New mama loneliness

Of all the things I expected motherhood to make me feel, lonely was definitely not one of them.

You would think it was a matter of simple mathematics. When you add a baby to the family, surely that decreases the odds of you feeling lonely, because there’s another person there to keep you company?

Not only that, but this person clings to you for dear life from the second they arrive in this world, screaming for you to hold them and never let go.

And yet it was loneliness that was one of the toughest things for me to deal with during the early months with my first child.

The feeling first struck me about four weeks after she was born. I had made it through the baby blues – an utterly rubbish phase that often saw me weeping as I sat hunched on the edge of the bed while pumping my boobs at 6am. I was trying to find my feet, and struggling with lots of worries.

All of my energy, attention and focus was going into being the very best mother that I could be to my new baby.

That meant I spent hours worrying I was getting it right, Googling for information about baby routines, and how to tell if your baby is eating enough. I thought about my baby morning, noon and night. When I slept I would dream I had accidentally brought her into bed with me, and woke with a start frantically digging through the sheets to find her, panic-struck she was suffocating somewhere under the covers.

My rigorous pumping schedule kept me tied to the house for many hours each day, and outings could only be short affairs, if I went out at all. In those early weeks I relished in the feeling of safety that came from being at home.

At home it didn’t matter if my baby cried, threw up, had a leaky nappy or refused to nap. At home I could attempt to deal with all of that without prying eyes staring at me and judging me for being a terrible mother.

And while being at home made me feel secure, it had the effect of isolating me from the outside world and my old life. I was a prisoner in my own home, because I felt when I was there I had some semblance of control, or I could at least pretend to be in control.

Of course we cannot expect to retain all of our old life, including our social life, once a baby has arrived. But being at home for hours every single day with no-one else to talk to but this tiny thing that not only doesn’t talk back, but spends most of the day appearing as if they hate everything you’re trying to do for them, is a shock to the system.

So while I retreated to the safety of my bunker, aka the living room sofa, that lonely feeling grew. With my brain totally occupied with my baby’s needs, I stopped thinking about my own and I forget to breathe, to just enjoy motherhood.

That intense desire to be the perfect mother wasn’t something I really discussed with anyone. I touched on it with a small number of close friends, but I didn’t really open up to anyone about how overwhelmed I was feeling. And so that loneliness grew.

In the initial weeks after having a baby you ride on the high of attention from adoring relatives and all the lovely messages of friends. But as the novelty wears off, it’s back to normal life for everyone else, while for you everything has completely changed. And as those important people return to their lives, it makes the massive alterations to your own feel even more of a shock.

I found that days would go by where I hadn’t talked to anyone, not even my very supportive other half, about how I was feeling inside. Everything was so much about the baby, that there was no room for me and my feelings.

And worse still, I beat myself up for feeling that way, because I had made the choice to have this baby, who I loved with every part of me, and here I was being selfish about my needs.

Having gone through all of that with my first little one, when I was pregnant with my second I didn’t expect this bleak feeling to strike again, and yet there it was.

While it didn’t feel as intense this time around, the stress of trying to cope with both of them and the intensity of every day life trying to cater to both of their needs, meant I isolated myself again.

I made my home our fortress of safety once again, not wanting to venture too far, because I told myself I didn’t want to up my stress levels anymore then they already were.

But what’s interesting to note is that while I was at home feeling all alone, the reality was that all over the country there were thousands of mums feeling exactly the same way.

Research by the British Red Cross in 2016 found new mums were among six groups of people most at risk from loneliness.

It can feel like the best course of action to simply get on with it, tough it out and break out the stiff upper lip. But in actual fact, these early years, while among the hardest of your entire life, are also among the most precious you will ever get to experience. Why then should we brave it out and suffer in silence? As mums we deserve to be happy, and we need to be happy, because that makes us better parents.

If you are reading this and can relate to anything I’ve written about, I feel your struggle. I have been there and I know what it is like.

Here are some of my tips to beat the new mama loneliness:

Talk

Make time to talk to your other half, or maybe your own mum, whoever you feel comfortable expressing these emotions to. Tell them how you are feeling. A loving relative will not think any less of you, they will want to help.

Research groups

I’ve had bad experiences of baby groups when I’ve fled with my tail between my legs and vowed to never emerge from my house again. But for every bad baby group, there are 10 good ones. Try a different group every week. They are a good place to meet new mums. If you’re really nervous about trying a new one out, find out if they have a Facebook group and put a message on there introducing yourself and asking who else will be at the next get together, this can be a good way to break the ice when you arrive.

