The Baby Blues
My son had been born three days earlier. I'd spent those three days in a haze of gloriousness. The afterbirth buzz. I spent all day staring at my sleeping baby boy. Tears tingled in my eyes as I gazed down on his tufty bits of hair that stuck out sporadically over his soft head. He smelt... well... in truth he smelt like urine and sweat, but to me he smelt like the sweetest species of flower.
I remember looking at myself in the mirror. It wasn't the extra weight that made me feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. It wasnt the black bags that I had no time or desire to attempt to cover with make up. It wasn't even the fact that my boobs were so engorged from my milk coming in causing agony in my nipples that brought a different type of tear to my eye. A sad tear. Not the same sort of tears that I had experienced in the days prior to this. The first tear came. And then the second, and then a wild gush of emotion came out of me that I did not want to allow to happen. I was a mum. I had to be strong. But I felt so very out of control. Not just of my emotions, but of my life. I HAD NO CLUE WHAT I WAS DOING! Everyone had their opinions and their views, all of which I refused to take on board. He was MY baby, I should know what to do. But I didn't. I kept waiting for my mothers intuition to kick in. But it didn't. Every time I handled him, I treated him like an explosive; one wrong move could ruin him and it would be all my fault! I started to wonder if I was ready for this responsibility or if in fact, I had bitten off more than I could chew.
The tears continued. I had had a C-section and seemed to really struggle with the recovery. The scar became infected among other complications. The four walls of my home became my prison. I was too scared to leave the house. What if the other mums who knew exactly what they were doing judged me??? I had only one other mum friend who I texted with all the time. We had babies at a similar time. We made a pact to always be brutally honest about EVERYTHING. It turned out that she had no bloody idea what she was doing either! It wasn't just me?! How come everyone else around us seemed to have it so sussed out??? We decided that WE were the normal ones for experiencing this anxiety and extreme emotion. When I learnt that I was not alone, I felt completely liberated.
I was still too anxious to leave the house with my baby, but I started to go out on little walks by myself. I was breastfeeding, but I'd sneak out of bed at 5:30 am leaving my son and husband, and just walk. Little by little I started walking further. Then the walk turned into a run. I always felt so free when I was running. My head felt clear. I was (and am still not) a natural runner. But I loved how it made me feel. As I started to gain confidence I joined a small fitness class where I met a few other mums who convinced me to go along to a toddler group. We were now about 10 months down the line. I was still very anxious about leaving the house with my son and rarely went anywhere, apart from to see my mum or my friend who was in same boat as me. But I went along. And now I am closer than ever with the mums that I met there. In fact one of the mums has just asked me to be god child to her second born.
I'm now one more child up and this time round I've learnt to just wing it like everyone else. I've learnt that motherhood is bloody hard. And I've learnt that the majority of women feel the same way I did but in varying degrees. Taking baby steps to leave the house is key. If you do not feel confident enough to leave with your child initially then get out and try and do something for you to gain your own confidence back. Once you get that back, the rest will fall into place gradually. Getting moving is such an important part of mental health. If you're back at work straight after giving birth then try to find time, even if only five minutes to go for a walk. If you're a stay at home mum then take the children with you on a walk. In a pram or in the sling. Raising a child takes a village. Whether thats your family, friends or groups on social media. We are lucky in this day and age that we can talk to people all over the world and can learn that other people have experienced things that we have experienced without actually meeting face to face. Equally, social media can be destructive whilst you look at peoples perfect lives and wonder why the hell your own life isn't going the same way?! Remember, people will (for the most part) only post the positive stuff on their social media. Back when I was in my slump, I was posting pictures of my gorgeous baby with a big smile on my face and a million filters on to hide the bags. But behind the scenes was a very different story.
How did you overcome baby blues? Are you still going through it and unsure where to turn? If you want to talk to someone or need a friend, please contact me. I want to help you on your journey. We can do this together!