On the 9th Aug 2017, my son entered this world with a bang. Giving birth for me did not feel like the fairy tale everyone talks about. It hit me like a ton of bricks.
No one told me how hard it was actually going to be to take care of this new little human that was handed to me. To the world, I was just expected to know what to do. Breastfeeding, burping, bathing, and sleeping were all supposed to come naturally.
There is this expectation that women are supposed to have this motherly instinct that kicks in straight after giving birth. For me, in reality, everything I thought I knew about motherhood turned out to be very different. This little person who is solely dependent on me turned my whole world upside down.
All moms face different challenges every day. Sleep deprivation is a new level of being tired. It is normal to feel guilty, frustrated, impatient, and not have your sh*t together, isn’t it…?
Ten months into my journey of motherhood, I found myself having some disturbing thoughts. There were nights where I would leave my baby boy crying in his cot, close my bedroom door, and ignore him. There were days that I wished I could disappear for a month by myself to catch a break. PJ days went from 1 day to sometimes 4 or 5 days in a row. I was on autopilot, doing just enough to get through each day, and during this time, I did not even feel a bond with my little human.
After speaking to my husband and a friend, I decided I needed to seek professional help.
Upon seeking help and facing all the facts, I was told that I had been suffering from postpartum depression. This was extremely difficult for me to accept as I am generally a very positive person and consider myself a go-getter. Being a mom has proven to be the hardest journey I have yet to go on.
What I find so sad, is that so many women suffer in silence out of fear of being judged, and this IS NOT OKAY!
Since having a baby, I wish more women could be open and honest about becoming a mom. Babies are hard work; they cry, have sleepless nights (and days), get cramps. There are things that you can do to ease their pain, but keep in mind that sometimes there is nothing you can do to take it away completely. For me, the first four months were the HARDEST. Being a mommy is a rollercoaster ride where the adventure never stops. Us moms must learn to use our resources to make motherhood easier to cope with.
When I was diagnosed, I became a big believer in speaking up. If you start to have any unusual thoughts or feelings. Just speak up about what you are going through. Any new journey is a challenge, especially one where you are expected to be this perfect role model in a very imperfect reality.
The best advice I can give to any new mom:
- Find a clinic Sister that you can rely on and trust.
Sister Marion Wing from the Baby Clinic in Bedfordview helped me get through many tough days with my little guy. I could message her any time of the day and night, and she would respond.
- Use your village and surround yourself with good friends.
Remember that your Husband/partner is also going through a change, so talk to him, tell him how you feel. Involve him and let him help where he can.
- Talk about how hard this new relationship is with your tiny human who is so dependent on you.
Talk to your friends who have had babies and find friends on mommy groups that can relate to what you are going through. You are not alone, and it is okay NOT to be okay.
After seeking help, I was put on mild medication and went to therapy sessions. Talking about what I was going through more and more helped me accept the fact that my child is with me for life, and I cannot control everything. I slowly started getting into a much better and happier space. I would say that this process took me a good 6 months before I felt an actual change.
Life with my family is so different now. I am more present with my little guy, and I actually want to spend time with him. We have slowly started to build a bond and form a relationship.
I am still on medication and use coping mechanisms to ensure I carry on being the best mom that I can be for him. Yes, there are still VERY HARD and trying days, but I can now cope better, Baby Steps at a time. Mamahood is not for sissies. We are tough cookies.
A saying that I fall back on often is that “you don’t know how strong you are until strong is your only choice.”
With love & motherly strength,
Super-mom and wife (because superheroes do exist); Female powerhouse; Solution Seeker; OCD always; Client-centric; Investor in People; South African dance floor champion; Present…trying to be.