Dear new first time mum, an open letter

dearnewmumDear new first-time mum, or not so new mum… Dear mum who’s finding it tough right now.
I know.
It’s fucking hard. It is. It’s not just you. Let me tell you something from the vantage point of a second time mum – this too shall pass. The only reason I can even vaguely cope this time is because I’ve done it before and I am confident it will come to an end.  Of course then a new and different really annoying thing will start, but hey, a change is as good as a rest.

That first time it is just so fucking hard and you must do whatever you can to get through. Eat chocolate, go on Facebook, watch crappy, Hallmark made-for-TV movies that have you somewhere between weeping and laughing because they’re so schmaltzy, but so bad.

I’m currently typing to you from the darkness of my bedroom, sitting up in bed because if I move The Girl to the baby jail (aka, her cot) after I feed her to sleep she wakes up again and I really really need to just get on with writing or I will lose my mind and my sense of self. Do whatever it takes to hang onto that sense of self, even if it means you end up dancing with the baby strapped to you in a sling, or reading your book bundled up against the cold as you one-handedly push the buggy containing your sleeping toddler round and round the park. I type blog posts in the dark while I eat cake and fantasise about having enough spare time that I don’t have to choose between a clean house and clean hair.

If you’re feeling low, I mean really low, then please go see your Health visitor or GP, because they do put extra resources into post natal mental health and you are not wasting anybody’s time, but please don’t feel bad or ‘less than’ because you’re struggling.

Everyone can see that you’re doing an ace job, but you’ll just discount it, thinking that they don’t know what you’re really like when you’re on your own with the baby, crying into your cold tea, still wearing a vomit-stained dressing gown whilst your baby cries for you to pick her up 30 seconds after you put her down and you’re ignoring her for just 30 seconds more because you’re so touched out it feels like your skin is about to peel off. Oh no, they’re just seeing the bits that you want them to see, the ones that portray you in a flattering light and blah blah blah – but she smiles, right?  However bloody infuriating it is, she just wants you, yes? – that’s good! She’s happy. She’s attached to you. That means you’re doing a really. Good. Job.

Doesn’t mean it’s not fucking hard to be you right now. It is so. Fucking. Hard. Grit your teeth and hang on. We’re all doing the same thing. It’s what mothers have done for years, decades, centuries. Generation after generation has gone through this. Thirty years from now you’ll be accosting snot-encrusted, hollow-eyed young women being mauled by a baby and telling them to enjoy every minute, that it goes so fast, that time is precious… Or perhaps you won’t, but you’ll probably be thinking it, because these days will fly by before you know it. But right now it’s just hard, and it’s OK to feel that way.

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8 thoughts on “Dear new first time mum, an open letter

  1. Emilie Curry says:

    Currently pacing the floor with a sleeping baby strapped to my chest because if I dare to stop walking or have the audacity to sit down, he’ll wake up! This is how we make it to a 5:30 bath every day! Reading this post was very timely! 🙂

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  2. Cat says:

    Bang on, (and loving the liberal use of the word Fuck, makes me feel better for using it, it’s just so perfect for the job). The one thing I wish that I had been told – was just how shitting, brutally hard it is at first. Not to put me off, but to make be feel less crappy when finding it difficult. Second time around and we have the insight, and the confidence to admit that some days were pretty dark.

    Cat

    http://www.breedandwrite.co.uk

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    • Milla says:

      Yes indeed. If anyone wants to argue about my sweariness I think I’d have to quote Stephen Fry at them: “The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest is just a fucking lunatic.” 😉

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  3. Rachael says:

    But, you know, I didn’t struggle like that, and am made to feel guilty that because, hey, maybe I just didn’t try that hard. I gave up trying to breastfeed after a few days. I have to pretend that i feel guilt stricken, but between you and me (!) It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I can give all the plausible excuses as to why, but the reality was i found it horrendous. I was blessed with a big, healthy, happy baby boy who ate and slept pretty well. I had a husband who pulled his weight and did more than his fair share. And although there were long days, i found i functioned pretty well as long as i could get a 4 hour stint of sleep. I didn’t spend all day in my pajamas. I got us up every morning and we went out with the dogs. It doesnt have to be made to sound so tough?
    What i do find consuming however, is the absolute all consuming emotional overhaul that i have undertaken. I can’t bear all the badness in the world any more. All these pictures of the refugee children, trafficked children, abused children. I cant help but think “if that were my boy…” I dont watch the news anymore, as i cant take the emotional burden. I worry every minute of every day about the world my boy is growing up in. And how can i keep him safe. The thought of the pain of anything bad happening to him… well, its all consuming.
    i cant imagine that part of being a mum ever changes. I just hope i can do enough, and with luck on our side my boy grows up to lead a happy life.

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    • Milla says:

      You raise an interesting point. Part of the reason I’ve found it easier this time is not just that I’d done it before, but that I had an exponentially ‘easier’ baby. With baby no.1 I was lucky to get 45 minutes sleep in a stretch – 4 hours would have felt like a rest cure! If you were blessed with one that (mostly) slept, that ate well and you were happy with the decisions that you made then you should feel lucky, not guilty 🙂 I think, on the whole though, that your experience is probably the exception rather than the rule. I am so glad that I had my ‘hard’ baby first, not just because it made me *really* appreciate the second one and her easy ways, but also that it stopped me from feeling smug (something I admit I am prone to) and thinking it had anything to do with the way I parented my children. It’s just sheer dumb luck.

      As for the emotional transformation, well, that starts in pregnancy and is worthy, I think, of a post all its own. What absolutely finish me off are the charity adverts calling for donations to children in abusive or famine-struck situations. They know just how to target us as parents, don’t they?

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I think all we can do as parents is try to be confident in the choices we make and do our best, but when it is tough it’s nice to know you’re not the only one struggling.

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