It has been almost 10 months since I last wrote and what a rollercoaster 10 months it has been! I have been debating about writing a new blog for a while because some of what I am going to say may be controversial, but what the hell, I’m going to say it anyway!
This has been my last week of maternity leave and it has been a week of mixed emotions. The reality that I’ll be at work on Monday and leaving my baby has set in along with the realisation that I won’t be doing this again.
Maternity leave certainly has not been what I expected it to be- I imagined a much more fairy tale version than what I got! I wonder how many other new mums find that the reality of motherhood is different to what they expected? My husband and I aren’t naïve, we knew there would be lack of sleep, our relationship would be challenged and our lives would never be the same again! However, it was the monotony of the daily routine and the sense of isolation and hopelessness I wasn’t prepared for.
Postnatal depression creeps in almost unnoticed at first and you tell yourself to get a grip and get on with the job of looking after this precious little person. But gradually, you feel yourself sinking, each day is a struggle and you wonder if you will ever get out of the never ending cycle of cleaning nappies, sterilising bottles and nursing your new-born, all while walking around like a zombie on minimal sleep. I was lucky in the fact that I had family to call upon to help me but then comes the feeling of being a failure- you’re on maternity leave and you have one job of looking after your beautiful baby girl and you can’t do it. From speaking to other women, I realise that I am not alone in how I felt and yet it is something we don’t really talk about. On social media, we portray our lives with our children as non stop fun! Maybe we feel that it is socially unacceptable to post a status about how life really can be?
Shit day! My baby screamed most of the day! I’m exhausted and I need a shower! Please can someone take over so that I can go to the pub or to bed or anywhere that there isn’t a screaming child!!
I wonder how the above potential quote would be received? With sympathy and offers or help or with people being somewhat judgemental that a new mum is not coping with her child and moaning about it on Facebook? I’m sure most of my friends and family would offer to help but it still leaves the question of why we put pressure on ourselves to be the ideal mother and why issues about postnatal depression are not discussed without feeling some level of shame.
To avoid any misunderstanding, I adore Emily- she is my miracle baby I thought I would never have and my love for her is obviously unconditional. That doesn’t change the fact that there were times during the past 10 months that I wanted to go back to work early because of the overwhelming feeling of being a failure and not coping. It also doesn’t change the paranoid feeling that I thought she was being a bit of an arsehole on purpose! Yes I know she is just a baby but doesn’t she know that I have had four hours sleep and I’m slowly going insane?!
This blog is not me being self-indulgent and wanting sympathy, I got the help I needed and now I fully appreciate how amazing it is to be a mummy 🙂 This is me trying to say to other mums and potential mums, let’s be a little bit more honest about what it’s like to be a mother and if you are struggling, please get help.
Like I said earlier, I’ve being feeling pangs of guilt about going back to work but why? I’m pretty sure my husband didn’t feel guilty and he’s right because I want Emily to see that mummy works too- that’s life. So although there were days that I thought I was going mad(!) I feel like I’ve done a good job- Emily is happy and healthy and I know I did (and continue to do) my best. At the end of the day I suppose that’s what we all do even if sometimes you end your day collapsed in a chair clutching a glass of gin and what feels like the last of your sanity! 😉