A friend of my partner has just had his first child and it is taking me back to the first few weeks at home with our little ones. I’m going to say something that a lot of people have not taken well when I said it. I had many disgusted and pitying looks when I told people but that doesn’t take away the truth of it. The first four months after the twins were born I didn’t like being a mum. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my children, but I hated being a mum. I hated being on call 24/7. I hated that I couldn’t get time to myself (and when I did it was for a 5 minute shower and then straight back to it). I hated getting about 3 hours sleep a night and even then only having it in 45 minute bursts (when I was lucky!). I just hated being a mum.
The hardest thing for me was that I thought there was something wrong with me. I found it so difficult to find anybody that had ever felt anything like this and I was left feeling more alone than ever. I realise now that I was suffering from PND and this feeling of being alone is quite common. So why was it that when I spoke about how I felt to family and friends they looked at me as though I was crazy and didn’t love my children? I fear this is because we live in a world where we don’t talk about it. Women are expected to give birth and be happy because they have their children. They should look after their babies while the men go to work and when they return the house should be clean and dinner will be on the table.
I can look back at it now and I know that how I was feeling is quite common (although it still seems to be a taboo subject) but at the time it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To add insult to injury I found everything everyone said to be patronising and insulting, though I know people were just trying to be helpful. I don’t believe having a child makes you an expert on the matter. I don’t believe having 10 children makes you an expert on the matter. And my reason for this is that every child is different, every family is different and every family dynamic is different. So I found people’s ‘helpful comments’ made things much worse and I am now in that same position. I would love to be able to say something to these new parents to ease their difficulties but the truth of the matter is they will figure it out for themselves – just as we all have been doing for centuries.
As it is I don’t see my being a parent of twins makes me any more clued up on the matter than the next mother. Don’t get me wrong, I know my family inside out and I know what works for us, but I don’t have a clue as to other people’s families. I feel I have worked through difficult times and I am a better mother for it but I have ignored the advice of most people and figured it out on my own. I have turned to my mother for advice plenty of times, I still do, but I don’t necessarily listen to her and it works for us. So my advice to myself 13 months ago would be to calm down, don’t take offense to everything and don’t assume everyone is judging you. Ask for advice but don’t feel obliged to take it. You’ll figure it out and as cliched as it might sound, it will get easier.