Labour, postnatal anxiety and the days in between.
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that this blog post will be about labour… I can see why you might think that.
We may as well start there though… get it out of the way…
I was asked multiple times after giving birth whether I pooed myself during labour. Why are people interested this?! Especially men?! Regardless of how often this topic is discussed (it will usually be brought up whilst you are pregnant), I was still embarrassed to be asked. Possibly because in the aftermath of childbirth I was still traumatised by the whole experience. My answer was, “I was so out of it, I don’t know”… lets just say if it does happen, it is not a surprising eventuality considering you are pushing a baby from your arse. Yes, that is what it feels like. If you are reading this and know that this is a question you may ask a new Mum, just don’t. In fact, PISS OFF!
Now that is out of the way… literally, on to the main topic of this post. Fear.
Being a new Mum is daunting enough. Getting out of the house takes planning and thinking ahead. “Will I get from point A to B before she screams at me for a bottle?”, especially when, at the beginning, the screaming can occur at any time. Come Sunday night, the anxiety sets in for the approaching week. It dawns on you that you face the impending week alone. You are not alone but you are lonely, even if you see people every day.
When my partner went back to work after 2 weeks of paternity leave, I shat myself. Again, not literally, but I was terrified. The nights were lonely anyway but I was so exhausted and still in pain and I wasn’t ready to go it alone. It is usually at this point that visitors and guests dry-up too. The bottles, nappies and crying were still new and I couldn’t see that it would become second-nature; it felt like hard work and I was worried that it was just me that felt that way. We had a problem with wind and not a funny problem. What if I couldn’t burb her and she just screamed for hours?! It sounds ridiculous to write it down but I was genuinely worried.
I can tell you, knowing what I know now, it will feel natural in a few months and whilst you won’t believe me right now if you are in the midst of it, those months will pass in a haze. It will be like it never happened, which is when you’re ready to do it all over again.
There is no shame in feeling anxious about approaching a new week or a new day alone. We all get that Sunday night feeling whether we’re new Mums or not. It is a tough job and two parents share the load with both supporting each other. I experienced the “Sunday night anxiety” for a few months until Motherhood became my natural way of life, and then eventually, fun. It was around the 5 week mark, when she learnt to smile, that my days felt brighter and she would wake up and smile at the sight of my face. It made me realise that all of the hard-work was worth it. They love and trust you and now you need to trust yourself.
You are not alone in feeling anxious or fearful. You are not failing and it is okay to admit it. Be open about how you feel and you will find other Mums (and/or Dads) feel the same.
Be kind to yourself, be kind to others and know that everyday, no matter how lonely or low you feel, you are not alone! This feeling will not last forever.