My husband and I were in our mid 30s when our first daughter was born. Although we were elated to become parents, we were also shocked into broad sweeping life changes. We both had successful careers, a vibrant social life, a variety of athletic activities that we enjoyed together and individually, and practically no limitations on our time. Now, as parents, our hearts and lives were changed forever.
Sleep deprivation, overwhelm, and a general sense of disconnection with myself began to settle in. I no longer went to yoga, very rarely did I see friends, and I was too tired to spend quality time with my husband. But, that was all OK, I told myself, because now I was a mother, and my soul/sole purpose was to nurture my child.
Just as life began to ease, as my husband and I had a better grip on parenting, we were blessed with a second pregnancy. Although I modeled nothing but joy about this news to the world, internally I was unclear about my feelings. Did I truly want another baby? I was finally sleeping all night again and beginning to feel less overwhelmed. I did not utter these thoughts for fear of sounding selfish and ungrateful. And so, as I carried my baby, I also carried a secret—I was uneasy about having a second child, fearful of more overwhelm.
My relapse began the very day after my beautiful second daughter was born. Anorexia reclaimed my brain, and it took merciless root. As I held my baby in the hospital, filled with all the mother’s love possible, a sinister drive to drop the baby weight as fast as possible rang in my head. I spiraled into severe restriction and was hospitalized before her first birthday.
Years later, I am a strong woman and mother, confident and committed in my purpose to hold space for others' healing from an eating disorder as a yoga therapist. This is not to say motherhood is easy, that I always feel euphoric happiness with my children, or that I don't bump up against triggering moments in the overwhelm of temper tantrums and household responsibilities. I assure you, I do, and I have a hunch that many moms out there in eating disorder recovery do as well.
In reflecting on my own experiences as a mom, especially how isolating both motherhood and recovery can be, I felt called to open up the discussion around motherhood and eating disorder recovery. I reached out to my friend and fellow mom and recovered colleague, Melainie Rogers, founder of Balance Eating Disorder Treatment Center, in New York City about my ideas. From candidly sharing our own challenges and experiences as moms in recovery, we were inspired to create a video series on motherhood and eating disorder recovery. Our intention for this project was to offer support and let other women know they are not alone in the challenges of motherhood and recovery.
In August, I went to NYC and spent an afternoon with Melainie filming our 4-part video series, covering topics like body image, what's hard about maintaining recovery, the importance of support and self-care, and how to help our children have a healthy relationship with food. We shared laughs, tears, and complete honesty. It was a day I will never forget, and luckily, we captured most of it on video to share with you.
I invite you to view our INTRO VIDEO to the MOTHERHOOD & EATING DISORDER RECOVERY series and check out all four of our videos. Here's a snapshot of the topics we discuss:
As many of my closest friends have heard me say, motherhood is the greatest and hardest. It's taken time to allow myself to hold both of those feelings without guilt or shame. Melainie and I support you in your efforts in your life to embrace your feelings around motherhood and recovery. We sincerely hope you find our stories helpful and comforting. Also, we encourage you to share your experiences in the comments. What is hard for you about being a mom and maintaining recovery? What has helped you to manage motherhood and recovery? What's your self-care look like? Share anything at all! Us moms need each other, and we all will most definitely benefit from knowing we are not alone in our victories and challenges.