You want to know something?
I never really got motherhood, before I had my baby a month ago. Even when I was pregnant, it was hard to think of ‘us’ as opposed to ‘me’. I had all sorts of ideas of what I would and wouldn’t feel, and where I would fit in the world.
I’m probably stating the obvious here, but being a mum is hard work.
I never for one second thought it would be easy, but it is so much harder than I first thought.
I was so determined to breastfeed, ‘breast is best’ and all that. I wanted my baby to get the best start; breastfeeding has so many benefits for babies. Had visions of me bonding with my daughter while she fed, and loved that very idea of closeness. I tried, and failed miserably. Although she had fed while we were in hospital, she didn’t feed so well when we came home. I didn’t know and thought she was feeding. My midwife came out a few days later and weighed my daughter; she had lost loads of weight, more than expected. I felt like a terrible, terrible mum. My baby had been hungry, and I hadn’t known. I felt so guilty, and had failed her. The midwife tried to give more support with breastfeeding, but my confidence had been knocked and my heart wasn’t in it. I had already failed and let my child down. So what did I do? Straight onto formula and haven’t looked back since.
I wish it had gone better, I wish I had stuck to it and given it another go. The guilt from my little one not feeding was too much, I didn’t trust myself to try it again as I might do it wrong again.
I always assumed I’d get a big rush of love the first time I held my child. I didn’t. I thought maybe it was because I was tired, or a bit sore; the ‘love’ will come after I had a good rest. It didn’t. The only thing I felt was guilt and numbness. Guilty because I didn’t have the ‘love’ and wasn’t successful with the breastfeeding. Numb because none of this was expected, and I didn’t know how else to feel. I felt suddenly overwhelmed with motherhood, and wondered if I would even measure up to other mums. I wondered if my inexperience showed when the midwife, health visitor or any other kind of visitor saw me with my daughter. I felt like there was something very wrong with me, because I didn’t have the ‘love’, and I wasn’t expecting that. My partner seemed to have bonded with our daughter almost immediately, but I hadn’t. And this made absolutely no sense to me, because seeing as I had carried her and then pushed her out; I would have thought I would have had no problem with bonding with my child. Wrong.
I spoke to the midwife who assured me that most women feel like this after childbirth. Apparently, it’s more common than we think; it’s just that nobody talks about it. She mentioned baby blues, and Postnatal Depression, and asked me if she would like me to mention it to the health visitor. She offered to book a counselling session for me, to see if it would help. Suddenly, I didn’t feel such a crappy mum for feeling all this. Big weights off my shoulders, well, some of it anyway.
It’s been 4 weeks since I had my daughter, and so much has changed.
Motherhood is hard work and demanding, the days go fast and I hardly get a moment’s peace. My daughter is growing so fast, it is hard to believe it and take it in. The feelings of love are coming slowly, the bonding has definitely started to happen, and I’m starting to feel a little more confident as a mother. I think a lot of my anxieties were caused by my idea of how a mum should be, and whether or not I would actually measure up to it. I didn’t want to let my midwife down or the health visitor down. I didn’t want anyone to look at me and think “She’s a shit mum.” I’m not afraid to ask for help when I need it, but didn’t want people thinking I couldn’t cope and shouldn’t be a mum.
I wasn’t expecting to feel any of this, and I wish we had been told about this in the antenatal classes.
But I’ve now come to the conclusion I won’t let other people’s expectations of a mother, get in the way of what kind of mother I want to be. I will try not to put any pressure on myself to be or feel a certain way. I’m new at this; it’s a learning curve, and a whole new journey in my life.
I’m a feminist mum; this is a whole new concept to me. I will try and be the kind of mum I want to be, not the kind of mum society tells me I should be. There is a difference, and I will remember this the next time I feel crappy.
Sorry for rambling on, I just wanted to share my experience so far.