***Before reading this – this is my experience and what I have found talking to a few of my friends. For those who are pregnant please consider whether you want to read this as I don’t want to cause you any worry***
So after 6 months of being a proper mum I realised it’s ok to talk about how you actually feel. These feelings aren’t what you are warned about in antenatal classes, in those you’re told to write all important phone numbers in a little book in case your phone dies, make sure you tell people when you want to see them and let them do house work if they offer it.
Things they don’t tell you:
- You’ll spend a week in your pjs and not care
- Everything changes, your routine, your friends, your ability to leave the house
- Not everything is as happy as you expected
- You’ll avoid socialising
- Your relationship with your partner will change
- You will feel lonely
- It’s not what everyone tells you you’ll feel
Nobody fully warns you about the lonely feeling that you will have when you’ve just had your baby.
“It will change your life” is something you’re constantly told. The magnitude of this change is never fully discussed
“You’ll never feel a love like it, it’s instant”
Now I understand why you aren’t told about a lot of these things because it’s bloody scary and that’s the last thing you need while carrying something the size of a watermelon round inside you.
I just want to put this out there so that any new mums that feel any of these things and want to talk about it, I’m here and I’ve felt it and it’s normal.
Tell people how you are feeling.
I didn’t. I bottle it up. I worried about how people would react to me saying a few of these things.
I didn’t feel that over whelming feeling of love when I first held Oliver. You know what you see in the films and there’s a slow pan to the mother gazing at the baby and the soppy music and softened edge to the screen. None. Of. That. This was an over riding guilt that weighed me down and I slowly felt worse and worse. Then as my hormones have settled and I’ve thought about it, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that about anything. I love Mike, but I don’t have a huge gush of emotion that oozes out of me for him. I’m not built that way, that’s not how I work. So how I felt with Oliver isn’t what I was led to believe I’d feel but it’s not wrong and I’m not any less in love with him. I was worried about something being wrong with me but my health visitor told me that she can see how much I love him and can see how much I love Mike and that it’s ok not to feel what everyone else says they feel because we’re all different
Maternity leave is lonely, I knew that I felt lonely but I put that down to me battling through coming to terms with Olivers diagnosis. After talking to other mums it would appear that, diagnosis or not, the lonely feeling is a common feeling. You go from working and socially interacting with other adult humans on a daily basis to, some weeks, only seeing your partner. They have been in work all day and are tired and as happy as they are to see you they don’t want to have a conversation that’s running 90 miles an hour because you’ve not had anyone else other than a baby who spends about 20 hours a day asleep. When they are awake they barely interact with you as they’re still basically a baked potato sat on the couch with you.
Your routine will change, getting out the house is now making sure you baby bag is packed, you probably won’t have done your hair or your makeup as this is no longer a necessity as it probably once was. This isn’t too much of an issue for me but I know others that never used to leave the house without looking immaculate that now don’t even get a chance to do it.
Baby groups aren’t always as fun as you like. Whether you’re being judged or not, you can often feel like you are being. I have an overwhelming feeling of needing to tell breastfeeding mothers that Oliver had a tube and I expressed for months and it all became a bit too much so I had to move to formula. I doubt the majority even care that I’m feeding with a bottle but I think the pushing of breast is best makes women feel guilty. DONT FEEL GUILTY. If your baby is being fed and having wet and dirty nappies that’s the best thing for the both of you, whether it comes from a bottle, your boob or both!
Your relationship will change. This is hinted at in antenatal classes but, again, I don’t think you are forewarned enough. Before a baby you and your partner are each other’s priority. Baby comes and all sorts is thrown into the mix. Bar the fact you both want to hold the baby and will eventually have to learn to take it turns, you both forget how much work you have to put into a relationship to make it work. This balanced with your working life, friendship circles and the need to look after a tiny defensless baby is actually quite a strain! I’m fortunate that Mike and I have swapped roles and he understands how I felt being at home alone now and that we both know how important the support we each need is. That doesn’t mean that the balance at the beginning wasn’t all over the place, you have to talk to each other to get through it.
Adjusting from being greeted when you walk into a room, to someone talking directly to the baby and them asking you a million questions about them and not sliding in a “how are you?” will eventually get to you. It’s not intentional and it’s something that you’ll learn to ask other mums when you see them, they’ll know you’re interested in the baby and want a hold but will appreciate that they got a look in.
Now as I always like to do. Make a positive point.
All of these feelings are normal, most mums experience one or two or all of these. You aren’t alone and having someone to chat to helps. It’s hard but nothing worth having comes easy. Oliver is the best thing that’s ever happened in my life and even with all these other bits going on I wouldn’t swap him for all the money in the world.
Never be afraid to reach out and talk to someone.
My overall experience so far as a mum has been amazing but I do think that there are things hidden away, brushed under the carpet and are a subject that are often avoided because you’re frightened of how others will react. I’m lucky that I’ve got a few new mums around me that I’ve been able to talk to and find a bond with to discuss these with. My inbox is always open to anyone that wants to chat about how they’re feeling 💖