There’s so much to know about being a parent. In fact they even have classes to teach you what to do once that baby pops out, (for some, this is literal). I went to my parenting classes with so much cockiness I may as well have spurted yellow feathers from my head (sqqqqquaaaaakkkkkk!). I would turn to my husband and say, “I’ll breastfeed”, “I think I’ll have a routine down pat within three weeks”, “I’ll use cloth nappies”… “I’ll… I’ll…” … If you’re a parent you’re probably reading this with a smirk on your face, or perhaps you just laughed at the idea of the routine, because the rest sounds pretty doable to be honest. I thought I was prepared, but as the old cliché saying goes “nothing prepares you for having a baby”, and it’s right!
Nothing prepares you for the lack of sleep, the rocking , pacing up and down the hallway, crying, wondering what the fuck you ate or did to make your baby cry in murderous decibels. Nothing prepares you for the lack of sleep… (Yeah I mentioned that twice on purpose, okay?!)
What I didn’t count on was the feelings of guilt that overwhelmed me. The feelings of sadness, angst, frustration… anxiety.
No one told me about post natal depression, and nothing prepares you for that. Maybe I heard it, and I didn’t listen, I remember some ramble in the class about 1 in 3 mothers get it. Actually if I recall, I turned to my husband and said “I’ll be right…”
Entered the world my beautiful son Luca, a head full of hair and curious eyes (that never shut), and pouty lips. “Oh wow he’s gorgeous!” The nurse exclaimed as she handed him over. He had a rough start, cord around his neck, wasn’t really crying, or breathing, so it took a while for him to be handed over. I looked at him and thought.. ‘Oh, is that what you look like…’. Calm as a cucumber (Or is it cool?)
I waited for that surge of powerful emotions that people talk about. The feelings of overwhelming love. Where was it? He was taken off me again so I could experience getting my insides sewn back together – which I’m still dirty about by the way, but that’s for another blog session.
Luca was amazing, he was alert and beautiful, at least that’s what everyone kept telling me. I knew he was beautiful, but I also knew he never liked to sleep, and being the bear I was, I was disappointed my hybernation days were over.
I remember I was at mothers group, complaining to the facilitator about what a jerk my kid was, as he never slept, with a smile on my face, and then she asked me if I wanted to have a chat about it. We went outside to another room and the tears welled in my eyes and that’s when I realized, it wasn’t just his sleep or lack there of, that was getting to me, it was the fact that my whole life had changed, and I wasn’t prepared for it.
I had this amazing son, he was amazing… but the hole in my heart made it hard to love him without it hurting. I cried that I had lost my identity as Laura and now had just becomes someone’s mother. It prompted me to question what a mother was. According to some Facebook mums, that was never leaving your baby’s side, cooking organic, cleaning your house, breastfeeding and pumping to donate milk, standing on your head while doing elimination communication – you know what it’s like. The expectations were so high and unattainable for me sometimes but I still tried to reach them. Why? Because I had to be an amazing mother, and I had to be a better mum than mine was.
When a baby enters this world, a funny thing happens to you, you start to look at the way you were parented and you compare, and if that was less than ideal, you find yourself mourning the childhood you wish you had. You then in turn hope to give your child a better one and that puts a lot of pressure on, even if you are unawares. For me, that was the root of my post natal depression.
I remember looking at my beautiful son and crying, and saying I wish I could give you better. The feelings overwhelmed me and swelled my body with negative emotions. I pushed everyone away and didn’t leave the house. I sat on the couch every damn day for 5 months just letting my son feed on my boob, because if I tried to do anything else he would cry, and then I would cry, and then I’d get mad and scream, and hate myself. Love fucking hurt. And I couldn’t deal.
The child nurse noticed it too, because they decided to give me an Edinburgh test, I scored pretty high, and they were concerned. I ended up having an enhanced nurse who I still see to this day come to my house, I tried to convince her I was okay and it was just a sleep issue and I’ll be right…the truth was, I just didn’t feel like I deserved help. With enough prodding I eventually went to a mother baby unit.
I am not going to say it cured me, because I can’t even say some days if it had, but I know I learnt a lot. I know I’m a lot stronger than what I gave myself credit for. I know this is a journey, and fast forward 21 months later (and another baby ((eeeeeek)) ), I know I have a long path to go. Every day I am learning and I want to share it.
I want you to know that if you’re reading this and you’ve felt this way, that it’s okay. Parenting is a different world and sometimes it’s a war zone. Love hurts but it’s worth the fight, and believe me, you can win.