I initially wrote this in May after a couple of rough months with Tyler due to his reflux and general digestive discomfort making it difficult for him to sleep. A few days ago, I heard a mother at school say that she had told her daughter to shut up after she just would not stop whining and she felt really ashamed to share this. I then remembered this post…..
Recently I have been blessed to come into contact with a few mothers whose babies are the same age as Tyler. As we have gently opened up to each other the truth has unfolded about how each of us is struggling in our own ways. I am not scared to be honest as I believe it allows others to be honest. While I have to be honest with myself that it is difficult to face possible judgement, I also know that when I am honest as a mother it is usually beneficial for me and seems to help those I am sharing with too. For the most part other mothers like to know that they are not alone and they are normal. I noticed this during pregnancy as well. I was very nauseous through a great deal of the pregnancy and the constant feeling of being ill often caused me to feel down. It is very difficult when people exclaim how excited you must be and you actually just feel so yuck that the excitement is overshadowed. I was definitely a little depressed in the first trimester of both my pregnancies and lost lots of weight as I couldn’t eat a thing. I just felt miserable. I opened up about this to other pregnant moms and I was told by one in particular how grateful she was to know she was not abnormal to feel that way.
Another aspect of this is that I have recently met three mothers who are just not ready, and don’t know if they will ever be ready, for baby number two due to the what most of them refer to as the ‘trauma’ of the first time experience. It’s damn hard and it can be very traumatic if your expectations are different because people have painted this beautiful picture and your baby never seems to be happy and always niggles and never sleeps, and you, the child’s mother who ‘should’ be able to comfort that child, can’t do it.
So here goes – to all those mothers who are expecting, who have babies, and who are too scared to go through it all over again:
If you have shouted at your baby to JUST GO TO SLEEP or to SHUT UP you are not alone;
If your gradual, gentle rocking has become rough and angry you are not alone;
If you have thought about throwing your baby you are not alone;
If you have looked at your baby with tears streaming down your face feeling absolutely powerless and overwhelmed you are not alone
If you have felt numb and battled to find that joy that you had felt when your baby first came into your life you are not alone
If you have left your baby crying in the cot/on the bed and walked away for fear of hurting him/her, you are not alone
If you have felt like you must be the worst mother in the world because ‘how could you feel this way?’ you are not alone
If you have wished you could have your old baby-free life back just for a little while you are not alone
If you feel like you are going to be stuck in this overwhelming helplessness forever you are not alone
If you have simply just sat and stared at your crying baby and felt like giving up completely you are not alone
If you have been thrilled about the opportunity to leave your baby with someone else for a while you are not alone
If you have felt any of these things please know that you are not alone and there are MANY mothers out there who have felt the same. Most mothers go through a stage or stages when it is really, really hard.
While I am saying you are not alone that does not mean that you, and the many like you who feel like this, should just have to endure feeling like this because it is ‘part of the mothering experience’ so ‘just deal with it’. If you feel like this often why not consider chatting to a counsellor or coach specialised in working with mothers; go for a massage, talk to a friend, receive some reflexology. Support can come in many forms. (Please note that if you are feeling suicidal or constantly numb I highly recommend seeking professional help). For many mothers early motherhood involves moments of darkness, and support can really assist to make those earlier months more manageable. Please remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and there are countless other mothers who have also sought help and treatment, many of whom you actually know. They probably just don’t don’t talk about it.
We used to parent in communities – all the women would assist each other and you didn’t have to be the only one feeding, comforting and waking up countless times a night. It was possible to leave your child with someone else and find time for you. It was possible for all the other women to know how you were feeling and what you were going through and to step in when necessary. This doesn’t happen now. We feel bad asking others to help as they too are busy – especially our partners who are often still needing to work while we may not be (particularly in the first months). It’s really not that surprising that mothers feel they tip over the edge every now and then, or even more often than that, given the circumstances in which we now rear children.
But please trust me on this –
You WILL find the light at the end of the tunnel
You WILL get to the point when you can sit with your child’s head resting on your shoulder fast asleep and feel the greatest joy and peace, and this will happen more and more often
You WILL be able to hold your crying/screaming child with compassion and love without feeling overwhelming helplessness
You WILL want to sit and stare at this little person and breathe in their loveliness and wonder how it could have been so damn hard
You WILL get through the darker times. It always does pass and will pass far faster if you can be vulnerable and honest and seek help and talk to others.
We owe that to ourselves as parents and we owe it to other parents to help them to know they are normal in feeling these things.
And they are not alone.