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Things Nobody Told Me as a New Mom

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I became a mum to my beautiful daughter 51 weeks ago (and three days as I write this). She is the most amazing, loving, clever and sweet little girl I could ever have imagined. I love her with all my being and would do anything to protect her or enhance her life. These are all of the things I had expected and hoped to feel as a new mum. They are the feeling I thought I was “supposed to feel.” Nobody ever told me about the other thoughts and feelings too. So here is my honest view on being a new mum. Because nobody ever told me…

Everybody says having a child is never easy, that they are hard work, but so rewarding. I kept thinking to myself people have children all the time, more than once for many people. So it must be an enjoyable experience. But the honest truth is, whilst I love my little girl, the experience has destroyed me.

There will be many mums out there who fly through motherhood (relatively speaking) and enjoy their maternity leave, and every moment with their children. I cannot pretend to be one of those people. Ever since the day my daughter was born I have battled with myself and how I feel, compared to how I am supposed to feel.

I didn’t feel that instant loving moment; that came a few days later at home. I didn’t find breastfeeding easy, and had to formula feed my baby from a week old. I didn’t have a support network because COVID-19 had other ideas. My husband went back to working shifts and I didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel most days, thanks to postpartum depression. So no, I wasn’t feeling enjoyment, wonder and delight. I was feeling alone, broken and like a failure.

Those feelings stayed with me for almost six months. People would ask me in the street how I was finding it, and to their utter horror, I was honest. I would say it’s really hard and not that enjoyable right now. Likewise people now say, “are you planning a second?” and again to their dismay, my response is categorically not. There is long term contraception implanted and I can hand on heart say I have not even for a second considered that a second child is something I want.

In the spirit of honesty, however, I will say its not all doom and gloom. From six months onwards I started to find my feet. I didn’t cry or breakdown every day; I managed a few days in a row where I was OK. For us, putting my little angel in nursery once a week was what we and she needed, and it was the best thing we could have ever done. (Note: she now goes four days a week whilst I go to work and be something other than a mother or a wife for a few days).

A year on and I can honestly say I am starting to enjoy motherhood. That is not to say I don’t still cry on an almost daily basis, and I am still working on my postpartum depression. But I am getting there. And whilst I still do not want a second child, the love and bond I have with the one I have grows stronger each and every day.

So if you are planning on having a child, have a child or are about to have one… If you see the mum walking down the street with her “perfect” life, who looks to be coping way better than you are… Know there are some of us out there who have a different story to tell, some of us feel able to be honest about it and some of us put on brave faces. Either way, anything you feel is OK. The only feeling that’s not OK, is that you are not enough. Because you are.

Image via contributor

Originally published: April 23, 2021
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