Connect with friends

You may be lucky enough to have a group of pals who have had a baby at a similar time to you. If that is the case, keep in contact with them. Create a WhatsApp group and use it to air your daily thoughts, struggles and just have a chat. Try to meet up regularly, even if only for a 30-minute walk.

Find friends online

Social media is not a replacement for face-to-face contact with another human being, but it’s a good start. When we see that others are going through the same feelings and struggles as we are, it makes us feel less lonely. We feel understood.

Join networks, such as my Facebook page The Mummy Bubble where I also have a groups called Mama’s Outnumbered where you can connect with fellow mummies and ask questions.

Write a journal

I cannot begin to tell you what an amazing release writing this blog has been for me. When you write down your feelings it can be a wonderful way of releasing pent up negative emotions. Try writing a journal. While it can be great to have a good old rant in there, also try to make room for the positives in your life. Write down three good things that happened that day, even something as simple as getting the baby to sleep in less than an hour.

If any of this has struck a chord with you, please know you’re not alone. You’re more than welcome to email me at themummybubbleblog@gmail.com.

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30 Comments

  1. March 21, 2018 / 6:09 am

    Good post. I think the way motherhood has been focused on has really distorted the experience for people. Like any new job, it’s time consuming, a period of adjustment and difficult. And usually, there’s a lot of isolation while you get on top of things. Perhaps we need to stop focusing on a perfect experience….

  2. March 21, 2018 / 8:47 am

    I felt exactly the same with both of my children. I try to get out to baby groups but sometimes it’s the stress of getting ready yourself, the baby, making sure the feeds are all timed correctly, I end up cancelling and staying in. Your post was so informative and I loved the tips #fortheloveofBLOG

  3. March 21, 2018 / 9:02 am

    Three children in and I still found the hardest thing was the loneliness. Everyone else suddenly seems so busy with their own lives once the very new newborn phase has passed. Social media has been fantastic for me though – its like a whole community who are going through the same thoughts and feelings that you are. Great post. #FortheloveofBlog

  4. March 21, 2018 / 9:21 am

    Good post. People always talk about the excitement and joy of pregnancy and having a baby but not very many mentions the struggles and reality that moms face postpartum. It can be an emotional rollercoaster ride and support is definitely important. #fortheloveofblog

  5. Soffy S
    March 21, 2018 / 10:43 am

    I think this is absolutely true – even for those who are constantly surrounded by everyone even though that may seem odd to others but I sometimes felt like that despite having many people around me. Thanks for sharing something so personal xx

    Soffy // themumaffairs.blogspot.com

  6. March 21, 2018 / 11:00 am

    Loneliness is probably the hardest thing to cope with … Even if you’ve got great friends, it’s hard to open up and be honest about what’s going on. Social media and blogs etc have helped, because knowing it’s not just you can be really helpful 🙂 Have a great week

  7. March 21, 2018 / 12:51 pm

    What a great post. For the first few paragraphs I felt like I was reading my own thoughts and feelings! Which demonstrates how many people must go through this. My loneliness was the reason I created The Nuthatch Nest. Although my baby is my world, he doesn’t talk back yet so it’s nice to have this whole virtual world of mamas to turn to and posts like this show me that I’m not going mad- we’re all in th same boat. Thank you.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  8. March 21, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    Mama loneliness is rough. This was a great post and I’ll be sharing it.

  9. March 21, 2018 / 1:59 pm

    Yes! I went into that black hole of being on maternity leave and my husband went back to work and people stopped coming by…I was busy all moments of the day, but I felt so alone! I tried to get dressed and get out and do things, but was too exhausted and it was so much easier to stay home and count the minutes until my husband got home. I wish I would have started my blog then and not 8 months later! Thank you for this! So many women go through this and it’s not talked about enough!
    #fortheloveofblog

  10. March 21, 2018 / 3:08 pm

    Theres been times where I’ve felt lonely – more so with my first as it properly took me more time to get out there to groups and make friends – which can be daunting but great for both Mum and Baby. I think i enjoy some time by myself now! #fortheloveofblog

  11. March 21, 2018 / 5:11 pm

    I’ve felt very lonely initially, but then with some local mums we created a WhatsApp chat group and it’s still working and provides help and chit chat for local mums. With some of them we formed a real gang, my mum gang. Can’t do without them! #fortheloveofblog

