The good, the bad and the ugly

The good, the bad and the ugly

So you probably know from my first blog that I am pretty honest about how I’m feeling, sometimes maybe too honest (I’m working on oversharing) and I certainly don’t sugar coat anything. I won’t lie, motherhood didn’t come naturally to me and I haven’t coped as well as I thought I would. I didn’t consider myself a selfish person pre-baby and we had been trying to get pregnant for some time so I thought I was ready to be a mother but it has shaken me to my core, broken me, built me up, beaten me, made me a better person and bought out dimensions of myself I never thought existed, both amazing and terrifying. I think most new mothers can relate but really, what was I expecting?

I am a very naïve person, if you told me carrots grew on trees I would probably believe you. But I knew having a baby wouldn’t be easy, I just didn’t expect I would struggle as much as I have. A lot of my friends had children, my sister had 3 kids and they were all still alive and thriving so I figured they were all killing it at parenthood and so would I. When ever you tell people your trying for a baby everyone’s reactions for the most part are something along the lines of “congratulations, your going to be a great mother” or “oh my gosh, how exciting” but you rarely hear “congrats, good luck with that”. I mean, that would probably be rude but I think I would have appreciated some brutal honesty, rather than the usual “you’re never going to sleep again” (I’ve actually been pretty lucky as Chloe has always been a decent sleeper – got that from her mumma) I would have benefited from the odd “baby blues are horrible, that shit will eat at your soul” or “you might feel like your uterus will slip out of your vagina for a few weeks afterwards”. I guess nothing could have really prepared me for the changes I was about to go through but a good poke with the truth stick wouldn’t have hurt.

I know everyone experiences parthood differently and every child is not cookie cutter like the books, but I thought I had a rough idea of what motherhood would be like. I knew there would be days that Chloe would cry for no particular reason and there would be times I would resemble a zombie salivating for coffee like it was a human brain, but I thought there would also be a lot of moments like on the Huggies Nappy ads where I would gently stroke my baby on the tummy and we would look lovingly in each other eyes as if we were in slow motion with soft whimsical melodies playing in the background. Well I’m not saying we don’t have those moments as we do (although our montages usually include me in 4 day old PJ’s and the possibility of poop under my 3 week old self-manicured nails) but the first few months were a never ending cycle of unrelenting tears and tantrums (mostly from me), feelings of resentment, guilt, sadness, some more guilt and then times of so much love and euphoria that I felt like my heart might explode. I joke that I will never have any more children but it is just going to take me a while for my sanity to return to an acceptable level, maybe ask me in 5 years after I have experienced toddler-hood – super excited for the (insert sarcasm here).

I’m not a proud or stubborn person but I have always struggled to ask for help, mainly because I don’t want to bother anyone with my seemingly trivial issues (my therapist and I are working on that, #notashamedtoshare) but it can be dangerous to be in your own head for too long. Sometimes when it seems like someone has it all figured out from the outside, they might be screaming for help on the inside. Everyone has their own struggles they are dealing with and some are better at hiding it than others but as I have learnt most new mums will have faced the same or similar struggles at one point. I definitely regret not joining a mothers group to begin with but I think its really important to reach out to friends with kids or find groups in the community that can be some kind of support for you even if its to grab a coffee so you can secretly be thankful your child is not as much of a shit as theirs (yeah, I’m the one with the wriggling squealing shit kid in these cases). I’ve spent my fair share of days wondering around BigW and Woolies scoping out fellow mumma’s with children waiting for a little tot to have an epic meltdown so I can swoop in and lend a hand to help her seize the moment with her mini terrorists, I haven’t had my hero moment yet but after the internal struggle I have been through I will always be there to help a mumma out should she need it. And I have now joined that mothers group I should have joined in the beginning, we have our first meet up next week so I am eagerly awaiting that like a kid on Christmas Eve.

I try to be as honest as I can with my newly pregnant friends but I know parenthood really isn’t as bad as I make it out to be sometimes, I just haven’t taken to it as well as I thought and that’s ok. I love my daughter to death, like I could actually die when she reaches her hand out to me with her smile eyes when I creep into her room to collect her from her cot or when she throws a cheeky grin my way after she has just let one rip on my lap. That glorious motherly instinct doesn’t always kick in as soon as you give birth and look into your baby’s eyes, it sometimes doesn’t even kick in when you take them for their first shots and they scream in a tone that you know is saying “mummy, help me” but that’s ok, it will come. And once it does you will never be the same again – that little tot has me wrapped around her little pinky for the rest of her life so I will savor every single minute, the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety beyondblue can help with 24/7 phone support on 1300 224 636. “We all have good days and bad days. Then there are those days when something isn’t quite right, you’ve got something on your mind, or things just seem too much. Whatever it may be, sharing the load with someone else can really help.”

