Ditch The Doubt!

It’s amazing how many times you doubt yourself as a mother. Or at least doubt your ability and if you’re doing the right thing for your child, making the best decision? How, all of a sudden you are blessed with this precious gift and are totally and utterly responsible for everything. Every single decision is on your head. This new little life is placed in your hands and no matter how many classes you attend or books you read or friend’s children you help babysit, nothing compares to having your own child. There is no rule book, no manual, no real ‘How to’ guide. There’s no real right or wrong, because everyone is different has an idea on how they’d like to parent. It’s just your instinct and those of others advice and experience. From that second, you question everything. Also to throw into the equation, is the pressure from other people who think their opinion and what they think, is right.
That pressure and feeling of being judged is there constantly. People giving their opinion on sleep routines, co-sleeping, feeding- whether ‘breast is best’ or bottle feeding, how to do this or that, whether they should be put into nursey at such a young age or be at home as long as possible, whatever it may be.
The thing is, no one’s situation or circumstance is exactly the same as someone else’s so it doesn’t really matter what other people say or think. It’s what is best for you and your child and your situation. Some people don’t have a choice on childcare or being able to stay at home. Some people can’t breast feed- or struggle with it and therefore are unhappy. I’ve always been told ‘happy mummy, happy baby’ especially when it came to breast feeding. I was lucky enough to be able to breast feed for approx. 3 months but then it became a struggle and Mia wasn’t getting what she needed, I cried a thousand tears, we were struggling all through the night, both of us exhausted, and therefore not sleeping well and being grouchy. This, in turn made me feel miserable and I felt like I’d failed. I switched to bottle feeding and Mia was happier and slept so much better. I could relax a bit more. It also meant it was less stressful going out anywhere because I found feeding so difficult in general but especially in public. I wasn’t one of these mothers that just could easily and casually whip out a boob and gracefully feed under a blanket. It didn’t come easily for me and sadly there is still so much stigma about feeding in public, which is such a shame, and to be honest shouldn’t make mothers feel insecure but sadly does. I completely respect and have so much admiration for mothers that breast feeding comes easy for. For me, being able to not worry about any of that and sharing feeds with her Dad was better for us all as a family and I finally let go of the guilt of not being able to feed her myself. I think a lot of mummies do put pressure on themselves for this. But I must stress that you don’t need to. You’re not alone and it’s ok to have these feelings of guilt. But you’re doing the best job and not to be hard on yourself. What’s important is that your baby is content and you are happy.
Your gut feeling and instinct as a mother is like no other. All of a sudden you obtain this almost superhero power. Don’t doubt it. It’s the most valuable tool you have. Use it and embrace it. Remember, what is best or what has worked for someone else might not be the same for you.
From the moment you become a mother, you go through so many emotional rollercoasters. Your body goes through more physical hurdles and albeit for a good reason, you are tested to the limit mentally, emotionally and physically, probably more than you ever will be in your life.
The one thing I’ve learnt is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Mia’s dad was amazing and very hands on and helpful but I just wanted to be able to cope and do everything and manage without having to ask. I wanted to be able to get on with the feeds, the nappy changes, the bath times, the cooking, the washing, housework, cleaning and everyday stuff because on the outside everyone else seemed to be a natural at all this. But Mia wasn’t a great sleeper and I was exhausted. I was conscious of trying to do the night feeds mostly on my own because Mia’s dad had to be up early for work and had very long days on his feet all day. Tiredness is so underestimated. Sleep deprivation can cause real problems and can really affect your health. Obviously as a new mum, you’re going to be tired to some degree and you will feel shattered, but there is a limit on what you can do with the little energy you actually have. Extreme lack of sleep can cause paranoia, nausea, headaches, hallucinations, stress, anxiety, lack of judgement and concentration. You need to take care of yourself as well as the baby. If you’re not functioning then this isn’t good. I remember ringing my Dad one day in tears as I had just reached the limit of sheer exhaustion and I was drained. The problem was, I never wanted to let her out of my sight and it was like I never truly trusted anyone else with her. I know that sounds crazy but that’s how I felt. But something had to give. He came and took her out for the day so I could sleep and get myself back to some sort of ‘normal’ functioning state.
Some days can be really tough, some days you might struggle to see how you’ll make it through the day. Some days, you might not get anything done, you might not get dressed, you might not get chance to eat. You might not get to put the washing on or do the ironing. This is normal and most people experience this. You will eventually find your own way and routine. Eventually you’ll get it together and you will be able to actually eat and get dressed and get yourself out and about. To begin with, it does feel overwhelming, and you don’t know which way to turn or what to do next but most mothers feel like this to start with. You’ve gone from a life where all you have to do is take care of yourself, you can come and go as you please, eat when you want, sleep when you want. Then all of a sudden you’re responsible for another little person and your world is turned upside down and changed beyond all recognition. Even with all the books, programmes, advice or seeing other people’s family life, you can never truly understand or believe it until you become a mother. It’s ok to need help. It’s ok to need a break. It’s ok not to be able to manage and control everything. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, it’s ok to feel scared. It’s ok to cry, to have a rant. All these things are what actually make you a good mother because your body is doing a wonderful thing and it’s hard. Of course having a baby is the most beautiful, wonderful and exciting thing, but it can also be scary, stressful and at times, really hard. This doesn’t make you a bad mother to feel these things.
This time goes so quickly. All of a sudden you blink and they’ve grown up. These precious moments will go in the blink of an eye. The moments when they cry every time you put them down, the moments when they’ll only sleep when they lie with you, the moments when they wake up every hour, every night for weeks, the moments when you feel like all you are is a feeding machine. For the times when they get into everything, break things, scream and cry in the middle of a shop, for the times when all you hear is ‘Mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy’ every 5 minutes. For all of that, just remember it doesn’t last forever and they will be grownup and independent and won’t need you as much. Then you’ll be wishing for those precious, beautiful, irritating, and annoyingly wonderful moments of when they were growing up. Treasure every moment, treasure every tear, every sleepless night, every cuddle, every time they only want you and your arms. You don’t realise the power of a moment until it’s a memory.
Through the good and the bad, you’re doing a great job. You’re not alone. You are brave, strong, resilient, powerful and doing the hardest job in the world. Believe in yourself.