Before I fell pregnant I had a dream job, had an amazing relationship, and a beautiful home. Fast forward 2 days before I went into labour, my husband and I bought a new house to fit our new expanding family.
The very first weekend I came home from the hospital was our first open house to sell our old apartment and that continued every single weekend for almost 3 months. The stress and pressure were intense – not just financially but also mentally and physically – trying to keep the apartment immaculate with a newborn baby was not just unrealistic but goes against everything I now believe in when it comes to rest and recuperation for a new mother.
I was also struggling to breastfeed. I felt like I was failing at the one thing that as a mother I was supposed to be able to do. I never expected the pain and the hours on hours of trying to express with little to no results. I lasted about 4 weeks and I remember the day that 2 of my best friends came over and sat with me while I cried and they made me realise how normal it was to feel this way. They also helped me realise that there was no shame in stopping and switching to formula because, at the end of the day, fed is best.
It felt like such a massive weight had lifted off my shoulders and everything started to look up.
Not long after that we finally sold our apartment and we made plans to move with our now 3 month old baby but the pressure again started to build. It sounds silly to me now, but at the time, I’d never used Gumtree before and I foolishly didn’t realise how fast things could happen. So when I listed our old couch for sale I never anticipated that it be sold within half an hour and be gone the same night.
So when we moved into the new house, we went without a couch – the very lifeblood of a new mum. So basically in the first 4 months of being a new mum, I’d managed to move into a new, unfamiliar house, had to sit on fold-up camp chairs in an otherwise empty house while I tried to (unsuccessfully) feed my son.
It was all just too much at one time.
I remember there were days where I would shut myself in the bathroom crying on the phone to my husband while my son was in the bedroom screaming. There were other days where I would just go to the shops and wander around for hours on end just to feel like I was engaging with grown-ups. I’d sit outside waiting, counting the minutes for my husband to come home after work.
Now looking forward, I can see I still have a dream job – one that I made for myself! I also still have an amazing relationship and a beautiful home. It’s just different to what it once was. But I found my new normal and realise it’s better than I could have ever dreamed.
If I could share any advice at all from my experience with other mums struggling with their emotional wellbeing it would be to talk about how you are feeling. It doesn’t matter if it’s to your mothers group, your best friend, your GP, your partner, or your next door neighbour. It will make you realise that feeling this way is more common than you realise and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Also, for me, I found that connecting with a project, hobby or new interest really helped. For me, it was starting a new business but it could also be as simple as getting dirty and doing some gardening. Just taking the time to do something for yourself really helps.
THANK YOU so much to Laura from everyone at Gidget Foundation Australia, and on behalf of our community, for sharing your story. You can learn more about Laura and her lovely business MUMOKI here.