What society puts on you vs reality

One of the things I really struggle with both in pregnancy, and since giving birth, is the image society and mainly the media give you about how it’s meant to be. For example, in pregnancy many mums expect all their nausea/ sickness to disappear overnight at 13 weeks, and to suddenly start “glowing”. Pregnancy is built up in the media to be this most amazing period in your life, full of amazing hair, skin and nails, looking amazing and feeling fantastic while growing this new life inside you.

I can honestly say in all 3 of my pregnancies I have never felt “glowing”. I’ve felt exhausted, fat, nauseous to the point of wishing I was being sick, gestational diabetes requiring insulin. I’ve had a pelvis struggling to stay together, a baby spending the pregnancy sat on my sciatic nerve, a baby that kept having kidneys that were too full at each scan, so they kept having to check. Each of the 3 has been stressful for different reasons (and yes maybe I was mad choosing to go through it again?!) Each time was 9 months of struggle.

It’s meant to be a time when you start to bond with you baby. With my last 2 pregnancies I had reduced movements., which actually makes this bonding difficult. In fact with my last pregnancy, I barely felt any movement from 28 weeks, so bonding was really hard. The only thing that helped, were the regular scans that I had for the diabetes. At no point was it a period where I felt I met societies pictures of a glowing and radiant mother to be.

Maybe I am a lucky one, in that the actual births have all been quick. Although this again has it’s own issues. I manage to avoid the perceived 24+ hours of crazy pain, screaming for an epidural, etc etc. I will admit there are certain points when my language would be more explicit than normal, and times near the end when I thought I couldn’t cope with any more pain. But I can’t complain.

But then comes the period of becoming a mummy to a newborn. The fourth trimester. The other period where the media makes out you should be glowing with the joys of your newborn, enjoy showing them off to the world, let the world smother them with love too. Well I’ve never experienced this either. I am currently nearing the end of the fourth trimester for the third, and final, time. I can say that the last 11 weeks have been a challenge. There are days when I struggle to get up and get dressed and function. Days when I have just kept myself hidden away from the world. I still struggle to let others hold my precious, beautiful daughter. I am tired. My husband is tired. Broken night after broken night takes its toll. Night after night with a baby lying on one or other of you for the whole night is exhausting. Yes, it’s what you sign up for in one sense, but it’s not the reality.

I wouldn’t be without any of my children, but I wish the media and society would change their expectations on mums to be and new mums. It doesn’t matter if you are a first or a fifth time mum. It still comes with challenges and sturggles as well as the joys and smiles that make every day worth while.

Please don’t think you know the answers….or have a strop cos you don’t get a cuddle!

Parenting for anyone is a journey.  It has highs and lows. Every day is another point of learning, of frustration, of joy, of laughter, of tears. For me, the last few weeks have been more of the lows and the tears than many would expect. My parenting journey has been an emotional challenge, that I was hoping it wouldn’t be. In the last 8 weeks I have struggled as having my daughter has not been the perfect time that I had dreamed it would be.

I know that at times of upheaval and change I have an even greater desire to be in control and for things to happen in the way I had expected. I also know that when it doesn’t I struggle with myself, my feelings of disappointment, and my urge to have everything in control. I also get more anxious as i feel life spiraling out of my control. I end up hitting rock bottom. I can get very depressed, and I find each day a challenge.

At the moment, most days are a challenge. Getting myself and my children dressed in the mornings often feels like a great achievement. To get out of the house, is an even greater task, both in terms of emotional preparation and in terms of physically getting there.

But in all these challenges I can keep hold of my children – with my baby this is often currently a very physical thing. I need to hold her for reassurance, but also so I know that I am not missing her cues for need of provision fro me – be it food, communication, space to sleep. I know people think they are helping me by offering to hold her, to take away the “burden” of having to do it all, but at the moment, I need to. When I feel safe and secure I will ask for help. I will ask for someone I trust to hold her, but I won’t just pass her around for cuddles.

With my toddler, it’s being able to give the cuddles, make the dinner, provide the stimulation required, sit on the floor and do the jigsaws. I need to know I am still meeting his needs. I also need days where all we do is chill together watching movies. I need to know I’m getting things right.

With my teenager, I need to know that I can still be there for him. I need to know I can drive him to college occasionally.  I need to be able to check in and chat over the day. I also need to be able to sit back and let him be the near adult that he is. I need to enable him.

And in amongst it all I need to be a wife that can support her husband. I need to be able to do bits around the house so that we can still function.

I know people will say to stop, let go of the feeling of have to, share some of it. But the reality at the moment is that at the moment I can’t. I haven’t got there yet. So sometimes I need space and that is where I am at. I am getting support from the right people, and I know I’ll get there in the end. I’m not always getting it right for the world, but right now it’s right for me.