Time to break the silence on this thing. Not sure how this post will go as I tend to just brain dump when I write and the old girl is pretty rusty on it but if you’re up for some real talk then read on.

The last few months have been pretty tough. Even just writing that I feel guilty because we have it so much better than others but I’m learning to be kind to myself again so need to push that guilt aside for now. Basically the sleep deprivation I was writing about in my last post got way worse. It got to the point where our little man would only sleep on me during the day and was waking about five or six times a night. We ended up bringing him into bed with us most of the time (always safely for the record, if you’re one of those people who can’t abide that then feel free to leave now because as many parents know, you gotta do what you gotta do to get through).

He had also developed a habit of waking every 20 minutes or so during the evening so hubby and I had no time to ourselves. I ended up feeling like I was going to work as I went to bed and we found ourselves in this new normal that just wasn’t sustainable. That’s when the low feelings started creeping in. It felt like these feelings were invading my persona and robbing me of myself – if that makes any sense. I grew to dislike myself and put the blame for what was happening squarely on my shoulders.

I read a fellow Mum’s blog this week that really struck a chord with me. The post was about Mum guilt and when I read these words I was just like YES! So much yes… she writes “Mum guilt is entirely created by the pressure we put on ourselves as a Mum to be decisive. To know what we are doing is right and have unwavering confidence in our own ability“.

Everyone tells you to ‘go with your gut’ when you have a baby but what happens when you genuinely have no clue what’s causing the behaviour? Also the internet is a double edged sword for new mums. Yes it is a fantastic way to keep in touch with other mums but it also leads you down that wormhole of googling what could be wrong so you end up getting a thousand different opinions that cloud your own judgement. I just felt like something was wrong with me as a mother because I didn’t have that ‘gut feeling’.

So where are we now? In a much better place I’m so happy to say. I started out writing this blog for myself but if anyone else who can identify is reading I really just want to emphasise how much help we sought to get to where we are now. I so wish there was one thing that I could tell you to do that would fix things and maybe there is a simple answer for you but for us it wasn’t just one thing. It took weeks of Doctor appointments, medication, Plunket check ups, a sleep consultant and eventually a few counselling sessions for me.

As Kiwis I feel like there’s this pressure on us to just ‘get on with it’ but this experience has taught me a really important lesson – your mental health is just as important as your physical health, especially when you’re shaping the world of a new human being. I was pretty shocked at the standard of care when I suspected that I was falling into a dark place and sought help. My Plunket nurse was utterly bewildered when I asked her who I could speak to and gave me a handout of websites that I could approach (although she suspected some of them had shut down). Then when I approached one of them it took three weeks for them to get back to me. Three. Freakin. Weeks. Thankfully by that time I’d already been exploring other ways to feel good and was in a much better space but what if I wasn’t? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

It feels like there is loads of support and mental health check ups for newborn mums in New Zealand but once bubs make it past that 8 week mark then suddenly you’re on your own and there’s this assumption that you’ve got this. Unfortunately for us, that’s when life started to get difficult and we discovered some issues that led us down the spiral of slow growth, no sleep blah blah I’m tired of talking about it now as I would much rather focus on the positives.

I’m really proud to say that life is happy again and I don’t want to waste a second more dwelling on the negative thoughts. Everyone says that the first year with their baby is the best year of their life and ofcourse it is but it can also be the worst. There’s no black and white when it comes to being a mum and my biggest learning from our experience is that you need to love yourself as much as you love your baby.

I’m still on that journey to self love again after months of doubting myself and I know it’s going to take months (maybe longer) to get there so I guess my message is to ask for the help. Don’t keep battling and waiting for that gut feeling where like magic you instantly know how to be that super mum because guess what? Super mums aren’t real. Everyone struggles and it’s such a heartbreaking shame that only a tiny fraction of people reach out and admit they need help. Be kind to yourself mamas and papas! Eat that chocolate brownie, get that massage and do that yoga class – your babies will thank you for it.

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