Since having Freddie almost 6 months ago, I have felt very much like I’ve been on a particularly relentless emotional rollercoaster. Never before have I experienced such extremes, overwhelming happiness and then feelings of hopelessness and the worry, my god the worry. When the midwife first put Freddie on my chest, I remember tears streaming down my face and being unable to express anything other than ‘Is this my baby? This is my baby?’ I have never ever felt happiness and pride like I did that day. But almost as soon as he arrived the worry set in. Was he comfortable? Was he happy? What did he need? Was he in pain? Could I make him happy? Why was he crying? Why had he slept so long? Did I need to wake him?
Suddenly being responsible for this tiny, perfect little baby was such a huge responsibility and I worried (and still do!) that I wasn’t up to the job, that I wasn’t enough. In the first few weeks after giving birth my hormones were all over the place. I felt like I was completely out of control and that my body was behaving in a way that I didn’t understand. Evenings were the worst time for me; I used to start crying uncontrollably for seemingly no reason. It became a bit of a running joke amongst the family not to visit between five and seven in the evening! I remember my mum telling me I just needed to get to day seven, then day ten, then two weeks and then a month and I would feel better. She was right of course, by day ten the crying had lessened and by two weeks I no longer had those odd emotional evenings. Throughout those weeks I shared my experiences on social media, hoping that my honest account of being a new mum would help others wondering if the way they were feeling was normal. People were overwhelmingly supportive; sadly unlike an extended family member who suggested I wasn’t enjoying my baby and I must have Post Natal Depression… What a way to make a new mum feel she wasn’t normal for experiencing these emotions! After a couple of weeks the ‘Baby Blues’ went away as my hormones and my body started to settle down.
However when my husband went back to work, the feelings of anxiousness and worry remained. There were many days during the first three months where Freddie and I were both in tears. Part of that was dealing with Freddie’s silent reflux which caused him to have screaming fits quite a lot of the time, but really it was just a combination of wondering what the hell I was doing and trying to work out how to do simple things (like get dressed!) with a baby who wouldn’t be put down. I want to emphasise the importance of having a good support network during those early months. Through talking with other new Mama’s, I quickly realised the way I was feeling was very normal. That it was a huge adjustment and that others felt exactly the same. It was such a relief when I realised I wasn’t alone. My baby was still so tiny and we were still getting to know each other, no wonder I felt lost some days. I tried to break the day down into smaller chunks so that it seemed much more manageable and I accepted help whenever it was offered, thank goodness for my sisters who helped me more than they will ever know. I stopped trying to do baby classes that Freddie was too young to really benefit from and putting unnecessary pressure on myself to do too much. In my head I had decided that everything would magically improve at three months, it would all be much easier then…
It came as a shock then, that at four and five months it didn’t suddenly get a lot easier like I had hoped it would. Freddie’s silent reflux still wasn’t controlled and I felt the difference between him and other babies became much more obvious. I felt conscious that he cried more, was fussier and seemed quicker to become very upset. I should add that Freddie was and is one of the most smiley babies I know and so it broke my heart to see him crying and in pain. As his personality began to emerge I could tell he was a happy, cheeky baby boy but that side of him struggled to appear when he was in pain. A few weeks ago, I was with my Mum (thank god for Mums) and I was crying. I felt like I should be finding it all easier now and should be out and about more. She said ‘Amy, you’ve had five months of broken sleep. You have had no time to yourself. You are shattered. You aren’t depressed you’re normal. Anyone else would be feeling the same way’. It was then that I realised she was right. In such a short period of time, my life has changed beyond recognition. Freddie is the center of my world. Nothing else and nobody else is more important. His needs come before mine every time, taking care of him is a full time job and it can be bloody hard. He is beautiful and funny and without question, the best thing that ever happened to me but motherhood has been the most challenging thing I have ever done and that’s okay.
It’s okay to find it difficult, to worry that you’re not good enough, to have days that end in tears, to feel frustrated, to feel lost. As long as you have good days too, days where you feel joy and enjoy being a Mama. Most importantly, it’s important to be honest. To share how you feel and to not feel afraid of what other people might think. For all of the flaws of social media, it has been such a help to me since becoming Freddie’s Mama. And I really hope that this post helps just one new mother to know that feeling this way is normal, that it shows that you care and that you are doing the best that you can. Remember that.