Being a mum is both equally amazing and challenging, we all come to expect ups and downs, tears of frustration, tears of joy, moments of great achievement and days which are just shit from the start, and these things become the daily norm- but what no one really prepares you for at all in this journey is the loneliness that often comes with motherhood and how much of a shock to the system it can be.
This post is entirely my own opinion and views, and I know that this won’t fit the jigsaw for everyone as we all have different experiences, but before you carry on reading, I want to make it clear that in no way am I ungrateful for my life, I am not selfish for wanting to be me as well as being a mummy and I feel that this is such an important topic to touch upon, as many mothers feel selfish for missing parts of their old life, and feel guilty for admitting they feel lonely with a new baby in tow, women are expected to just crack on with it all and feel nothing but sheer joy- sometimes we don’t feel this way or it doesn’t just come to us in abundance!
I went from working full time in a busy job in the NHS to being on maternity leave, at home with a baby with no major interaction other than cooing over my infant son. Now yes, we all have the odd visitor if we are lucky, someone might pop in for coffee for an hour, but it still doesn’t compare to the busy life that was experienced before having kids. Carefree trips to the shops, unplanned outings, being available most of the time at short notice. People often envy those who are on maternity leave because they have all of this so called free time off work but I missed so desperately the conversations with my friends and colleagues, I missed the social interaction with such a diverse group of people, and even my daily routines- I just felt a bit of an anti climax to the whole thing. Most of all, I missed the fact that I wasn’t treated as “Jade” anymore- I was treated as a new person, one with no interests of my own, no topics that didn’t revolve around babies and finding myself unable to relate to all of these other mums who had their shit together doing everything by the book. Don’t get me wrong, being a mother came naturally to me, I have always been a maternal person and nothing made me happier than having Alfie- but this new way of life was still a huge change to my old life and it was a big adjustment.
I adore Alfie with every fibre of my being, he is my everything. Obviously I love being a mummy as i’m pregnant again and cannot wait to have another child! That said, those early months when the sleepless nights are at their worst, you are feeling not so great about yourself and you see everyone getting on with their daily lives while you feel stuck in a cycle of shitty nappies, feeding and cleaning puke off your t shirts- it’s all a bit overwhelming!
If you have read some of my previous posts, you will be aware that I was unwell mentally after the birth of Alfie and when I was admitted to the mother and baby unit, I had great company in the form of the other mums who became my good friends, the recovery process was eased with such companionship and these friendships changed my perspective a lot, but when I came out of hospital, I think that is when the loneliness really hit me. I didn’t have those other mums, my friends around me every day. Before the hospital admission, I had been in the bubble of having a newborn and then became unwell so I didn’t have time to feel lonely because there was so much going on and looking back, I was definitely on another planet if i’m honest- it’s not until we were back at home it hit me hard. Mark went to work as normal and people have other commitments, whether it’s work, their own families, school etc. People can’t be there 24/7 and I never wanted that, but my anxiety also prevented me from reaching out and doing new things. Day after day spent at home with a baby who cannot talk back to you, doing the same tasks, following the same routines until Mark would get home, it was monotonous. Watching the sun shining so brightly outside, people out there having fun and laughing and I would sit on my sofa and watch them in total awe, wishing it was me and Alfie out there. Ok, this is not a pity party, but when you have anxiety you will know exactly the depth of grasp it has over every decision you make- it is fucking horrid.
Nowadays, after a lot of hard work, I am more in touch with friends, have a better drive to engage socially and I an determined to get Alfie out and about. My mummy friends and I are in a group chat together and we discuss daily the different things going on in our lives and it really helps to see other people’s versions of normality, and its not until you do become more open with others that you realise, we are all in this shit together and I am completely normal for feeling and thinking the way I do! I sometimes worry about having another baby incase we are in the same position as before but i’m staying positive and pushing myself forward as much as possible to keep those friendships close and meeting up with my friends regularly so I don’t start to isolate myself again. I think that I may well have turned a corner and I need to remind myself that being brave and pushing yourself is so worth it compared to those lonely days that come as a result of the alternative.
If you are feeling lonely, I would seriously recommend that you try and reach out for support- this is a tough journey and if you can do it with some enjoyment and satisfaction that will make all the difference. Also remember- YOU are a person too! You are not just mummy- you are still you! It is so important to keep a hold of those interests you used to have, even simple things like putting your make up on everyday, having a bath, reading a book when the baby is in bed- do things for you as well as everyone else. Looking after yourself to make sure you are healthy and happy is imperative, the rest will follow!
Stay well, stay sane and most importantly- stay you!