(*Although I have written this from a mothers understanding, fathers often share in these thoughts and are encouraged to feel just as validated in this blog)
I am seeing so many sweet newborn posts on social media lately (all the spring babies arriving), all laden with the loved up hashtags; #heartfull #blessed #complete #minime and so on and they are all beautiful and not to be condescended in any way. So many do feel all those things in the fresh newborn hours and we have every right to, we worked hard and the hormones are viben’.
As a birth and post partum doula and a real life mum of four I also know there are some more hashtags that can come either straight away or not long after that most people feel less obliged to share. I would like to talk about the moments that come just after that newborn buzz which feel a little more like #whatthe #notwhatIwasexpecting #thisishard #caniputitback #ifeeldifferent #ilovethembutidontknowifilikethem #whatdoido #help
It’s OKAY not to feel okay all of the time. It’s okay to need a little time to get to know your new human, new role and new self.
When I had my first son, I felt such an immediate gush of love for him but I also felt an immediate pressure to know what he needed, wanted and how to fulfill those things. I remember my first outing feeling so overwhelmed that I wouldn’t know what to say if people asked questions about him. Luckily I have a wonderful supportive husband and parents who told me I don’t need to know a thing and loved me through those anxious moments until I found my feet.
When I had my second son, I felt more confident with how to hold and feed and bath and dress him but I didn’t feel an immediate heart connection with him and I felt a sense of loss and shame. I didn’t want to admit I wasn’t oozing closeness and adoration and I was sad at the lack of intensity in emotional connection for him. I distinctly remember laying in my hospital bed on my side and staring at him through his plastic hospital bassinet and longing to feel something more than I did. He looked and felt like a stranger to me. I felt incredibly alone with him in the room. I worried what this meant about me as a mother but my worry was wasted, because over the coming days, those feelings I longed for appeared and nestled deep in my heart and I got to know my new baby in a different way to my first and it was OK.
My smoochy hashtags (had they existed when he was born) would have either been forged or missing and because of that I am honestly glad social media was not yet a part of my world.
My third son and my fourth baby, our girl came with new and original feelings, I had different high and lows with each. My love for all of them equal, but different and guess what…thats ok!
So what do you do if you are struggling with the reality of your set of hashtags?
Be honest. To whom ever you feel most comfortable and most definitely with yourself. Don’t expect others to know what to do with your feelings any more than you do, but saying it allowed can ease the burden of their weight. Maybe it will be short lived, maybe it will take more time than you hoped for, maybe it will be something you need professional help with and every one of those scenarios is OKAY! It won’t feel okay of course, but it is. There is no shame to you as a mother for needing time to get to know and love your baby, your new being that has taken over your world. Be kind to your mind.
I am proud of the mamas I know that have sought or are seeking support and help with their motherhood realities. These mamas are courageous and strong. It takes love and willingness to accept support and help in its many forms and it never made a woman less of a mother or a mother less of a woman.
A word to those who have never experienced such things and who don’t understand; be kind.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to raise a mother. Allow the village to help you, allow the mother to absorb the help.
As a Postpartum Doula I also have a little village which I can share with you to support you through these less than magical moments. You are welcome to contact me anytime after you have had your baby and we can set up a network that gives you all the tlc you need and deserve.
If you are needing a little more than love from family and friends, below is a list of local ( Bellarine, Geelong and Surfcoast )and national (Australian) professionals who are trained and working specifically to support those with post partum needs.
Dr Adrienne Brown (Geelong) – Centre for Perinatal Psychology
Suzanne Higgins (Geelong)- Credentialed Mental Health Nurse 0491 005 804