An analogy I often use with clients who are struggling with motherhood and all the changes it brings is its like the stages of grief. Now I realise that sounds a bit dramatic but bear with me a minute.
The first stage of grief is shock. When we have a baby, we are filled with ideas of how wonderful its going to be. We are going to be the most amazing mum and love every second of it. It’s going to bring you together with your partner because you created this little life. And then the reality hits. You find it really fucking hard. Its relentless and boring. You don’t enjoy it and quite often find yourself questioning why you even had the baby in the first place. You argue more with your partner, you never go out anymore and it feels lonely. Now let’s be clear it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby (for some women it does feel this way but not all) but it’s really really hard.
And that comes as a shock. Its NOT what we expect. It’s not like what the books said. And we don’t know what went wrong.
The next stage of grief is denial. I know so many women, myself included, who do a GREAT job of masking how they feel. They deny how anxious or how low they feel because admitting it might seem like a failure or they worry that if they admit it someone might take their baby away. They manage to paint on a fake smile and say they are ‘ok’ every time some one shows concern.
Next we move to anger.
Anger finds its outlet in different ways. You might feel growing anger or resentment towards your baby. You hold them responsible for the situation you now find yourself in. Maybe if they were an ‘easier’ baby or slept more you wouldn’t feel this bad. Even though you may know that these thoughts are unrealistic it doesn’t stop them coming. Sometimes we might even feel that the baby doesn’t sleep on purpose to spite us or that they don’t like us.
Anger can also find its way towards our partners. The balance of the relationship has tipped and no longer seems equal. Your partner gets to go out each day and have adult conversation and eat a meal in peace whilst you are stuck at home. Even if this is something which you wanted and was discussed prior to the baby arriving it doesn’t make it easier.
Eventually, sometimes with help, we move towards acceptance. Accepting that life will never be the carefree existence it once was. Accepting that things have changed. But that this change is fluid. Its ever changing. What feels like a struggle today by next week or next month that stage will be over you and you will be onto the next. Eventually they do sleep, and you start to recoup. They begin to more and more independent and you gradually claw back tiny amounts of time. You can go to the toilet whilst they sit and watch a cartoon. They will play independently meaning you can get house jobs done or sit and have a coffee that’s still hot.
You will accept that your body is different. You might not like bits of it, but you can accept it is the way it is because you grew a human. Although I struggle still to accept that I pee if I go on the trampoline.
If you stay stuck in denial or anger its not a great place to be. Its not helpful to you in moving forward. So, if you think you are stuck reach out and talk to someone. Your partner, friend, GP or pop me an e mail and I can sign post you some help.