This Photo Is Every Postpartum Mom

by Katie Cloyd
Originally Published: 
Katie Cloyd/Instagram

I took this photo in the hospital days after I had my baby.

I was bone-weary.

I had been crying. I look completely bewildered because I was. I just didn’t understand how I could be that tired and still in motion.

It was 3 a.m. I was washing breast pump parts in a basin in the hospital bathroom. Everything hurt. My maternity leggings were stained with breast milk and formula and blood.

I needed a shower. I needed sleep.

I needed to know the hard work and the excruciating pain would be worth it.

I took this photo because when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t just see myself.

I saw every woman who has ever been a few days into motherhood, simultaneously elated and impossibly tired.

When I saw myself in the reflection, I imagined the rainbow of faces of new mothers across time and history, all over the world in every corner of every civilization since time began.

I was alone in that room, but my tears, my happiness, my hope, my fear…they connect me to millions of other moms who can honestly say, “I see you. I’ve been there. We are the same.” There is so much difficultly swirled into the absolutely overwhelming love and gratitude of early motherhood.

Welcoming a new soul into existence is magical.

But even watching your wildest dreams come true can come with pain and desperation and loss and anxiety.

These early days are just hard. So hard.

And they are worth it. Eventually. I know that because this is not my first time. I have healed from this twice before. And I will do it again.

For now, I’m making space for Hard.


I’m embracing Hard.

Inviting Hard into this space knowing that it is just part of this process.

These hard days are ancient and sacred. They are a thread that weaves mothers together. Women have lived through this since time immemorial.

We survive. We are changed. We emerge from these tough days, and we are better. Stronger. Ready for the rest of it.

This kind of Hard is a chrysalis. Instead of fighting it, I’m letting it do its work.

I can’t wait to see who I become.

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners,) daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook page is here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all.)

This article was originally published on