Vanessa Lachey (nee Minnillo) wanted to be a mom more than anything. So when she gave birth to a healthy baby boy last September — her first child with husband Nick Lachey — she felt like she was living a dream. And then reality settled in.
In a new blog entry on her official website, the first-time mother opens up about overcoming the baby blues just a couple of weeks after welcoming son Camden John. (Lachey first revealed her struggle in an interview with Us Weekly on Feb. 20, but at the time she said it occurred four days after his birth.) "I never thought it would happen to me," she admits.
Things with Camden got off to a great start. "I remember that first night in the hospital, after 14 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing, how it was ALL worth it!" Lachey, 32, gushes. "I couldn't understand how anyone could ever feel anything less than this enormous amount of pure love! I looked over and saw Nick holding Camden in his perfect hospital swaddle, and I felt so at peace and right where I was supposed to be."
That feeling lasted until 9 a.m. the next morning, when Lachey woke up in a panic over missing a feeding. "I was screaming at myself, Why didn't he wake?! Why did my maternal instinct not kick in and wake myself to feed him? He must be STARVING! I'm a bad mom!" she writes. "Tears were rolling down my cheeks. My hopes and dreams of being the perfect *natural* mother were shattered."
The Wipeout host put the incident behind her and tried instead to focus on basking in the glow of new motherhood, but within two weeks of bringing her son home from the hospital, she "noticed a swing" in her emotions. Part of it was not having enough quality alone time with her son when he wasn't feeding — "I was sick of feeling like a milk machine," she says — and part of it was realizing the magnitude of the responsibility she had taken on.
"I think it's just fear…The fear of not knowing what I'm doing. The fear of 'messing up' this little boy. The fear of being responsible for a human being and not knowing any 'life' experiences to compare moments with him to," she writes. "No matter how many books you read, NOTHING prepares you better than the real thing. I felt lost, unloved, alone and at my wits end."
Lachey's inner turmoil continued to fester until Sept. 29, when the weight of her world came crashing down around her. "I started crying. I was feeding Camden and crying my eyes out," she confesses. "I felt like I had officially come undone."
"I didn't feel like myself," she continues. "Where was the super woman who always thought and knew she could do it all? Where was the organized Vanessa who had it all under control no matter what the obstacle? She was gone, and I thought…forever."
Lachey gave the baby to Nick and took a drive to clear her head. "I went to Starbucks, came home, took a shower, put myself together and came upstairs to give my husband a kiss and tell him I was sorry…I was sorry for the weeks of losing myself. I was sorry for the weeks to come when I [wouldn't] be myself," she explains. "And it made me feel so much better."
"It's okay if we can't do it ALL," she writes, "because…we have already done so much…There is no Camden without me. And I want him to see the best of me in hopes that he can grow up to be an amazing, wonderful happy man who finds his own me in himself. That's what family and life is all about. Being whole with yourself, to be the best you for everyone else."
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