you, they’re tight and feel foreign. The longer you wear them, though, the better they start to fit again. I’ve discovered that over time, my self-identity will gradually rebalance. And take heart, first-time moms – you will, too.

It starts with a small, fleeting moment where I not only remember what life was like a year ago but actually feel hopeful that I will be a version of that person again. After my first baby I was so desperate to get back to “normal” that I probably made things far worse by trying to rush it. My daughter was 10 months before I looked into the mirror and realized that the person I was before her birth was still there after all. That small spark was thrilling and gave me so much hope.

This time, it was as I was driving down the interstate with just one of my four kids in the car. We were talking and playing the animal game together, just like we used to do regularly when we were out running errands, without interruption of crying babies or interjection of his older sibling. I was able to focus on only one child, and since there was already a plan for once I arrived at home, I didn’t have to work up a “when we walk in the door” list in my head like I usually do. Just the small amount of space had been cleared in my brain allowed for the first little bit of clarity in a long time – and the spark.

I think I sighed the biggest sigh I have in a long time right then. Not an exhausted “How am I going to drag myself and four wailing offspring across the finish line of this day?” kind of sigh like I’ve been doing for the last few months. This was a sigh of peace. The fog of the first year of babyhood is finally starting to clear, and I can start to see my way forward to an updated version of myself.