New motherhood is a bit of a dick

motherdick‘How are you finding motherhood?’ People would ask shortly after the arrival of my first baby.

‘So great,’ I lied, fighting back the tears. ‘Best thing ever.’

The truth is, I felt like crap.

But I had seen the smiling new mums on Facebook holding tiny babies in their arms. I had read the glossy parenting magazines. I knew how I should be feeling. I should be glowing with happiness at the arrival of a beautiful, healthy child. So why wasn’t I?

When we had visitors, I reluctantly showered and dressed, put on my make up and pretended to be loving this mothering stuff.

I gave everyone what they expected. I shouldn’t have done.

By not being honest I was only helping to reinforce the lie that new baby equals instant joy. The very lie that had made me feel terrible in the first place.

I should have told the truth. “I have STITCHES. I am bleeding. I am sore. I am uncomfortable. I am exhausted. My baby will not let me put her down. EVER. She sometimes cries and I have no idea why. I have sick in my hair. I need a shower. I need some sleep. How can it even be legal to look after a tiny baby on NO bloody sleep?

“I am not cut out for this. I am terrified. Quite frankly, motherhood is a bit of a dick.”

Life with a newborn was not the joyful experience I had expected. I was anxious, tired and even when my baby did actually sleep, I couldn’t sleep. I cried a lot and I felt a huge sense of panic. If this didn’t work out, there was no going back to my old life. This was IT. Forever. And so far this– was so hard.

mother-and-daughter-871294330140HDO

I AM SO DAMN HAPPY

I was ashamed. I felt guilty. I had a healthy, happy baby. Why wasn’t I skipping around the house like Mary Poppins?

I used to be organised and confident. Now I was drowning in mess and chaos and constantly doubting myself. I felt as thought I was swimming against the tide trying desperately to keep my head above water.

I hated myself for wasting this precious time with my young baby. Time I would not get back. Days passed, then weeks, then months. I wished that I could press pause. I needed time to breathe and hear my own thoughts. To get my head around this parenting gig then press play and start again. I was a mother now, I was meant to be cherishing the hell out of all of this.

The thing is, I may have been a new mother but I was also a human.

Take the baby out of the equation.

You are a normal human person who has come out of hospital after a major procedure. You are exhausted and in a lot of pain.

You are also dealing with a MAJOR change in your life. You have started a new job. A job you have NO experience in. A demanding job which requires you to work 24 hour shifts with NO breaks. Finally, despite the fact you are mainly covered in vomit and deprived of sleep – you must be happy.

You are dealing with emotions you have never experienced before. You are tired, raw and overwhelmed by love, fear, guilt and loss.

Heavy stuff! But hey, SMILE for the camera!

Would you feel like smiling?

Bringing a child into the world for the first time is massive. Nothing will ever be the same again. It is physically and emotionally draining. Feeling happy, sad, scared or anxious are all perfectly acceptable human reactions to such a huge event. We are all different. There is no normal way to feel.

If you feel a bit crap, that is ok.

If you think ‘what the hell have I done?’ that is ok.

If you cannot stop smiling with joy that is ok.

Be yourself. Be human.

em family 010It has been four years since I became a new mum and for me, those moments to cherish? The best ones came a little later. When my daughter started to smile, kiss me or reach up for a cuddle. When she said ‘love you,’ and put her tiny hand in mine for the first time.

Once I stopped worrying about how I should feel or how I should be, I found my own way. I found the joy.

I love motherhood. It’s tiring, often frustrating but I can now say in all honesty, it really is the best thing ever.

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15 thoughts on “New motherhood is a bit of a dick

  1. Thank you!!! It’s been a rough 8 weeks following a c section, an NICU admission, 2 hospital admissions, a house move and a a sick child. Whilst I’ve been well supported; I’ve sat in my make up pretending everything is fine and dandy but it’s not. The worst bit everyone wants photos or cuddles and don’t deal with the crap that is day to day life. Your honesty has made me feel a million times better and more inportantly, not alone

  2. Oh my goodness, thank god I found this blog. I was starting to feel so terrible, my son is only 4 weeks old and I haven’t known which way is up. I had a horrible time in labour which meant that i didn’t sleep for 5 days before he even arrived and I just don’t seem to be able to catch up. I know it will get better and it already has the first two weeks were really hard! I have never felt more guilty for pretty much eveything that happens, and no one truly explains what the sleep deprivation is like and the fact that you can not put them down! It has crossed my mind a few times that my old life was much easier than this and to be frank wtf have I done?! Thankfully I don’t feel like that so much anymore as he’s starting to interact with me a bit more. Thank you for your honesty, you’ve made this new mummy feel so much better xx

    • Oh it is really tough..and although babies don’t exactly get easier WE get better at babies! It’s a lot to get our heads around..I don’t think I had realised just how hard it would be. But fortunately it DOES pass and YOU will sleep again!! Xx

  3. It’s so refreshing to see mothers being honest about their experiences, not just socially acceptable sugar-coated accounts of how having a baby is like bouncing about with butterflies and unicorns while you heart sings hymns of joy. Though I read “bonding might take time” I never realized it could be so long or so hard – I only started enjoying my baby when he was around 7 months old. Before that there was crying and dark thoughts and desperation, then just dealing with every day on autopilot, not being able to accept this is the way it will be now, feeling sure I wasn’t cut out for this, or must be missing the mother gene, since everyone gaslights you into thinking it was all lovely from the beginning. It’s very lonely and hopeless to feel alone in your struggles. I try to find a balance when talking to pregnant girlfriends so as not to freak them out but also not lie to them.

  4. I’m sending your articles to all my friends who are new mums. I’m not a mum myself, so I can only half imagine what it must be like, though I kind of have an inkling out of having been a carer for disabled people for years, often doing waking night shifts. I do know what sustained sleep deprivation feels like and it’s not pretty.

    I’m sure your writing will cause some necessary giggling leading to relief that they are not the only ones thinking they’re going insane. Thanks, and good luck raising your kiddies (no sarcasm whatsoever here).

  5. This is pitch perfect, and I wish more moms, myself included, realized this when that screaming bundle of joy comes into your life. I have myself so much fully for the emotional whiplash I felt this first few months. We’re 9 months in now, I’m starting to find my way, but even still, I have my rough moments. Thank you for being so honest.

    • Thanks. I think I had no concept of how hard it would be..it didn’t help that I was the first of all my family and friends to have a baby! I have found my way now but four years and another baby later I still have rough moments!!

  6. This sounds exactly like I have been feeling but I also had c section recovery to deal with. Four months in and it is getting easier we have a semi routine and some days I even get the chance to clean the bathroom!! New mums need to be kind to themselves and just do what is necessary to get through the day rather than what they think they should be doing. Keep going fellow new mummies we are doing great 🙂

  7. Spot on! I felt such panic, utter fear that I could NEVER change this. It was crippling. I tried to be super mum on the outside to block out the terrified one on the inside and that was exhausting in itself! Fortunately my little boy seemed to understand me and I found my joy in the end, so much so I had another little boy… and then realised babies are easy, compared to toddlers 🙂
    Thank you for speaking so honestly about having to ‘get your head around’ motherhood. It’s always comforting to hear others say what you felt. Your whole blog is brilliant!!

    • Thanks so much. I was worried people might think I’m awful but I just found it so hard. However I also had a second baby 18 month later and found her much easier than the toddler!!

Feel free to leave a reply..misery loves company.