I’ve realised quite a few of you are expecting or are new mums. I’m not a fabulously experienced mum – I have only Amazing M who is a few months shy of a year old. But I will share with you a few things you may experience and give you a few tips on staying sane and happy. Skip this post if this is totally irrelevant to you!
1) The first six months are the toughest months. You will be someone’s slave around the clock and the sooner you accept this, the easier you will find it.
2) It’s ok to ask for help. Don’t be like me and feel you need to do everything on your own. That was part of why I got into a depressive funk for a while. You need help in every possible shape and form – from emotional support to someone taking the baby away for ten minutes while you get some shut eye or a breather from being a mother.
3) Breast feeding may not come naturally and it may hurt like hell. Think razor blades on nipples. Think bloody faced baby and blood stained poos. Think dreading every single feed time. Think worse than labour… Have I put you off yet?
4) It is worth it to persevere with breast feeding if it doesn’t encroach on your psychological and physical well being. Having endured 10 weeks of nipple pain, I have to say that I am one hell of a stubborn mumma. This baby was going to get breast milk no matter what. Having said that, I am not so sure I will be as persistent next time around if I had to go through the same thing.
5) It’s ok to feel like you just want to chuck the baby out of the window in the first weeks. I certainly felt like it, as I had no idea what I was doing and everything was so damned overwhelming. These thoughts aren’t an aberration, and it doesn’t mean you are a horrible person.
6) It’s normal to feel down in the first weeks. At least that is what my midwife told me when I thought I was going to break down with depression ( I did have another blip a few months down the track but that’s another story…). You have just lost your independence and someone is relying on you 24/7 to keep them safe, happy and alive. Life is never going to be the same no matter how you see things. If your blues continue for longer, seek professional help. 10% of mothers get post natal depression and the sooner you ask for help, the sooner you can get back on track to enjoying life and motherhood.
7) Seeking a support network is important. If you’re are doing it like me – away from close friends and family, it is vital to get a support network in place. You need someone to talk baby talk to, someone to share your worries and assuage your worst fears. My local coffee morning meetings with other mums were so important in helping me get out of the house and in doing so, made me feel so much better.
8) It’s ok to want to strangle your partner. The hormones post partum are partly to blame. Mr B’s slow start in awesome-fatherhood also part of the equation. Sometimes some people (including women) need time to adjust to parenthood. It’s a huge change, and we were both very selfish people – we could do what we wanted, whenever we wanted without a care in the world. No obligations, no need to do anything for anyone else… and BAM! This writhing pink creature with a huge set of lungs comes into our lives to make an abrupt end to all of that freedom. It certainly took some getting used to. Loads of ‘talks’ and negotiating and tears and tantrums later we are finally at a place where we can be and are awesome, amazing and fantastic parents. The key is communication.
9) Motherhood is extremely challenging, if you hadn’t got the drift yet. Sure, you think you know how hard it is going to be, but you never really realise, experience or feel it till you’re a momma. Just tough it out for a while and I guarantee you it will all be worth it when they are able to reach out for you with wide, open arms.
10) It’s ok to want feel acknowledged that you are doing a fine job. If you don’t get that from your partner, give him a nudge or a kick – whichever way works. And if that doesn’t help, tell yourself just how incredibly awesome you are. You are a freaking great mother and doing the best you can. Got it?
11) One day you will experience this incredible surge of intense, mind boggling feeling that I know to be unconditional love. If you are lucky, you will feel it the moment you set eyes on the babe. I was in awe the first moment I saw Amazing M, but this love I feel now didn’t come for a while. In fact there were times I felt quite numb towards her in the early days, and that was quite unnerving. Give it time and be patient with yourself.
12) There will be a time where you will actually feel normal again. Not a mother, not a dairy cow on call, not a nappy changer or burper. You will feel like your own person again.
13) It’s of extreme importance to get some you-time. Take a walk, a massage, a therapy session, whatever floats your boat. It’s ok to be selfish. In fact I will argue that it is imperative that you retain your selfish gene. You need to be operating at full mental and physical capacity to be a great mother and partner. So put yourself first and stop trying to be and do everything for everyone. You’ll end up being resentful and that ain’t good for the soul.
14) You will get some decent sleep at some point. In my case it took six and a half months. Sometimes it takes a lot longer and if you are extremely lucky, your baby will sleep well from day one.
Lovely mums and mums-to-be, just be kind to yourself. You are amazing!!