I remember getting up on baby’s second day home, full of excitement and expectation at my plans of taking her into town and showing her off for the first time. That vision of perfection we (surely I'm not alone in this?!) strive for. How hard can this new parent thing be? Well…I am sure you can guess what actually happened...!
We never made it out of the house that day. By the time I had given baby a feed and got myself dressed and looking half presentable (I'd had a few "nothing to wear because nothing fits me" dramas), packed a bag with baby essentials - you know, half the house for a one hour trip, it was time to feed baby again. Then we’re into what seems like the hundredth nappy change and fresh baby grow.
Just when I think we are ready for the great outdoors, I notice the whiff of baby sick on my shoulder from winding my little darling. Okay, I can do this – we are good to go once I have changed my top, right? I could feel myself getting more wound up and not fully aware of the pressure I was putting on myself to get out of the front door…as if the world was waiting with the expectation of perfection – wonderfully calm, happy, well presented baby and parents who absolutely knew what they are doing. Familiar? Yes, I bet it is. Kate and William achieved this with the delightful future King George on exiting the hospital but that was all about timing and hell of a lot of extra hands behind the scenes!
For the likes of you and I it’s a battle in the beginning getting baby, baby stuff and you out of the door without that dishevelled look.
So instead of going to change my top, I resorted to blubbering on the sofa, punishing myself for being “completely useless”. I was aware of thinking that my reactions seem to be distorted in relation to the situation but I just couldn’t stop the tears from rolling…there was no way I was going anywhere now as mascara streaked down my face! It would be time to feed baby again in a minute anyway!
The next day we tried again and had success and I remember feeling a bit silly when I recalled the previous days tears and desperate ramblings. The truth is, there were many times in the first few weeks of having both of my children where I would suddenly feel overcome by the need to cry. My knowledge of hormones and emotions coupled with the inevitable lack of sleep following having a baby allowed me to normalise my reactions at the end of each day. I knew I wasn’t unwell or falling into the depths of depression, however I hesitated sometimes with being completely honest with those around me for fear of being judged. Once I got over this worry, I settled more as my own expression of feeling out of my depth seemed to give permission to other parents to share stories of their own insecurities with me...reducing the feeling of isolation. If you find you are worried about your reactions post birth then please do talk to someone and share how you are...suffering in silence will not help you to move forward.
This short piece is from an upcoming book called "What 'they' don't tell you about pregnancy, birth and post birth" written by me. A humorous, easy read for women out there that are pregnant for the first, second, third time or more (because we all know each pregnancy is different).
See also "I miss my bump" - more emotions post birth gone awry!