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How I found motherhood

Its safe to say, I was an expert in parenting - being a children’s nurse and a health visitor with years of experience. I knew everything I needed to know. I was totally able to give advice and know the answers to those comment parental questions. Until I had my own children, that is…

It seems funny now, that I felt so prepared. From the outside looking in. How romantic building a family together, how wonderful having a year to care for my baby. AND a year off work? I’ll have so much time to see friends, and maybe at last get on top of the house!



All sarcastic humour aside, it was not what I expected. Now before I go on, and in the knowledge that one day my children may read this themselves, I utterly love my children. We are overall a well connected and loving family, with the occasional descent into a complete lack of order and frantically looking for the scrap of paper on which we agreed to a bedtime routine… I mean it has to be somewhere under all this laundry!

But I found my maternity leave challenging.

Instead of feeling more connected than ever with my partner, family and friends, I actually felt very alone.

Friends didn’t have children and weren’t in the same stage of their lives, and everyone around me was working through the week including my husband after a measly 2 weeks paternity leave.

My baby, well she communicated with my in her way. But I didn’t always understand her, and sometimes felt I was doing it all wrong. How come I didn’t know what kind of cry that was? It was just a cry… and why was she crying when I’d done everything to make her happy, loved and safe? And why couldn’t I put her down to run for a quick wee? I was sure that she could sense any time I would relax, and it that moment wake up.

Also, why was my husband going to work as normal, like life hadn’t been turned on its head? And why was he suddenly the enemy in this? I’ve ran out of vests and I think there must be a way that this is his fault, I just haven’t figures out quite HOW its his fault... yet.

I did have people I could ask for help, but I should be able to do this alone right? I mean she’s my baby, I’m the mum, I shouldn’t need help. Not unless it was absolutely essential, maybe if I became unwell or something. The day dreams of needing some minor unimportant procedure (like maybe having a sleep study or something) and having a night in hospital came to me more than once. Imagine, sleeping through the night! I’d never realised that this actually is like having a super power.

I went to baby classes as a way of getting out the house, with the worry of how to suddenly strike up a conversation with someone else who may only share the similarity of the month she gave birth. The classes were all about the baby, and I thought actually, I focus on my baby every hour of every day, I just needed a bit of time for me. 

I became that self sacrificing mum, and I don’t say that as a badge of honour as its a ticket to nowhere, but I completely neglected self care. I was so tired i’d wake for feeds in the night, eat a cookie to perk me up, but then not go and brush my teeth until the morning. Needless to say my dentist was surprised I suddenly needed a large filling on my next check up. 

It was hard to communicate my needs, and even harder to share any feelings that motherhood wasn’t the most wonderful and blissful experience of my life. 

My daughter gave me beautiful moments of pure joy, where my heart swelled and I felt that she was always meant to be a part of my life.

But my maternity also had moments of isolation, self doubt and a yearning for the freedoms of my life before.

And for these reasons, I started my postnatal group. A safe space, to be yourself without feeling that any of your thoughts aren’t ok. A place to focus on maternal wellbeing. Ive been there, and after some time, made the once unfathomable decision to do it all over again (I have now had my fill of this and take my hat off to women who have the 3rd or more - you have my unwavering respect). Without meeting your own needs, it becomes so difficult to have that balanced and loving connection with the family around you. Self care means taking care of your family too, without it being in any way selfish. So don’t wait until you are depleted, take steps to care for yourself and show through your actions that looking after your wellbeing is something that everyone should be doing

Jenny x

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