The Harsh Reality of a Newborn
This piece was written by Moni Barry and can be found on her blog here.
I title this series "The Newborn Diaries" and the newborn I refer to is not Beauden but myself. A newborn mother, a newborn woman, a newborn sense of self.
I have kept a journal since I was given one for Christmas when I was 9 years old - it was green with pictures of starfish on the front and a small gold lock. It brings me great amusement to look back on that journal and think of all the worries a 9 year old girl once had "I hate Mum, she won't let me watch Shortland Street and she promised I could". Writing, for me, is a way to get the torrent of thoughts storming in my mind out of my head so I can breathe again.
Lately I've been reflecting on how far I have come in so many ways, by no ones standards but my own, since Beauden came into my life and I thought I would share an excerpt of my journal from each month of my motherhood journey to show that their is a light at the end of that newborn tunnel and that there is another way. Your thoughts, believe it or not are entirely optional - you have a choice how to respond to your environment (response-ability). You will see that my thoughts and patterns were very different then to now. My emotional state during the first 6 months of motherhood was pretty bad. I wouldn't say I was depressed per se - though my doctor was concerned enough to refer me to a psychologist. In reflection, I felt like a victim of my own choices, I was driven by fear and felt totally out of control of my own life.
NB: These excerpts are mostly unedited accounts directly from my personal journal - I have removed the names of my loved ones to maintain their privacy. My writing also switches narrative but mostly I have written as if I'm talking to Beauden directly so apologies for any confusion.
7 DAYS INTO MOTHERHOOD.
Today was a hard day for me. I've barely slept since you were born, I'm emotional and teary.
Everything seemed to be against me today and all I wanted to do was rest. We had visitors all day, about six or seven people coming and going - then the mailman came twice with flowers and a package. Motherfuckers. One of them knocked so loudly they woke you up, I wanted to knock him out. Apparently I have to put a sign on the door. Who knew that there was a sign to warn posties of sleeping babies, not me. I wonder where you buy them from? I didn't see any at Baby Bunting...
I'm home alone and find myself sitting on the couch crying uncontrollably feeling alone and abandoned. Is that true? Probably not, but I don't care. I know it's mostly hormonal but I'm so scared, of what I'm not sure. Maybe of this new life? It's hard being a Mum - my life is on a 2-3 hour repeat cycle and you are so needy. I feel guilty but right now I wish I was anywhere but here.
Breastfeeding hurts - I didn't realise how hard it was, I don't know what I'm doing wrong? Each time I have to feed you I fill with dread. My mind goes into a meditative state as you feed because it is so excruciatingly painful, but somehow I get through the seventh feed of the day even it is with gritted teeth and tears streaming down my face. I can barely stand to wear clothes my nipples are so cracked and sore - I must be doing something wrong?
It's 7pm, Dad still isn't home and there's no dinner for me. I haven't showered today. Did I shower yesterday?
I'm bleeding, you're spewing what seems like all of your milk up, I can't figure out how to put your nappy on your tiny fragile body properly. It's all happening here. If I have to change another set of sheets I might scream. Or just not change them - one or the other. Does that make me a bad Mum? Probably. I know how to do bad Mum.
10pm and Dad is finally home, he's drunk and wants to hold you but I'm not letting him touch you in that state. I'm sleep deprived, and now, I'm on my own with you, a newborn, all night. I feel nothing but dread for the night ahead.
I text my best friend for a dose of sympathy or at least understanding and all she said was "this too shall pass". She said she only slept for four hours last night and her son is one. I feel sick thinking about having to do this for an entire year. Please tell me it gets better.
Once you've had a chance to read, I'd love to know:
If you could go back to those first days of motherhood what advice would you give yourself?
Leave a comment below and let me know. Remember, share as much detail as possible in your reply. I want to create a space where people can come here each week for insight and inspiration, and your story may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.
If you have friends, family or colleagues who are first time Mama's or about to have their first baby, share this post. The world needs more happy, engaged and passionate peeps!