08 Apr I’m not the mother I thought I would be.
I have wanted children for as long as I can remember. I was a natural with babies and kids. I always said I wanted 4 just like my Mum and hoped for two boys and two girls, just like my Mum. I thought I would have them quite young, I thought I was going to be a wonderful Mum. I thought Motherhood would come easy to me.
I fell pregnant at 29 and had a fantastic pregnancy; no morning sickness and I was fit and healthy. However, my labour was tough and I stupidly did it drug free. My big boisterous baby boy screamed the majority of the time I spent in hospital. The nurses said he was a ‘steak and chips’ boy not satisfied with this colostrum.
The first two weeks were ok in newborn terms. He fed relatively well, after a lactation clinic visit, and slept relatively well. The newborn ‘normal’ crying then ramped up a level. Our little guy would scream from 7pm until 12am every night and we were unable to soothe or settle him. We walked the room, rocked, drove you name it… I cried with him. A maternal health nurse told me it was ‘PURPLE CRYING’ and gave me a pamphlet. At his 6 week check-up my GP fobbed me off as an anxious new mother. She dismissed my concerns and did not thoroughly check my baby.
Our baby was in fact seriously ill. After going to emergency our boy was flown to Royal Children’s hospital. I remember arriving at the hospital and racing to find our little boy, and he was unrecognisable. He had deteriorated so quickly that he no longer looked like himself. Thinking about this now still brings me to tears. After many tests it was determined that he had a partial blockage in his urethra and in turn contracted a UTI. This UTI led to dehydration and failure to thrive.
This emotional start to motherhood derailed the mother I thought I would be. I became so anxious about my baby’s health. Every cry scared me, I rushed to the doctors if he wouldn’t settle and I was afraid to be away from him.As time went on I relaxed and my baby boy thrived and has become a beautiful, happy, intelligent little boy. I do still panic about his health, but luckily have not had any recurring issues.
We decided it was time to have baby number two. I was confident, a little too confident, that second time around I would cruise through the newborn stage as I had already experienced a difficult time. Our second big beautiful boy was born November last year. The last four months have challenged me like I have not been challenged before. There have been times where I was not sure I would make it through. I wanted to give up, I wanted to runaway. No sleep, and a screaming baby who wouldn’t sleep or feed well turned me into a monster. My little family was struggling to stay afloat. My husband was being stretched in every direction and my toddler’s world had been turned upside down, I was not coping.
I was told it was reflux. We started our baby on reflux medication which did not do anything. I went back and forth to the GP, I went to a paediatrician, to a baby and mother unit and to a sleep school. Our baby lost weight and screamed after every breastfeed whilst I was screamed in total exhaustion. Finally a doctor said his reflux medication dosage was not sufficient and upped the dose. I was so emotionally drained from battling to breastfeed and watching my boy lose weight that I offered the bottle. He took it instantly and weaned from me in 2 days. My baby was hungry. I had failed my baby. Mummy guilt is always lurking in the shadows.
Getting out of the house is difficult. I wait for my little baby to let loose with his high pitched scream. Strangers comment on my upset baby all the time. I believe it is my fault my stress and anxiety is rubbing off on my baby. I cry a lot and worry about my boys; about what a hopeless mother I am; about the psychological damage I might be causing them by my emotional outbursts. I go between feeling positive after successfully putting the baby down to sleep at the right time to feeling angry and frustrated at the baby and myself for not being able to resettle after a catnap. I over analyse everything about my baby and in turn push my toddler to the side. I am constantly torn between giving my toddler time and making sure my baby doesn’t go into meltdown.
I watch others with their children who have it together and who seamlessly go to the park or do the grocery shopping and feel so self-conscious and envious. I try not to compare myself to others (easier said than done) and remind myself that every mother has difficult days. I try and be very open about my struggles with motherhood as I think it helps others struggling to know they are not alone. I am comforted by articles or comments from Mothers that reflect my feelings and struggles and who have come out the other end. I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have good days now that go relatively smoothly; days where I don’t feel like a complete failure.
I am not the mother I thought I was going to be and that is ok. My experiences have changed me they have made me stronger; they have challenged me and have nearly broke me. But I only have to look at my beautiful, intelligent, loving 2.5 year old and my cheeky, determined 4 month old to know that despite what I tell myself I must be doing something right.