As I write this I haven't showered in 2 days, its midday and I haven't had breakfast yet. There's a mountain of laundry to put away and there's stinking old dishes from last nights meal still in the sink. But I need to get this down....you lose yourself in motherhood.
There's so many highs and lows of being a new mum. Wow! The euphoria of seeing your baby's face for the first time, the moment you take them to your breast and see their little eyes looking up at you. You just melt away into pure love and joy. Hearing their first words, when they kiss and cuddle you and show you love, when you tickle them and they giggle. But then there's the sleep deprivation, the constant feeding – sore nipples and mastitis, intense hormonal highs and lows, low sex drive and irritabilty (to name a few!).
I am a mother who has lost herself.....again! We had a beautiful son 6 and a half years ago...after 2 years of trying. My husband, @eftnow, was told he may never be able to have children, but after a big dose of acupuncture, drinking foul smelling herbal concoctions, EFT (tapping) and climbing a mountain - we conceived. We were so happy...this was what we had been wanting for so long.
After a 32 hour labour, our son was born at home. Due to complications after the birth we were rushed to hospital where we stayed for 3 long days and nights. I found it a real struggle. I had lost a lot of blood, was totally broken from a painful and intense birth and my son wasn't feeding properly. He began losing a lot of weight...my midwife couldn't spend the time I needed supporting me to get the feeding right, I felt so alone. I would spend my nights crying through the pain as I fed my son. He was such a chubby newborn and now he was shrinking before my eyes...I felt a failure as every day his weight plummeted.
We discovered the issue was with a tongue-tie which we rectified at hospital and after a couple of months we had the feeding down to a fine art...but boy what a journey. I have never felt so low in all my life. I had spent 9 months so excited about meeting my little boy that when it finally came I was hit with things I felt totally unprepared for.
I felt like I was losing myself....I became very withdrawn from friends. This was my problem and I didn't want to bother them with it. I was crying all day and all night. It took 4 months for me to be able to venture out into the wide world, confident with feeding in front of strangers without me grimacing in agony, confident that he had put on a good amount of weight and confident to step out as a new mum.
Tired and helpless but totally in love
What would I say to people? I would go to baby groups and be frozen with fear of talking to the other mums. I became the mum who would just sit with her child. I felt really lonely. I hid behind my baby smiling inanely at people, not being able to strike up a conversation. My old group of friends were still partying and having fun, I felt like I had nothing in common with them any more. I made my excuses and got completely and utterly wrapped up in my baby. All I knew was him.
Before getting pregnant I LOVED being social, I was confident and would make friends so easily. Why was it so difficult now? I had completely changed and it was almost like I had to start from scratch.
Festival queen -
Little by little things got easier and now my little baby boy is 6 and we have a new addition to the family, a 7 month old baby girl.
After she was born I lacked this confidence again. How could I let this happen, after the first time? Have I not learnt from previous experience? We “should” be empowered after birth and want to express and share our inner most feelings and issues.
My 2nd labour was amazing, almost pain free, at home, quick and perfect in every way. But again with the feeding, we had a struggle. She was losing weight, I was devastated. I retreated back into myself, staying at home, in my room – alone with my thoughts again. When I tried to go to groups I felt stifled and alone still, unable to ask for help or share my story. It was like history repeating itself.
1 week old – tired mama – mastitis and feeding problems again
Smiling mama but baby still losing weight
I started meeting with a friend who had a baby a couple of months before me....she made a real effort to see me every other day. She could see I needed a nudge and would encourage me to leave the house and go for walks together. We would message each other through the night, asking random questions and just be there for each other. Then the two of us started meeting regularly with other mums and babies in the area and now we have a beautiful mama tribe!
It is through meeting with them every week that I have started to be able feel a new, improved version of myself. It's a work in progress, but I'm well on the way.
They don't care if I turn up smelly covered in baby sick and moaning about how many hours I slept last night. They don't care if I can't get my words out and feel overwhelmed with it all. We celebrate each other and are there to guide each other through those dark times and enjoy and relish in the good times. And we eat lots of cake!!
I have found my mama tribe. I feel so blessed to have them in my life. And it's through talking to them that I find that they have gone through similar struggles too. We raise each other up when it's needed most and for that I am so grateful.
So I would say to my younger self with the newborn baby boy....make the effort to talk to a new mum, she's probably feeling exactly the same as you. You will have more in common with her than you think. Be brave and strong and step outside your comfort zone and you will find your tribe – even if it's a tribe of 2, it's a start!
I would love to chat with any mamas out there, no topic too big or small. Let's support and share the love.
This article is dedicated to Jenny B, thanks for being a shining light x