The first few weeks of motherhood are just a blur when I look back. A constant cycle of feeding, nappy changes, bathing, changing, trying to get some sleep where I could. I can’t access any specific memories during that time. I remember feeling out of control, out of my depth and just taking things day by day. After all, I was still healing too. The time came for my partner to return to work and I guess it’s from there that the memories flow from. He worked long hours and I was often at home alone at night with our girl.
I remember it being quite lonely. Not being able to drive for those first 6 weeks was a real isolator. I was alone in a brand new home with a brand new baby to boot and no instruction manual to get me through. Thank goodness for the mid-wives popping in every couple of days for their checks and for my mum coming to take me to the shops when I needed it. It was comforting to have people around me, but I didn’t know how to reach out and ask for help. I thought if I did, I would be seen as a failure, as the chick that couldn’t get this motherhood thing right. Because you either get it right or you don’t. There was no room for trial and error in my mind. So I pushed my feelings down and carried on.
There were so many rules that I’d made for myself and for our girl even before we’d even met her. I would breastfeed her. She would wear cloth nappies. She would sleep in her own bed. Our child would never have a dummy. I never had one and I managed to survive okay. When I think about these rules now, they weren’t really my rules at all. I had learned them from when my mum was a mum and she from her mum and so on, back through the generations it goes. The rules were rigid, structured and judgemental. Lacking flexibility and from generations where the woman became a stay-at-home-mum once she’d given birth. She was expected to raise the family and manage the domestic chores.
One day, I had our angel midwife from the hospital visiting me and my mum was there too. On this particular day and for a few days before, I’d been struggling to settle our baby. Every time I lay her down for a sleep, she would wake within a few minutes. It was driving me bonkers. The constant crying and no peace was sending my world into chaos. I didn’t know what to do. Nothing I did seem to work. I was exhausted from a lack of sleep. My hormones were out of control. Tears came without warning.
With the help of our angelic midwife, we discovered that our girl liked to sleep with her head slightly raised. Who knew what kind of discomfort she had with her brace on? That’s the other distressing thing with a newborn too. There’s no instruction manual and no real indication of when you’re doing the right thing for them and when you’re not. There’s also no praise nor validation for when you do get it right. Something I was very much used to in my line of work. I don’t know that I ever got used to that. I just felt like a failure.
It dawned on me one day that I was never going to be the “perfect mum”. You know the ones you see on the cover of magazines in a bikini just weeks after giving birth. Trim, taut and terrific. I was never going to look like that because I’d had my stomach cut open to even have my baby. I couldn’t bring myself to look at my Caesar scar for the longest time. It was a constant reminder of how I’d failed as a mother right from the get go. Man, I couldn’t even have a natural birth, so what hope did I have of being the “perfect mum”.
These were the demons I was constantly battling with. You’re probably reading this and may even be thinking, that story you were telling yourself is complete and utter bullshit. And sitting here now writing it, years later, I can say without doubt that it was a bullshit story. We create our reality each and every day, in every single moment. With everything that happens in our world, we have a choice, whether we are aware of it or not. We choose how we feel. We choose how we respond. We choose what we believe in. We don’t always make good choices and at times may not even be aware that choice exists.
Looking back now, I know I took the safe choice, the familiar choice, the I-am-so-used-to-beating-myself-up-about-what-it-is-that-I-can’t-do choice that I don’t have it within me to see any positives in the situation. I wasn’t even aware at the time that if I’d not had the emergency c-section, I wouldn’t be here to share my story and most definitely wouldn’t be blessed with sharing my days with my beautiful, intelligent, inspiring and often challenging 4 year-old daughter. This is something I am now grateful and appreciative for every single day when I wake up and greet the world. I am truly thankful.