Our Cofounder Shares: My Lonely First Year of Motherhood

Being a mom was something I always dreamed of. 

Growing up with very complicated family dynamics and a lack of love and support from my own parents, I longed for the day that I would have a family of my own. As a former nanny/babysitter with years of experience caring for babies as young as 2 days old, I felt both ready and confident for this new role. 

My pregnancy, labor, and delivery were all pretty easy. I was lucky enough to feel an immediate bond with my daughter, and we enjoyed the sweetest few weeks at home with our newborn. Life felt almost perfect. 

But soon, something shifted. 

I had gone through pregnancy with some of my closest friends and assumed we would share a lot of the same experiences as new moms. I watched my friends resume their lives with their babies along for the ride, happily sitting in their car seats and sleeping through the night when they were only a few months old, while I sat at home afraid to take Margot anywhere. 

My experience couldn’t have been more different than theirs, and I never could have imagined how lonely I’d feel. 

 

I never could have imagined how lonely I’d feel.

 

A simple trip to the mall usually ended in screaming and being covered in vomit, and eventually, with me on the side of the road, crying, unable to soothe my baby and feeling like a failure as a mom. I dreaded evenings knowing that for 1-3 hours before bed, Margot screamed until she vomited and then would eventually pass out on us. When she finally fell asleep, everything sort of reset, and I’d just take her in. In those quiet moments, the darkness and anxiety went away. 

My husband and I would take turns sitting in a dark room, trying to soothe our baby. Most of the time, she wanted me, which meant not being able to make evening plans for fear that she really wouldn’t be OK. As her mom, I couldn’t fix it, so the least I could do was be there for my baby. The guilt was consuming. How could I feel so sad and anxious when I had a “healthy” baby? I didn’t struggle to conceive, and my child wasn’t in the hospital. How could I feel anything other than fortunate? 

 

 

My heart broke into a million pieces day after day and night after night. I felt broken, lost, alone, and it was impossible to see that this would ever get better.

Nothing can prepare you for having a “difficult” baby, and it took months before I would even be able to use that word to describe my daughter. The love I felt for Margot was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Even amidst the difficult times, I could not believe how much I loved her, and that’s only grown as the months have gone by. 

But we spent most of that first year feeling like we were drowning. 

There were also so many sweet, beautiful moments, and those were what carried us through. The smiles, belly laughs, and snuggles were everything to us, but the hours of screaming were awful. I was tested as a woman and mother. Our marriage was tested, and there were times when I didn’t know how we’d get through it. 

No one knew what to say other than “it will get better” which was hard to believe when this was all we knew. I wish someone had told me they went through it too and how it got better.

 

My heart broke into a million pieces day after day and night after night. I felt broken, lost, alone, and it was impossible to see that this would ever get better.

 

It took until we were through it to learn that we can all follow the same sleep coach, read the same books, and do everything “right,” but our babies are all so different. Some parents can let their baby cry it out, but that wasn’t an option for us since any time Margot got really upset, she would throw up. 

I eventually learned that I could love my baby and not love everything about being a mom. That I could hate how hard things felt. That she could be “difficult” and we could still love her more than anything. 

I wish I had known what was coming. That I could have had a glimpse into what life would look like with our sweet, funny, happy, kind, sensitive, loving girl. Margot started regularly sleeping through the night at around 10 months and everything really shifted.

I wish I had taken care of myself. 

 

 

If you are a friend to a new mom who seems like she’s struggling, just show up for her. I have friends who came over maybe 2-3 times the whole year and others who showed up regularly. Make it as easy as you can. Offer to help. Offer to come over or to come to help her take her baby out. One of my dearest friends made it her mission to help me get out with Margot. She talked about how we would conquer it together, and those days were some of the best. Having her there allowed me to sit in the back seat with Margot, and we usually did OK together. Understand when your friend can’t go to dinner or get out, and don’t hold it against her. 

Keep checking in. Keep showing up. 

If your first year looks anything like mine, here’s what I want you to know. 

 

You are not alone

Even if all your friends have “easy” babies, I promise you that you are not the only one going through it. 

 

Know that it will get better

The days might feel long, and I know those moments that drag on for hours feel like forever, but it will get so much better. 

 

It is OK to hate some moments or parts of motherhood

You can be a good mom who loves your baby and not love where you are right now. 

 

Don’t forget about your marriage

We struggled with communication and things sort of fell apart for a while. The love was always there, but we both felt so broken and didn’t know how to connect. I wish we had done a better job communicating through it. We should have sought the help of a therapist during that time to learn how to better support each other and take care of ourselves as individuals and as a couple. 

 

 

Don’t forget about yourself

I put my entire life on hold. If we were invited to a party, I almost always stayed home to take care of Margot. Friends would invite me out, and I’d end up canceling because I felt like I had to be there for Margot. The anxiety was all-consuming, and it was my job to take care of her, but you have to take care of yourself. It is so important to do something for you, whether that’s a workout class, coffee with a friend, or a date night. 

 

As we prepare to welcome a second baby into our family this year, I look forward to all the sweet little firsts that this new baby will bring. My husband and I are hopeful that things will look very different this time, but when we do have hard moments (and those are inevitable even with the “easiest” of babies), we know to both show up and take care of each other. 

Writing this piece has me a little nervous about what could be, for the things that we can’t control. I also know the first year won’t last forever, and I can’t wait to watch another little girl grow up right before our eyes. I will cherish every sweet, special moment, and through the hard ones, I know that we can and will get through them together.

 

Show Comments +