By Jessica Jane Sammut, MD® Editor-in-Chief
When I became a mother, it would be fair to say it was a shock to the system. As a fiercely independent woman, motherhood blindsided me. Whilst my mind was absolutely blown by the love I felt for my son, motherhood unstuck me from an identity I had carefully attached myself to.
And I was not prepared.
When pregnant, I had been given so much information on how to birth, feed and raise a child, but I had been told nothing about the adjustment to motherhood that occurs.
Get pregnant, give birth, feed and educate your offspring, said the books. According to the literature, my journey simply laid in the creation and raising of my child. Right? Wrong!
In the first few weeks of becoming a mother, I became aware that something pretty massive was happening to my inner cosmos, and it wasn’t just the fact that I was now responsible for a tiny human. There was an additional dimension to this parental funland I found myself in – a piece of the matrix that had not been addressed in any antenatal class I had been to.
And this feeling of unearthing didn’t subside as time passed, but grew.
I was seeing the world and my place in it in a totally new way – who was I in my new role as lover/fighter/protector of my son? And how was this going to mesh with who I was pre-baby?
Talk about a seismic shift. I felt like I was going through an existential earthquake of epic proportions, and there was definitely no bunker to hide in. Trust me, I looked.
Strange then, that no-one else was even aware that this main event was taking place for me. It was all about the baby.
What I now know (and didn’t then) is that I was experiencing ‘matrescence’ – the physical, psychological and emotional transformation a woman goes through when entering motherhood. And, yes, it has a name. Scientifically all mothers go through this, each with her own unique experience, but it is only now that it is becoming more understood.
Why the f*ck it has taken so long to have been recognised and studied is beyond me.
Actually, I do know why. It’s because women just get on with it, like the tough MFs we are. But we shouldn’t have to.
For me, I had to figure out for myself what was happening. And I had no clue.
So, I let go of what I thought I knew about myself and started to trust the process of becoming. And it was hard.
Parts of me definitely broke before they came back together in a new form. I was evolving, not just in my new role as a mother, but in every single way as a woman.
And whilst new motherhood left me lost for a little while, it ultimately allowed me to find the very essence of who I really was. I shed a skin and emerged greater and stronger because of it.
So, let’s, as motherhood sisters, talk more openly about matrescence.
Let’s teach new mums about it.
Hell, let’s march about it in our nursing bras if we have to in order to get the support we need.
Motherhood is every kind of wonderful, but it can be all kinds of hard as well. We cannot do this motherhood gig alone.
For when a child is born, a mother is born, and I, for one, am proud of the woman I have become.