In the early weeks with my first it was easy to imagine I was the only one.
The only one feeling like I was in way over my head.
The only one who couldn’t breastfeed right.
The only one who didn’t know how to get her baby to sleep.
The only one whose baby was hungry immediately after a feed.
It’s strange that what is the happiest time of your life, a time when you’ve started your family, can actually be the loneliest too.
I read about the sleepless nights and endless nappies in baby books before my first arrived.
I thought it had prepared me adequately for what was to come. To say it was a shock to the system is an understatement.
Those early weeks are a steep learning curve. As I struggled to understand why my baby was doing seemingly irrational things, like constant eating followed by constant crying, I thought I must be the only one.
Was I failing to burp her sufficiently? Was I giving her too much milk, or not enough? Was she constipated? Was she overtired?
I was constantly searching for answers to the steady stream questions running through my tired brain and coming up empty.
I assumed it must be me doing something wrong. That my baby was reacting differently to others.
Life became a little bit skewed in those early weeks and it was like I was living someone else’s life. I was sure other people had stepped into the role of mum with ease, helped by their unending love for their baby.
It’s not that I didn’t love my baby, I was totally in awe of her and felt a love more powerful for this tiny human than I imagined possible.
It was that I was convinced I was the first one to face this litany of problems. It was like everything was going wrong, it was all chaotic and I had lost control. I felt as if it was me all by myself trying to keep it together.
Then I started to chat to fellow mum friends. The stories of sleepless nights started to trickle out. Tales of breastfeeding woes and having to supplement with formula.
Friends who hadn’t managed to breastfeed at all.
Friends who were just about managing an hour of sleep a night if they took their baby into bed with them.
Friends whose babies would only nap when being cradled in their parents’ arms.
I finally realised it wasn’t just me who felt clueless at times. We are all just winging it, hoping we’re getting something right.
We all love our babies, but the fact is sometimes we don’t have a clue what to do with them.
Not a superwoman
To mums who are in those tumultuous early weeks and worrying you’re getting it all wrong, you’re not alone.
When you’re staring down the barrel of yet another all nighter, please try to remind yourself that:
Breastfeeding is way harder than it’s presented to be and most women have problems with getting the hang of it.
Babies are not born to sleep through the night, no matter what your granny told you.
Feeling overwhelmed is totally normal. Take a deep breath and take each hour as it comes.
Getting out of the house may have been simple before baby, but it’s ok to find it difficult now.
When dewy-eyed parents tell you what a dream their baby is, they’re not necessarily always telling you the full story.
Some babies will not conform to a routine no matter how hard you try to make it work.
Every baby is different.
You’re not a superwoman.
Asking for help is OK.
You are not the first person in the world to feel this way.
It will get better.