I’ve always known I was going to be a mum. I believed it without a doubt. I had no idea when, I had no idea who with, I just KNEW.
I didn’t grow up around babies. The women around me never talked openly about the ups and downs of motherhood. All I knew was what I had heard and seen from society – movies, books, magazines. It was all left wide open, unanswered. Even in antenatal class these things were brushed over. It was a quick crash course in what options of painkillers you have, one lesson on how to swaddle and bath your baby, natural birth vs. Caesarean and the options of where to birth with all the pros and cons.
I had no idea what I was doing. But I trusted. I knew I was meant to be a mum.
It started with pregnancy. I had no idea it would be so emotionally, physically and mentally demanding. You only ever hear of pregnancies being two things – an absolute breeze and they loved it, or a nightmare they hated! Same with the birth: mostly I’d heard how horrible it was from other women. My plans for an all natural birth at a birthing centre went out the window and after a 31-hour labour, no sleep for three days, no food, 1.5L of blood loss and an episiotomy, my son was born, healthy and well in the hospital. I was cleaned up, stitched up and put into a shared room with another mum and her crying baby. I was so weak I needed help to go to the toilet, and to lift my son so I could feed him. My partner could not stay with me – I was left alone, hours after giving birth to my son. I was scared, tired, so tired, hungry, sore, weak and lonely. The nurses did their best, but there was a strike on, and each time I’d have someone new with different opinions, which was confusing. I had no idea how to breastfeed properly. It did not come naturally to me. It hurt, a lot. I worried my son wasn’t getting anything, but I knew I had to keep trying.
Again, each midwife had different opinions on how to get my son to feed and sleep, again, confusing. I began to go with my gut and listen to what felt aligned to me instinctively, intuitively.
After a blood transfusion, I transferred to the birthing centre. My partner was able to stay with me for two nights. I had a proper bed and proper food (don’t get me started on how a woman is supposed to heal when given sugar-laden cereal with an extra sugar packet on the side!) and more support. Again, each midwife had different opinions on how to get my son to feed and sleep, again, confusing. I began to go with my gut and listen to what felt aligned to me instinctively, intuitively. I sat in the feeding chair like a zombie, holding my son and hoping he was getting nourishment, gritting my teeth through any pain.
On the fourth day after I gave birth my milk came in – yay things were working! We started to get the hang of this breastfeeding thing, the pain slowly started to wane, and we found our rhythm. I was still very weak, severely sleep deprived and sore when I went home. I had a week and a half of my mum and partner to help me adjust to caring for this helpless little human 24/7. NOT ENOUGH TIME, BY THE WAY! Some women are lucky to have family around for longer; not me.
This little human needs me. I am his source of food. I am his world. I accept that, I love him more than anything on this earth; that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Those first few weeks when Dan went back to work were hard. I was still healing and sore. I was stuck in the chair feeding for hours then holding and rocking my baby to sleep for hours. Showering, eating and going to the toilet were my priorities after ensuring my son was happy. The isolation and lack of independence hit. I wasn’t in a place I grew up in. I knew a handful of people, no family. I knew one person with a baby, several months older than mine and the girls in my antenatal class I’d only met a few times – their babies were all 4-6 weeks older than mine. I have always been a very independent person; being stuck in the house with a baby on me, was hard. It still is! I want desperately to have my body to myself for a few moments. I want to just go for a drive or SOMETHING by myself for however long I want. I couldn’t, I can’t. This little human needs me. I am his source of food. I am his world. I accept that, I love him more than anything on this earth; that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There’s an adjustment period needed. Patience and presence required.
I began reading through posts on online mum groups I had been added to, thinking that there would be other mothers out there going through what I was. There was. For a while it was nice to have the reassurance, nice to know I wasn’t alone. Then the nastiness came through. The comparing, the judgement, the arguing, the rudeness. I thought we were in this together? I thought as women, as mums, we all understood the ups and downs, we all understood that we each have different babies and different ways of parenting? There was a dark side to these mum groups I didn’t want to be a part of. I retreated and decided to focus on my mama intuition. It gets stronger by the day. I spend my time speaking to mamas who are supportive and non-judgemental. I get out for walks with my son, and I nip off for an hour or two when I can.
There was a dark side to these mum groups I didn’t want to be a part of. I retreated and decided to focus on my mama intuition. It gets stronger by the day. I spend my time speaking to mamas who are supportive and non-judgemental
Being a new mum is a crazy ride. It is the most beautiful, yet most difficult thing I have ever done. His smile melts my heart. I have never known a love like this. I share my story because I want women to know it’s OK to struggle sometimes. It’s OK to feel lonely. It’s OK to ask for support. It’s OK to share the raw truth. No matter what, we are ALL in this journey together. Let’s help other new mums by being open and honest about this crazy beautiful journey. Remember, we are all doing our best, and that is enough.