Motherhood comes with a lot of guilt. It’s like, “Oh did someone order a baby? Well, here’s a side of immense guilt to go with it.” It comes with the territory. Am I working too much? Am I spending enough time with my kids? My partner? My friends?? My dog??? A million thoughts like these run through our heads 24/7 but some of us have one desperate thought – nay, plea – that screams in our heads by day’s end: I need alone time.
One of the most challenging things for me after giving birth to River was not being able to recharge with alone time (or quiet time). I’m an extreme introvert (INFJ for those familiar with the Myers-Briggs types. Sometimes my result is INFP, though.) and I need to decompress every day. Even sitting in a quiet space for 5 minutes will make me feel better. So when River came along, finding even a minute to gather my sanity seemed impossible. Throughout my days with him, I would find myself wishing he would just nap or I would be counting the seconds until Christopher came home so I can hand the baby off to him and go hide.
And I felt so awful.
WHY AM I SO UNHAPPY?
I wondered what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t one of those moms who couldn’t wait until their babies woke up so they could play with them. When he would stir in his sleep, I would pray that he’d keep sleeping for another 5 minutes. I felt like a horrible mother and a horrible person. I would cry in the shower because I was so overwhelmed with stress and guilt. Why wasn’t I happy now that I finally have my rainbow baby?
SHHH, MOMMY’S AN INTROVERT
One day I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had any quality alone time with myself. I never had a chance to fully recharge and acknowledge and sort through my many thoughts and emotions. I was so used to spending all or parts of my days alone. Before I met Christopher, I lived alone and when Christopher and I moved in together, I was alone during the day since I worked from home. Now I had a little human who was attached to me 24/7. I was breastfeeding as well as holding him during naps because he’d wake up as soon as we put him down. I’d be up with him at night and Christopher and I would be lucky if we got 4 hours of sleep total (which was rare). River also had bad spit up and acid reflux issues so we had to keep him upright as much as possible. I could barely use the restroom or fix myself a bite to eat. It was just baby and I together all day so by the time Christopher walked through the door, I was on the verge of tears (or already in tears) and felt like I was completely losing it. I realized I never had the opportunity to hit refresh which was why I was running on fumes and feeling so depleted and defeated.
I knew it would be impossible to continue this way without losing my mind so I figured out what I would need to retain my sanity and finally be a happier mother.
The first thing we did was get help in the form of childcare. Fortunately my mom was available so she started coming a couple of days a week. Not only was I able to get a break from the baby, I was also able to start working again which I had missed so much.
The days when my mom is here, I’m also able to take Miles on afternoon walks sans stroller and baby. The 10-15 minute walks really allow me to refuel in the middle of the day and get some energy back. I’m also able to get lost in my thoughts, think about work, or not think at all and just zone out.
The other big thing we did was sleep train. When my mom was over, she would rock him to sleep and hold him as he napped but the days when I didn’t have help, I was pretty much confined to the couch. When we got the ok from his pediatrician at 4 months, we started sleep training. When he started napping longer and longer in his crib and sleeping 11+ hours at night, we were all so much happier. Longer naps meant I was able to get things done whether it was work or housework. An early bed time meant Christopher and I had time alone and we could eat dinner without passing the baby back and forth while the other shoveled bites of food in their mouths. More importantly, we were finally able to sleep at night. Like I said, we were all happier.
With these changes, I began making the most of my time with River because when he napped or went to bed, I found myself missing him immensely. I’m a much better wife and mother because I feel normal and sane again. I make sure I get quiet time to myself as much as possible throughout the day so I don’t burn myself out. I always knew I needed alone time but I didn’t realize how much a lack of it affected me until I became a mother. I was so focused on putting everyone’s needs first that I didn’t realize my needs were just an important.
I do realize this will be something I will have to continuously work on as River gets older. When he starts talking or having friends over or going on play dates, I’ll have to try my best to not let my introversion affect his childhood and social life. And if we discover that River is an extrovert, then we’ll have to figure out how to balance each other.
I wish someone had told me being an introverted mother comes with specific challenges so I could have prepared myself better and maybe even enjoyed the first months of motherhood more. I’m grateful that I was able to implement the changes and get the support I needed. I’m grateful that I’m finally enjoying motherhood and finding myself looking forward to River waking up so I can play with him.
Can you relate? Are you an introverted mother? What helped you recharge and decompress?
P.S. If you’re curious about your Myers-Briggs personality type, you can take the test here. Let me know what your result is! Curious to know my readers’ personality types. :)