The Birth Of A Mother
I thought my soul was dying a very slow painful death, but my soul will live on long after my body dies. It was my spirit dying, my sense of self, my individuality. I didn’t need to be a person, I just needed to be a mother and ensure all the needs of my babies were met. They needed to be fed, burped, changed, bathed, cuddled, interacted with and kept safe.
Society doesn’t prepare new mothers for motherhood. Pick up any magazine with a spread of a celebrity who has just had a baby and in the place of one very sleep deprived and stressed out mother and maybe even a father, a messy house, feeding paraphernalia, dirty washing and dummies strewn across the house.
What you find in its place is a beautiful woman who has been professionally styled, hair and makeup done professionally, beautifully tidy house and two adults who just absolutely love being parents and telling you how magical each day has been, and they are just more in love than ever.
No mention of sleepless nights. No cracked and bleeding nipples. The screaming fights you seem to keep having. The very heavy period you are having and many other gory things that can and do happen after childbirth. That is not what it is like at all, but how would you know this until you find yourself in this situation and feel like a complete and utter failure because you are not overcome with joy with your new role in life.
Becoming A Mother
It was when I became a mother, I discovered I am a neurotic control freak and my anxiety levels shared a very close negative correlation with sleep. The less sleep I got, the higher the anxiety levels. It was like being so frightened and stressed whilst being so focused that I had to be scoring 100% in my mothering skills all the time. Anything less would be letting my children down.
How would they turn out in later life if I didn’t tend to them the minute they cried? How could they learn to trust me? The thoughts that go through the post-natal mind, they might seem silly to some but to me, these were very real fears and I worried about them constantly. It was not their burden to carry and I would never want it to be, ever. It was my responsibility as the adult to act accordingly in the situation. Therefore, I internalise the struggle. I felt so ripped off for my kids that they had landed such a crap mum.
Not Ready For Death
Given all the above, I still wasn’t prepared for the death of myself though. I don’t think anything can prepare you for that. I am now a mother and have people dependant on me and the emotional ties and guilt would see me always putting them first, that’s just the way it is regardless of how unwell you are or how tired. You don’t matter anymore, and nobody cares!
Looking back, I think my Post Natal Depression started quite early. Once day five post birth arrived, I was never the same. I had been warned about the ‘baby blues’ but this was so much more. The baby blues is just awful. I remember I would sit and sob for absolutely no reason other than the heaviest sadness weighing me down. I’m sure that was the hormonal surges, milk coming in and other changes that occur, but it was more than that for me.
It lasted longer than two weeks and my own thoughts would torment me constantly. I learned so much about myself when I became a mother. Firstly, I had a huge problem with anxiety. Prior to having children, I just thought it was a personality trait and I was one of those very wound up people. It was usual for me to be in a heightened state of arousal and I never really thought too much about it.
Luckily, I had Health Insurance and booked myself and the babies into a ‘sleep school’ which also doubled as a very ‘soft’ Psych ward for middle-class women. I was diagnosed with PND within hours of arriving at the facility and I think everyone just felt so sorry for me because I was so scared, tired and I was still recovering from the birth.
I was so incredibly blessed to have my mum staying at home with me and getting up to do every feed with me, she had no idea what was going on in my head because I was too ashamed to tell anyone. Especially my mum, who I thought was the best mum in the world, I didn’t want her thinking that I was the horrible mother that I had convinced myself I was. I wanted her to be proud of me.
During the first year of the twin’s life, we did four stays in that Mother Baby Unit. I felt so secure there, surrounded by lovely nurses who knew all the answers to everything that I seemed to have no idea about. I got along with everyone on each visit because I always did exactly as I was told to do, that was the level of trust I had in these nurses.
What got me through my first year of motherhood was the network of imperfect mums I met. The perfect mums with only one baby who wanted to breastfeed until their kids were 16 didn’t appeal to me. Also, the vegetarian/vegan mums who would never under any circumstances give their babies dairy-based formula (not that there is anything wrong with this, however, I quite often find these people very smug!) were also not candidates for friendship.
I was all over the other ‘normal’ mums who had experiences similar to mine and had struggled with motherhood. We could understand and empathise with each other and build a real camaraderie. These women got me through my first year, along with my mum and my family. They made me believe that I was a good mum, an excellent one in fact because I could see my own shortcomings and I was very eager to seek help.
With the support of my amazing family, some imperfect mummies who in my eyes couldn’t be any more perfect (especially three very special ladies) we made it through the first year of the twin’s life with no (obvious) damage!
I'm Michelle, mum to two sets of twins and sometimes a little cray cray. Join me on my parenting experiences whilst I try my very hardest to bring up my four kids well and stay sane at the same time.
If you are a mother yourself, hopefully you will be able to relate and identify with some of the struggles that I and many other women face, as mothers.
Thanks for reading.
Much Love xx
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