Home truths about being a first time mum
Last week, I was standing in the chemist when I overheard a young mother talking to the pharmacist about her newborn baby’s colic and reflux symptoms. I immediately had horrific flashbacks of 5 hour long screaming matches and endless tears (not just from my baby). I saw myself in her – a mum trying anything and everything to ease her little ones pain and perhaps gain even just one hour of sleep as a result.
Let’s face it – being a parent is damn hard at times, no matter if you are blessed with a sleeping baby or one that wakes every 20 minutes. It’s hard! And anyone with a baby who has reflux will know it’s not an easy road. Sometimes hours can go by with your baby screaming in your arms and there is nothing you can do to ease the pain. Some nights I would pray that I could feel the pain instead just so my bub could get some rest and other nights I would simply just pray for sleep.
I looked over to this Mum in the chemist and I decided to reach out to her. I told her that it would be ok. Her baby will get better. From this moment, the vulnerability of this new mum was evident as she started crying in my arms. I felt her pain, her desperation, her exhaustion and her helplessness all at once. I felt my own experience as a new mum all over again.
I haven’t stopped thinking about her since, and as a result, it made me look back on the lead up to the arrival of my first baby. All the well wishes, the positive comments about how amazing every minute of motherhood is, how I was going to make a great mum and how motherhood is the best time of your life. Nothing at all about how you might feel like a failure at times, that you could feel completely helpless, or that you may not actually be faced with a rush of emotion when you hold your baby for the first time, or even that you might be crying in the chemist one day because you just don’t know what to do anymore – and that’s completely ok.
Why is it as women, as Mums, that even though we have been through so much with our children that most of the time we don’t discuss this with the mums to be? Before my life was so blessed with the arrival of my children I believed that ‘Yes! I am going to be a damn good mum and this is going to be the best time of my life” because that’s what I was told and at the time I had the confidence in myself to believe it. My career was on a successful path so why wouldn’t my journey as a mother be?
It’s true that NOW this is the best time of my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My family amazes me every single day and I love them like no other. But THEN, in those first few weeks of motherhood, feeling sore, exhausted, and vulnerable? No way! It was the worst influx of emotion that I had ever experienced and I instantly felt guilty for feeling that way. Why wasn’t this the best time of my life? Why can’t I do this? Why is this so hard? Why don’t I feel the way everyone said I would?
The truth is, as parents, we all feel like this. We all have moments where we aren’t coping – and it’s completely normal. Any parent who tries to say that every day is magical and they find it a super easy road is lying. By doing so, they aren’t helping themselves and they certainly aren’t helping those around them.
Perhaps we only discuss the positives because we forget the tough times (unlikely) as we get older, perhaps its just because the good outweigh the bad or perhaps its simply because we don’t want a mum-to-be to feel scared before their baby arrives. I don’t know. But what I do know is that it’s better to talk about the realities of motherhood than to hide away from them. Reaching out to others and talking about the tough times is what can get us through to the other side.
We all feel frustrated, guilty, exhausted, and at times like we are losing the plot, and you know what? It’s ok. Because that’s the beauty of parenthood – it’s a crazy ride and sometimes you will fall off but you will be better for it.