So I’m going to admit something a little bit taboo here, I absolutely hated being pregnant and I really did not enjoy enjoy or cherish the newborn days. Now don’t get me wrong I know how lucky I was to conceive my girls naturally and to be able to carry them, which not every woman was made to do and I am blessed to have had that BUT that doesn’t mean I enjoyed the process.
It’s funny, since I was a child all I ever wanted was to be a mum, to carry babies and be that super mum but when I fell pregnant with Maisie I had pretty horrendous morning sickness from early on until 20 something weeks, I found the movements weird, everything hurt, all these people kept touching my belly and I just wanted to punch them in the face.
When I was pregnant with Maisie I had all these plans, I was going to have a natural water-birth with her and it would be a calm entry into the world, I would breastfeed for at least the first 5 months, I would babywear and there would be no TV, and we would be the picture of happiness and serenity because after all everyone had told me I was made to be a mum. I did get my water-birth but it wasn’t serene, my mindful birthing could go and shove itself and I wished I’d gone to the hospital to have all the drugs. After Maisie was born there were issues with me so we had to be transferred to the hospital, she didn’t get to breastfeed until 4 hours after she was born, there was no rush of love when she came out just relief it was over. We were kept in hospital overnight and it hated it, I was all alone, sore and with this baby that kept being sick and didn’t want to feed. Breastfeeding hurt like Satan’s child himself was chewing my nips off with his fiery demon teeth, my husband nicknames Maisie the piranha. When she was a week old I developed Mastitis, I was miserable, I hated breastfeeding, nothing was how I pictured it, I wasn’t a natural mum, despite all I’d read and been told shit was suddenly very real. On our 10 day check up I was still suffering Mastitis by now Maisie was on formula and I felt so awful. I was sent up to the hospital as my heart rate was a little fast. In the time I took from then to the hospital I developed a fever, I was then admitted without Maisie and put on IV fluids and a few different antibiotics, the infection had tracked to both breasts and I had Sepsis, I was put on a high dependency unit and then my oxygen levels started to dip and I was put on oxygen. Luckily by the next day I started responding to the antibiotics but I had to spend several days in hospital without my new baby, feeling like a failure. When I came out I felt like I’d missed so much and my hubby should be the one off with her, we hadn’t bonded, I loved that little girl so much but I couldn’t be her mum, I had failed her so much.
Post natal depression hit me like train, the guilt that I couldn’t do this, I wasn’t a natural mum, Maisie hated the sling I’d bought for baby wearing, I’d failed at breastfeeding, she couldn’t stop vomiting and crying and I didn’t want her to grow up and end up like me, she deserved a better mum. That was my lowest point. I was lucky that my John was an absolute rock the whole time (and continues to be to this day). Over time with the help of reflux milk, and the general growing out of the newborn phase I realised actually I loved this girl more than anything and I couldn’t be away from her. So much so by the time she was 8 months old I was ready to do it all again, this time would be different, I wouldn’t spend endless weeks guilting myself if breastfeeding didn’t work or babywearing. I would embrace just being me and the best mum I could be.
My pregnancy with Luna was even worse as I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum otherwise known as HG (but I’ll save that for another blog post) and I had Pelvic Girdle Pain from early on often needing crutches and because of all the complications I developed pre-natal depression. Again I had Luna naturally in the water at my local maternity unit rather than the hospital. This time it was slightly more calm although I swear her labour hurt more than Maisie’s, this time we didn’t need to be transferred, Luna was placed on my chest immediately and we fed straight away. The moment she came out despite how rough the pregnancy had been and the fact I hadn’t bonded with her, I got the rush of love this time. Except it was tinged with guilt that I didn’t get that with Maisie, did that make me an awful mum? I know now that of course it doesn’t it’s just how it goes.
Breastfeeding Luna while having a 16 month old toddler was hard, and I’ll be honest I threw in the towel at 2 weeks, I felt guilty, of course I did, we all know breast is best, but my sanity was more important and seeing how clever my little smartass toddler is, I know I don’t need to feel too guilty on the formula thing. Again Luna wasn’t one for babywearing, again she had reflux, this time though I was prepared, I knew what to do. The first 7-8 weeks were hard, I knew what the newborn days entailed, although we also moved from Oxfordshire to Kent when Luna was 4 weeks old to a house we hadn’t even viewed which added to the stress levels. However mum guilt has still gotten to me, I still worry about my girls ending up having the mental issues I’ve endured through the years, I worry that Maisie didn’t have enough time with just me, I worry that Luna very much suffers second child syndrome despite my promise to myself that I would minimise that. Some days we probably watch a little bit too much cbeebies, other days we are out on long walks, crafting and being that picture perfect mum I envisaged.
Mum guilt wakes me in the night (along with the kids and my husband’s snoring) with things I should be doing more of or less of. Then there are these moments when Luna starts to cry and Maisie goes to comfort her, or Maisie randomly kisses me or tells me she loves me and I know that despite not being that mum I envisaged in my mind I’m doing OK (most of the time).
The point of this post is that sometimes our journey of motherhood doesn’t lead us to be the mums we thought we would be and that’s OK, I learnt the hard way that spending hours, days, weeks, months feeling guilty over my “failings” doesn’t actually achieve anything, it’s OK to forgive yourself and embrace the mum you are, not that supermum you envisaged.