 

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Chloe impersonating me, we got that crazy face on point

 

 

 

 

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Has motherhood made me crazy?

Has motherhood made me crazy?

This is something I find I ask myself pretty much daily. Ask me 5 years ago and I probably would have cringed at the thought of having a baby – we definitely weren’t ‘baby people’. But as soon as I turned 26 its like my ovaries started throbbing every time I saw a baby onesie in Target. Chloe was no oopsie, we had troubles conceiving due to my dodgy reproductive system and Brett being away so often didn’t help with lining up my very irregular ovulation cycles with the baby making. But after a year and a half we finally got lucky, I know it can take couples a lot longer than this even with the male working and living in the same place so I do consider us very lucky in that regard.

Now I’m sorry to those that didn’t or aren’t having a fun pregnancy (much love Minty) but I really loved being pregnant. I would joke at work that I had such an easy pregnancy I was bound to have a horrific labor or a terrible child, I am just not that luck to have everything go perfect. Now I’m not saying Chloe is a terrible child, well not all the time anyhow, but my labor was pretty easy – 3 hours, no drugs (no time), it fucking hurt but it was quick and I came out of it with a few stiches but otherwise unscathed. I had a perfect healthy baby, 10 fingers and 10 toes and just cute as a button. Then it was time to take our bundle of joy home, oh that’s when the fun really starts.

I, like all new parents, worried about everything in those first few months – was she drinking enough, was she getting enough sleep, was she stimulated enough, was she over stimulated, am I holding her neck right, is there too much dust in the air where she sleeps – you know, the normal crazy shit new mums go insane over. The first few months are kind of a blur but I will never forget the day after (or the day of – that shit was intense) my husband went back to work for the first time. Chloe was nearly 5 weeks old and all of a sudden she started to scream bloody murder for the duration of her feed every feed. I googled until  my finger tips had calluses and most of what I came across said Reflux (or in Chloe’s case Silent Reflux as she wasn’t a spewer). For those that don’t know Silent Reflux is when refluxed material flows back into the esophagus, but isn’t forced out of the mouth. It sits in the esophagus and causes pain – similar to heartburn for adults. I wont go into the details of the endless methods I tried to make Chloe more comfortable while feeding, I’m sure I have a word limit of some kind, but things got pretty miserable. Chloe would scream in pain and I couldn’t do anything to help her, Brett was at work up North and I rarely got more than a few minutes a night to talk to him due to poor reception at camp, and as my luck would have it my parents planned a last minute trip to Bali at the same time as Brett going back to work (it was a much deserved break so no hard feelings ma and pa). My sister helped where should could but she has a litter of kids herself and a partner that works away also so I didn’t want to rely on her with her being in the same boat.

And so I spiraled into mumsanity. I would google every day what I could try to combat the Silent Reflux, I spent hundreds of dollars on pediatrician appointments, Ngala day stays, different bottles, formulas, medicines (prescription and natural) all of which never really worked for Chloe. I went crazy trying new things every couple of days all because of the copious amounts of recommendations on the internet. I felt like I was an inadequate mother as I didn’t know how to make my baby better – my only job was to keep her safe and love her but I couldn’t even do that because I was consumed with thinking there was something terribly wrong and I had to fix it. I wasn’t enjoying motherhood.

Now 7 months on and the clouds have cleared I can see what drove me crazy, it was me. It was the continuous doubt, second guessing, stubbornness to listen to my motherly instinct and fear of asking for help. There’s no handbook for mothering, you can take what you want from the information your given but at the end of the day you just have to listen to your baby, trust that you can do it and ask for help if you need it (I’m still working on the asking for help part but I’ll get there). Don’t get me wrong, we still definitely have bad days and I don’t expect any less now that we are hitting teething and tot-tantrums (or pre toddler tantrums) but I’m feeling a lot less crazy, google is no longer my top visited site on my web browser and I am definitely enjoying motherhood. I still worry about everything, like the ties on the cot bumper and if she’ll get them untied and roll herself up in the bumper and suffocate, but that’s totally normal for any parent so I’m ok with it. And I’m still definitely crazy but I’m ok with that too.

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Chloe Alexis in her first few moments of arriving