Saturday, 17 July 2021

Saturday Stories - Becoming Mum

One of my friends daughters recently had a baby and it got me thinking about the motherhood myth that we're all sold. We're told that having a baby will be amazing, we'll fall instantly in love with the baby, we'll be happy, excited and everything will be wonderful. We're expected to look after the baby, look perfectly put together, keep the house clean, fit back into our pre baby clothes, have a meal ready for our partner when they get home and just be all round perfect. When it doesn't happen like that we think something's wrong and that we're not coping.  
Those expectations are unrealistic and just set us up for failure. The reality is totally different. 
They say you'll get a huge rush of love the second you see your baby, you'll instinctively recognise it, mother nature will take over so you'll just know how to look after your baby and you'll know what it's cries mean. None of those things were true for me. 
I couldn't tell my babies cries from any other children, if you'd put them in a line up I couldn't have picked my child, I didn't get a rush of love the second I saw them and the only way I figured out my babies cries was from watching Dunstans Baby Language. 

Giving birth for the first time is tough, exhausting and often quite scary. Once it's finally over we're too tired to be thrilled about our beautiful bundle of joy. We're sore, scared, totally exhausted, we have no idea what we're doing and we're worried that there's something wrong because of instead of being ecstatic we're numb. 
When I had Chai I felt empty, like I'd lost something. I wasn't happy, I wasn't excited, I was nothing. A week after I had him a friend came to visit. She asked me how I felt when I saw him and I just looked at her. She told me it'd been the same for her, she saw her baby and felt nothing. That helped because she was a brilliant mother, so I realised that I wasn't broken. 
Expecting someone to go through an experience that's like running a marathon you have no way to prepare for and then feel ecstatic is just ridiculous. Stop putting that pressure on women. Stop telling them it's going to be the best experience of their lives. Stop making them feel bad for not instantly falling in love with their baby.
I have a theory. I think that when we get pregnant we love the baby straight away, so when we give birth some of us don't get that rush of love because we're already in love with the baby. It's not that we aren't bonding with the baby, we're already bonded. 
The whole bonding with the baby seems pretty silly to me. It's a tiny baby, you love it, you look after it, yet there's all this pressure on you to bond with the baby. How the hell are you supposed to do that? It's a tiny creature that's been reliant on you for it's survival for 9 months, you're already bonded.

It's difficult to feel happy when you're exhausted, in pain from the birth, responsible for looking after another human, learning how to breastfeed, you've got fluid leaking from your boobs and your vagina, you can't sit without pain, your boobs hurt and everyone keeps on coming in to goo over the baby, prod you and ask if you've done a poo today.

On top of all that, the transition to motherhood isn't easy. You go from just looking after yourself to being responsible for the life of someone else. All of a sudden it's like you don't exist and all anyone cares about is the child. No-one asks how the Mum is, it's all about the baby. The focus should be on Mum. Happy Mum, happy baby.
As if that wasn't enough, becoming a Mum can bring back issues you had with your Mum that you thought you'd resolved so you're also dealing with that. 
Everything is Mum's fault. If the baby isn't putting on enough weight, that's Mum's fault. If the baby doesn't sleep through the night, that's Mum's fault. Everyone has an opinion about how she should be looking after her baby and it's infuriating. I recall telling hubby one day that I didn't "give a flying f@ck what the boys at work had to say, if they're such experts they can come and raise the f@cking baby!" 

Whilst we're talking about baby sleeping through the night, some babies don't. I know adults who don't sleep through the night so expecting a baby to is stupid. 

Here's what I think. 
Do what feels right for you. 
It's okay if you feel numb, you've been through a huge, life changing event. It'll take time to feel normal again and that's okay. 
For the first few months don't try to do anything other than look after yourself and the baby. Stay in your pj's, don't cook, don't clean, just look after you and the bub. If you want to stay in bed all day, stay in bed all day. 
Take the pressure off and let yourself ease into motherhood. It takes time to adjust. The birth of the mother is just as important as the birth of the child. Your whole life has changed, so ease into it gently. 
Know that whilst it's a difficult adjustment you can do it and everything is going to be okay. 
Don't worry about trying to get back to your pre baby shape, that'll happen in it's own good time. 
Accept help when you need it. 
Know that the second time around is so much easier. 
Most importantly, always remember that you're a wonderful Mum.

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