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Grieving Your Past Life Postpartum

Erin Murray, LPCC
Counselor, Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness, LLC

Before I begin, I want to preface that I don’t claim to be a great writer, nor do I claim to
be an expert on this topic, but I wanted to create a shared space to humanize therapists and to discuss some of the difficulties of becoming a new mom and parent.

I am currently a couple weeks postpartum and one of the most surprising things I have felt is grief.

Yes, you read that right… I said grief.

I had a perfectly healthy son, and I am healthy as well, but there was a feeling that I could not put my finger on. I could not figure out why each time my husband came around, kissed me on the forehead, or while having dinner I would feel I strange sense of indescribable sadness. Until finally, while lying next to my husband he says, ‘I sometimes miss our old life.’ In that moment, he summarized exactly what I had been feeling over the past couple of days.

When it was just my son and I, it felt ‘normal’ but when my husband would come around it felt strange and I felt sad. Now this was different, because we have a wonderful marriage and he brings me immense amount of peace and happiness. So sadness when he was around was, well, weird. And although he was able to summarize and validate what I was feeling, it freaked me out to hear the words out loud… FROM MY HUSBAND… none the less.

It took me a day to build the courage to ask him if he was still happy being a father, to which, he said he was very happy being a dad but it was ‘just different.’

I continued to feel both validated and sad. I was a new mom, I am supposed to be happy and elated with my new baby. Now, let me remind you that I could not be happier being my son’s mother, but the loss of our ‘old’ life was still looming. I want to normalize this emotion for anyone who may be feeling the same, particularly because it was a feeling that I did not expect to have postpartum.

I anticipated sadness, anxiety, new mom concerns, but grief was not an emotion that I thought I would experience. I did not prepare for the isolation of living in the baby’s world for the first few weeks to keep him safe, the isolation was a reminder of, ‘I miss our old life.’ While sitting at the dinner table in silence because I was home all day with the baby and did not have a job to discuss, was a reminder of, ‘I miss our old life.’ Not being able to have the same daily routines because of feedings, naps, and diaper changes, a reminder of ‘I miss our old life.’ Or when changing the sheets on the bed is a one person job because the other parent is tending to the new baby, it’s a reminder of ‘I miss our old life.’

Now let’s change gears a bit, on the topic of changes, whether diaper changes or changing the sheets, life is full of them. So, while the theme of this blog has been ‘I miss our old life.’ I wanted to remind you adjusting to changes takes time. While we work towards acceptance of those changes, growing pains are bound to happen both within ourselves and within the relationships in our lives.

So, while I am adjusting, I am happy being a mom, I have been trying to practice what I preach with my clients, by giving myself grace to be human. So while, yes, I do miss our old life, I am happy with where life is headed now (as scary as it may be).

At the end of the day, our brains require time, grace, and courage to adjust to all the newness we encounter becoming new parents. If you’re a new parent reading this blog, please remember that if you’re grieving your old life, you are not alone and it’s normal to grieve a life once lived all the while celebrating the new chapter that is happening.

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