One of the biggest challenges of motherhood is not getting to know your baby, but getting to know yourSELF as a mother. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there is even a YOU in all this chaos!
It’s hard to imagine, before having children, that you could even lose yourself. Until suddenly – some time after your baby arrives – you realise that you already have.
Caterpillar: [meeting Alice] Who… ‘R’… ‘U’?
Alice: I- I hardly know, sir. I’ve changed so many times since this morning, you see… Caterpillar: I do not ‘C.’ Explain yourself.
Alice: I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir, because I’m not myself, you know. Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: Well, I can’t put it any more clearly, sir, for it isn’t clear to me.
Finding yourself as a mother is a slow and teach yourself process. It’s not something that can be rushed, but it certainly is something that can be sabotaged.
Experts, books and guru google can all slow down the process of finding your feet in motherhood. Avoid any information that makes you second-guess yourself or feel stressed.
My first baby cried and cried and never slept. When I was at my wits end and took my daughter to the GP.
We had to wait for ages and my daughter was screaming in the waiting room. I breastfed her and by the time we got into see the doctor she was milk drunk. The doctor saw her during a rare and brief moment of peace.
I described my baby (always crying, never sleeping) and the doctor said (exact words!):
“You just haven’t developed good settling skills.”
Those words haunted me for years. I reached out for help and was told it was indeed my fault. This trusted professional just reinforced the idea that I was doing something wrong, that I was to blame.
Like many modern mothers, I doubted my decisions and mistrusted my instincts.
Books, studies, reports and information only fed my anxiety and undermined my confidence.
It turns out my daughter had reflux, but she lost 300 grams in a week before the doctors took my concerns seriously.
It took me until my second baby was born to realise that baby’s are indeed all different, and my parenting skills were not at fault.
Instead of turning to books and experts, be as kind and tender with yourself as you are with your baby. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and know, in your heart, that you are doing the best you can.
Don’t look to experts for reassurance that you are good, kind and capable mother. You will not find it there.
Because that good, kind and capable mother is not somewhere in the outside world. Spend less time with experts and more time with yourself and your baby. That’s where your search for yourself will begin to bring that peace and joy your are looking for.
It was inside you all along.
Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready.
Julia inspires pregnant women to make the six weeks after your baby is born the best six weeks of your life. Get free pregnancy, sleep and breastfeeding resources at www.newbornmothers.com. Be the mum you want to be.