  12. March 21, 2018 / 5:39 pm

    Great post. I don’t think it’s unusual for mums to feel that way, especially when it’s all new and you feel trapped in a house and attached to a baby. My friends were a lifeline #fortheloveofblog

  13. March 21, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    It certainly can feel lonely those first few weeks – some really excellent advice here. I certainly found the online community very helpful to help with these feelings of isolation. Great post. #fortheloveofBLOG xx

  14. March 21, 2018 / 10:07 pm

    I can completely relate to this! I felt exactly the same. I exclusively pumped for 9 months which shackled me to the breast pump every 4 hours and to our home which didn’t make life any easier. Some really useful tips to help!

  15. March 22, 2018 / 8:21 am

    Oh god I remember the loneliness. It was all consuming and crushing at times. I tried a couple of groups that made me feel worse but then I just started going out. Walking, the zoo, they flipping supermarket and just being around other people with zero expectations helped. It was weird. #fortheloveofBLOG

  16. March 22, 2018 / 11:14 am

    I think the worst part for me was that we were the first couple from our friends group to have a child. Back then when my eldest was born, the loneliness was not experienced due to not communicating with my husband – he was great and so helpful. I think it hit me hardest that all of a sudden there was a distance between us and our friends as we now had a child. Some great advice that you giving.#fortheloveofBLOG

  17. March 22, 2018 / 3:26 pm

    This is a brilliant post Vicky. It is ironical indeed that despite having another human/s to care for, and being so so busy with being a mother, loneliness hits most of us hard. But the tips you have given are great, definitely sharing this…
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. March 22, 2018 / 7:49 pm

    I can’t say I’ve felt lonely but I can see why so many mums do feel that way. I’m sure this post will help plenty of parents out there #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. March 22, 2018 / 9:58 pm

    I have felt this loneliness for sure and it can be so strong as to block optimism. These posts are important for people to know how often it occurs #fortheloveBLOG

  20. March 23, 2018 / 1:40 pm

    My blog was my saviour when I was in the depths of my PND. It is so hard to not feel lonely when you have a newborn that takes hours to get ready to leave the house all for a half hour catch up, its easier to cancel more often than not! #fortheloveofBLOG

  21. aliduke79hotmailcom
    March 24, 2018 / 5:27 pm

    I think people forget how lonely it can be when you first become a parent.
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  22. March 24, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    Great post, thanks for sharing and for your honesty. New mum’s put so much pressure on themselves nowadays for everything to be just perfect and it rarely is. #fortheloveofblog

  23. March 25, 2018 / 11:02 am

    Very good post and some great tips. Even though I’m a guy, I get this. One of my sisters went through much a similar thing, to the point that she spent her time berating herself about the silliest of things and became a recluse whilst her children were young. But they weren’t silly things to her, they were hurdles she had to overcome. As a family we supported her as best we could, but it was her strength that really brought her through in the end.
    #FortheLoveofBLOG

  24. March 26, 2018 / 2:13 pm

    It’s lovely that you have set up a Facebook help group for mums to support each other and combat loneliness. #fortheloveofBLOG

  25. March 27, 2018 / 10:10 pm

    That early mum loneliness can be such a shock to the system , it’s just so unexpected! Some great tips though #fortheloveofBLOG

  26. April 5, 2018 / 6:13 am

    This is an important post I think a lot of people can identify with. It’s tough being suddenly thrown into a completely different life and maybe becoming isolated from the life you used to have. Certainly leaving the house becomes a huge challenge, and often it’s just easier not to. #fortheloveofblog

  27. Lucy At Home
    April 5, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    Loneliness is one of the most horrible feelings in the world – it makes all the usual problems feel so much bigger and more insurmountable because you think you have to face them alone.

    And this post obviously resonates with people because it has been added to the BlogCrush linky 🙂 Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge! #blogcrush

  28. April 13, 2018 / 9:06 am

    I think so many people will identify with this post, and the horrible position of feeling guilty for feeling bad when everything is supposed to be hunky dory. And sound advice for dealing with it #BlogCrush

  29. Alice Letters to my Daughter
    April 22, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Getting out to groups and finding my mum-tribe absolutely made my early days of new motherhood bearable! And congratulations, someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your ‘I’ve been featured’ blog badge 🙂

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