I was in the car with a mum friend the other day, both us of with two children each under our slightly larger elasticated belts, and began to tell the other how our day had gone.
It was the usual, tantrums, teething and poo explosions down the crisp aisle in Morrisons but we began to delve into a more deeper conversation.
I had been struggling with postnatal depression (PND) since my second child was born, and was finding it hard having an energetic preschooler and a baby that didn’t sleep.
I was finding difficult adjusting to having a ‘normal’ child when my first child was a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) baby that required open heart surgery when he was 6 months old.
I turned to her and told her I was sorry:
- Sorry, that I had failed her when she had her second child.
- Sorry, that I didn’t give her enough support.
- Sorry, that I don’t think I listened or understood what she was really telling me.
We spoke about how hard it was, how no one actually talks to you about what it will be really like when you have a child.
It isn’t until you are in the trenches yourself you realise, how unprepared you truly are.
You realise the classes, the books, the TV shows no one was honest with you.
The media bombard us with unrealistic expectations, and now living in the age of social media there is even more pressure being added to our lives.
We are supposed to switch from working to becoming a mum, then 9 months later juggle both of them whilst being in our skinny jeans and sporting a glossy hair do all at the same time.
Pressure comes from all angles, sleeping, feeding, crafts, baking, screen time and childcare are all up for discussion and depending on your ability to do them all determines your worth as a mother apparently.
We aren’t supposed to talk about how hard we find it, how we aren’t actually enjoying motherhood at times and how you would sell your nan to have one good night’s sleep.
We cannot admit to ourselves we find it hard, we make excuses, we convince ourselves, we lie to partners and friends and we feel as though we have to pretend it is okay. But why the facade, why isn’t it okay to just accept that things are tough?
That you miss being just you, and wanting some time on your own and you have often wondered if you made the right choice.
When you have a child, the world is watching, waiting to make its judgement and you cannot possibly say ‘I need help’ without the stigma of being labelled and unfit mother.
If you do dare speak out, or heaven forbid make a joke of it you are branded as a ‘scummy mummy’. We are made to feel as though we aren’t grateful, we are being insensitive when we talk about the more negative aspects of motherhood.
Motherhood isn’t always picture perfect, in fact in very rarely is.
With the good days come the bad, with the milestones come the difficult ‘phases’. Sometimes you just need to be able to be honest with yourself without fear of persecution and just admit that right now no, I don’t really like my sassy mothered four year old, and I am incredibly frustrated with my 15 month old who doesn’t sleep.
As a NICU mum I regularly feel as though I am not allowed to talk about NICU. It makes people feel uncomfortable, they don’t know what to say and instead will try and move on from the conversation quickly.
I have to be honest, this is where I began my start to motherhood and the effect I had on me still causes ripples today. It has affected how I parented, how I felt but alas we are still made to feel as though we need to keep our chins up and move forward as if it never happened.
I wish someone told me how hard being a mother truly was before, that this is reflected in the media that we have something, anything to relate to that gives a bit of honesty rather than a fake perception of it.
Slowly, I think there is a rise of women stepping out to be honest about motherhood and the darker side to it but still I see the persecution of these women. Whether it be in the main stream media, the comments on their posts, or the trolls tarnishing their name and deciding how fit a parent they are when they don’t even know them.
I started my blog to honestly confess what parenting a NICU baby is like with mental health struggles, and it has been at times hard to put myself out there. To be vulnerable and I too have faced the tolls, the judgemental comments but if it helps just one mother feel less alone, understood and comforted then it makes it worth it.
Honesty doesn’t scare me anymore, I will freely admit when I am finding it hard, what scares me is as a society mothers are made to feel like we should suffer in silence.
Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD, Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues.
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