Our mum-to-be is now a new mother, and is coming to terms with her new role…
So, you’ve patiently waited for nine months, endured one of the most amazing (and traumatic) things your body can go through and your bundle of joy is home with you. What now? During my pregnancy people kept telling me: “Get as much sleep as you can, you’ll need it”. I always nodded and thought nothing more of it. When friends were saying “oh dear, get ready for the sleepless nights”, I foolishly thought ‘I’m sure it’s not that bad’. How wrong I was.
If, like me, you love a solid eight or nine hours sleep then nothing can prepare you for the sleep deprivation. The first few weeks have been a blur of tears, tiredness and delirium. It feels like I’ve been drunk since the day he was born. After childbirth (which let’s be honest is no walk in the park) your body is exhausted and unless you’re lucky enough to go in to labour at midday and be done a few hours later, the chances are you have had no sleep even before you’ve given birth. In my case 48 hours of contractions before official labour meant I was already asleep on my feet before the real fun started at home.
To add insult to injury, you’re pumped full of hormones that put you on high alert. Which, back in the day (in the wild) would make complete sense, but we’ve not evolved to modern day living. I found that this state of high alert caused me all-consuming anxiety and insomnia. Anxiety, incidentally, is made worse by no sleep. Of course it is! Mother Nature decided to deal new mothers a bit of a rough hand.
My amazing parents came to support us in the first few days and they kept telling me “sleep when the baby sleeps”. If only it was that easy! My eyes would be heavy and my brain fuzzy and yet I’d shut my eyes and sleep would not come. The midwives had told me to expect to be a ‘little teary’ on day four when the milk comes in. Well that was the understatement of the century – cue two weeks of crying non-stop, panic attacks whilst wondering why I thought I could handle a baby and worrying I’d never feel normal again.
People don’t talk about the baby blues very much and having now experienced them (alongside post-partum anxiety) I’m making it my aim to talk about it as much as possible. My own sister suffered from terrible blues after her son was born and I had no idea. It was only after I mentioned how I was feeling that the full story came out and she explained that for the first month she locked herself in the bathroom on a daily basis to cry. I hope that by telling other mums-to-be about my experience then it might not be such a shock to them if they feel the same. If your baby comes home and you’re instantly in love and relaxed then that’s amazing. But, if having a newborn baby hits you like a double decker bus then I hope that someone will have pre-warned you about the ‘blues’ and it won’t be quite so terrifying. My beautiful boy is four weeks old now and every day gets a little bit easier – I’m learning to appreciate every moment of him as I’m told I’ll blink and miss it!