At 3:04 pm December 4th 2008, I became a mother, and it was the most terrifying and shameful experience of my life…
“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.“Dr. Brene Brown
Okay…okay let me backup. Don’t take that statement to heart, motherhood is a beautiful thing, especially for those that want it. I was never one that wanted that experience. I had been on the pill, and although not as diligent in my taking of it, I had every intention of not having any children. The pill was the best option besides abstinence for me to not undergo this experience that I didn’t want. Prior to being on the pill I had had two abortions and had vowed that if I ended up pregnant again I would bite the bullet and follow through with my responsibilities, hence why I was on the pill.
So as I lay in the operating room with a sheet covering my midsection feeling the tugging and pulling of my impending delivery, the only emotion I could conjure was fear. Fear and overwhelming guilt, I cried. Tears flowing freely as new life was brought from my womb. I looked at my father who had miraculously made it just in time to be there with me in the operating room and all I could repeat over and over was “I didn’t know, I didn’t know”, as Baby Boy Willoughby was rushed to the NICU.
See the thing with shame is that is a two fold emotion; usually self imposed and can also be societally enforced. Webster’s Dictionary defines shame as ‘a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.’ Becoming pregnant AND also not knowing that I was pregnant, doubled down with the lack of maternal sensibilities and just the basic necessities to care for another human being was enough to make me feel like there was a giant stone on my chest.
Danny was born via C-section under duress to say the least, he was 2 lbs 2 oz and after the first 24 hours I was able to visit him in the NICU. Needless to say this was a very awkward first meeting and as I saw this tiny human in a clear box under a ray of light all the joys of what should have been a wonderful first meeting was squashed under the weight of my guilt. What had I done? I thought of all the reckless behavior I had engaged in over the course of my pregnancy. Was I the reason he was this way? Am I even able to raise a child? Do I even want to keep him? Maybe I should put him up for adoption. These were the types of thoughts that whirled in my head. Not only was I questioning my own parenting capabilities, I also thought about my own biological mother and her lack of maternal inclination. Would I turn out like her?
He would go on to spend 5 months in the hospital and have over 7 surgeries in the span of 7 years. But luckily 11 years later he is a happy and relatively well adjusted child. Even with his disabilities he is a smart, witty young man that I am proud to call my son. Motherhood for me was a set of roller coaster emotions and situations that I couldn’t have gotten through without the support of my family and buddhist philosophy.
The full effect of my guilt and shame didn’t go away just because my son was a happy-go-lucky child. From long nights in hospitals, months of uncertainty, the pressures of new motherhood, providing as a single mother the stone became bigger and bigger over the first 4 to 5 years of Danny’s life. At the time I was using cannabis for relief to get high and enjoyed it occasionally for the euphoric state to alleviate some of the pressure that I felt I was under. As I became more involved in cannabis I began to question how I could use my cannabis to get from under this boulder of shame. Then I found microdosing!
Leafly offers this about microdosing “In the midst of a potency-obsessed market where high THC marks mean everything, there is a growing community of cannabis advocates that are pushing for less consumption as opposed to more. This tactic is called “microdosing,” a growing trend as cannabis consumption becomes more mainstream. Practitioners of microdosing are taking small amounts of cannabis in order to reap the medical benefits of THC while avoiding its psychoactive effects that can interfere with the demands of daily life.”
Microdosing became my saving grace, and one of my tools in my toolkit. I was able to still be a Mom while at the same time breaking down the walls and using therapy to confront my own feeling of shame or worthlessness and abandonment. As a new mother I carried not only my own strong feelings of shame and guilt but, as many new mothers know, there are the pressures of parenting experts, Instagram moms, other family members and ‘well-meaning’ public. If we don’t live up to this golden standard of motherhood that society places on new parents then we may experience of guilt tied to not fulfilling that standard. My own journey of motherhood was about quieting all those other voices and listening to what made sense to me.
While microdosing is my personal choice and it is something that each person needs to find for themselves I found that it is comparable to motherhood. It might never looks like what other people want or think you should be doing, but at the end of the day it has to be right for you. After years of therapy, my medicinal cannabis use, creating a tribe of other supportive mothers and listening more deeply to my own voice I can say that those feelings have subsided. I still battle these feelings from time to time but I stand stronger than ever before and have more energy to dedicate to being a imperfectly perfect mom to Danny. While this journey for me at times have been frustrating, sad, and overwhelming I know that I had to go through this to be able to share it and help other ‘moms who medicate’ and even new moms to not feel alone and supported in this time. My feelings of shame and guilt although not every woman’s experience, it is mine. I am so grateful to have had the use of cannabis to assist in being more present and appreciative for my son and the support that I have received throughout this journey. No matter what happens I know that I will be the best Mom for my son.