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.”