First of all, this post is about and for all those new parents who have struggled and/or who are still struggling. This is not for those perfect parents with perfect babies, whose mental health is still very much intact.
These perfect parents who had perfect pregnancy, babies who slept through since popping out into the world, breast fed from the get go, ate solid food since four months, walked perfectly since six months, said their first word by seven months, etc etc …
I am not one of these parents. I know there are a lot of parents who are similar to me. It’s just not a lot of parents want to admit they are struggling for fear of maybe being judged by other parents as failures. Well, if you are going through similar as I have, you are not alone.
There was no doubt in my mind at all. I knew parenthood isn’t easy. Well, not easy for some, maybe easy for others.
I struggled. I am still struggling.
It was a difficult pregnancy and I had a hard time during the whole process. I hated the way the hospital staff treated me. I was and am angry that I put so much trust in the hospital. I should’ve fought tooth and nail to get into private care.
A string of events before, during and after my pregnancy resulted in my mental health really taking a beating.
My child still isn’t sleeping through and I have accepted this is the way he is. I don’t do cry it out. It just isn’t something I agree with. Also we live in an apartment. My lil boy struggled with night time sleep. Yes, we have the same routine every night. Bath, story time, cuddles etc etc. He is getting a lot better. I haven’t really slept proper in a very long time. I sometime stay awake for fear of sleeping through his cries due to me being so exhausted. It is a vicious circle. I became more and more exhausted. I allowed myself to nap with him during the day once I dropped my pumping sessions. For a while my waking minutes were all dedicated to pumping, washing equipment, washing bottles. Before I know it, he’s awake and is clinging to me for dear life. He has always wanted to be carried or cuddled a lot. He still does. If I stand my ground and won’t carry him, he will just play his toys around my feet. He just needs to be near me all the time. Occasionally he wakes up crying in the middle of the night and reaches for me. For me, not his dad. When he was a newborn and infant, he preferred his dad. Now he’s older, he comes to me for comfort. However, he has huge meltdowns every morning when he sees his dad goes to work.
I love my lil boy with everything that I have. For a very long time though, I felt perhaps he should have someone else as his mother as I didn’t feel I was good enough. I felt I just wasn’t doing anything right. I felt like I failed him. I failed him by not being able to birth naturally. All the things I was told and read about how babies not born naturally are more susceptible to all sorts of diseases and behavioural problems in the future. I had the biggest guilt. I kept asking myself what have I done? Why did my body fail me. All these women who say shit like ”Oh my body will do what it is meant to do when the time comes.” Well, my body didn’t do what it was meant to do. I am reminded of this daily. Yes, every single time I go to the bathroom. I have this ginormous scar to remind me what a failure I am and how my body failed me. My failure means untold consequences for my child.
The next failure is breastfeeding. All that was hammered into our head during our pregnancy is that breast is best and it is natural. It is natural and all women (new mothers) should be able to do it. Well, I couldn’t really. I couldn’t do something that is natural and should come naturally to all new mothers. Then you get the breastfeeding nazis make you feel even a bigger failure that you are.
I ended up pumping. I pumped whenever I could. I was determined to feed my child breastmilk even though I couldn’t really breastfeed him. But guess what? I still get people saying there was no point in feeding my child expressed milk as he wasn’t feeding directly all the time. Oh you know, breastfed babies have breastmilk designed especially for them. As my baby wasn’t technically breastfed, there wasn’t any point in me feeding him breastmilk. One of these people was my Women’s Health Physiotherapist. She was this young physiotherapist specialising women’s health. This young woman out of uni for a couple of years, never had children but told me a few things that made me wanted to slap her. My GP recommended to see her to deal with postnatal issues (which I will write about later). However this woman felt the need to tell me what a woman’s body naturally can do and that I really shouldn’t have bothered pumping milk past six months as there really isn’t any benefits for the baby if not breastfed directly.
My relationship with my partner really suffered. We didn’t have this glow of happiness you hear about that new parents have. We were severely sleep deprived. We fought. I felt neglected. We had a lot of difficulties connecting. Sex was extremely painful. Hence why I had to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. It was embarrassing. Another failure I had to deal with. You want to know what the pain felt like? It was like being scraped on the inside by a cheese grater. Or a spiked rod. Tearing and grating at my insides.
We decided that I would stay at home to look after our child as childcare is extremely expensive and we don’t really have any family to help out. So this means we have only one income. We are happy with our decision. But the subject of why I am staying at home rather than going out to earn money often comes up in conversations with friends/acquaintances/strangers. The current society where women should have it all, you know as a working mother with a fulfilling career? I get reminded often that other mothers are out there working while I am just a stay at home mother. Yes, just a stay at home mother who is trying to take care of her child rather than out working and putting her child in childcare.
So to all you other struggling new/first time parents out there, yes being a parent is hard. It is hard enough without having to deal with all these other people judging us.
To all you parents who had difficult pregnancy, who couldn’t birth naturally, who had a hard time with those horrible uncaring midwives, who couldn’t breastfeed, who are staying at home trying your best to look after your babies, who are struggling alone … you are not alone. Ignore all these BS all these perfect parents are telling you. Not all babies sleep through the night, not all of us can breastfeed, not all of us have to be supermoms having a career and have babies in childcare. We are trying the best we can to be the best parents we can. Don’t let these people make you feel you are not doing a great job.
You are doing a great job. Because you love your babies with everything that you have.