Becoming a mum is supposed to be such a magical time in a woman’s life, and it is but it can also be a challenging and lonely time too. That’s not something that we are told though, no one really tells you all the lows and all the hard times you go through as a mum. Most of the time you will only see the good images and hear the good things. How wonderful it feels to have a life growing inside you and how natural and beautiful breastfeeding is, and the bond you and your baby will have when you give birth. No one tells you that sometimes things aren’t that easy, sometimes things don’t go as planned or how you expected them to go. And that is ok, it’s ok to feel let down, it’s ok to feel like you failed, or to feel upset and angry. That is all part of the journey. There was so much that no one told me when I had my first baby. Like how bad morning sickness can get, that it doesn’t automatically stop at 12 weeks, that it can last your whole pregnancy, or that you will vomit whilst in labour. I had no clue about sleep schedules or routines. But most of all no one told me how lonely and isolating being a mum can be. Especially when none of your friends are mums or pregnant.
Your friends are all out living their lives and having fun. Working. Partying. Drinking. And you’re at home with this tiny person you created who is solely dependent on you. They depend on you to feed them, change them, wash them, comfort them, hold them, keep them safe and warm. Everyone loves a new baby, they’re so cute and innocent and peaceful. Everyone will want to come and meet the new baby, but once that new baby hype has disappeared so do all the visitors and friends and then it’s just you and your baby and the four walls of your home. It can be a very isolating time. Most of the time for first time mums your maternal and child health nurse will set you up with a new mums group so you can meet mums with bubs the same age. Which is great for getting out and socialising meeting new friends, but what happens if the group meetings end and don’t carry on. Everyone goes on with their own lives, some go back to work others have friends having kids so choose to just spend their time with them. Some go on to have more kids which can make it even harder to catch up. When you move away and there are no mums groups for you to join.
For me with my first baby it was pretty good I had a couple of friends that had kids around the same time, and my mums group worked out we continued it for a while, even now we still keep in touch, still try to catch up when we can, although I haven’t seen them in a while. It was good to have some new friends with babies who were going through the same kind of things as me. The same changes, the same problems, it was good having people to talk to and share with and then having friends that were having babies was great we got to do baby things together and go for walks with our babes in prams, go shopping play dates all that. Then we moved away and I fell pregnant with our second baby and that was harder, it’s a lot harder trying to leave the house with two kids. Just trying to go anywhere took twice as long, no one else had had a second or was expecting a second, I found myself even more isolated. I was away from everyone with two kids, my partner was working long hours the weather was horrible so I couldn’t get out much even if I tried. I was stuck within the same four walls day after day. I ended up being diagnosed with PND which just made it even harder, I was always down I don’t think many people understood too well how I was feeling and that I was just coping.
Breastfeeding didn’t go to plan with my second baby. I had it in my head that it was going to be easier the second time around. Boy was I wrong, not only did we have latching issues we had to deal with thrush and cracked nipples and my baby basically preferred the bottle. She didn’t have to work for the milk as she did feeding on the boob. That made me feel like a failure a bad mum. I had so much guilt over not being able to feed her as I had done with my first. Along with the bad experience we had in the hospital I just felt so let down and so defeated. I felt so alone, I didn’t feel as bonded with my baby this time around it took a while to feel connected to her. I was hoping for some kind of escape, I was hoping that being in a new town I might get offered a place in a mums group or there would be some kind of group for second-time mums. No such luck. I was told by the MCHN that because she was my second baby there was no mums group. They wouldn’t even put me into one with new mums because I was not a new mum. They offered playgroups but never gave me much information on them, and I found the idea of playgroup daunting because it was a wide range of ages, but the times that it was on was also conflicting with nap times and I had my baby on a strict sleep routine this time around and didn’t want to mess that up.
Now that I have had my third baby I have come to the conclusion that motherhood is lonely but it doesn’t have to be. I have my few close friends and that is all I need. We know each other like we know ourselves they love my kids as I love theirs. And I know when I’m having a shit day they are right there with me. It’s ok to feel alone but don’t let the feelings of loneliness consume you. Find your village no matter how big or small. Make time for your friends and make them make time for you.
There are days where I won’t leave the house at all, there are days where we will get out only to go to an appointment or down the street. But getting out is getting out, it can be very daunting at times to leave your little home bubble, but it feels so good to just get out and be independent even if it’s a short trip or a quick play at a park. It’s not easy to make new mum friends, but if you don’t put yourself out there then you will never know what you’re missing. Sometimes you have to push yourself to get out there even if it just for a small walk or a trip to the park do it for your kids if not for yourself.
Don’t be afraid to call someone even if you just sit there in silence.
And it’s ok if things don’t go to plan. It’s ok if you wanted a vaginal birth but ended up having a caesarean. It’s ok if you don’t have an immediate bond with your baby, its ok if breastfeeding doesn’t work out. It is ok to feel like a shit mum or have mum guilt it’s a totally normal thing. All of us go through it at some stage of this crazy wild journey. If you are feeling alone don’t be afraid to reach out, tell someone how you feel because it’s not easy being a mum and raising these little people but it shouldn’t have to be hard and you shouldn’t have to do it alone.
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