Five Minutes On The Early Days Of Motherhood

I think you’ll all know by now my family grew during lockdown. It’s something I talk about a bit. Not a lot, because so much of it is none of anyone else’s business. Something I’ve only gently whispered about is just how fucking hard I found it.
There are SO MANY things that people did badly. The government’s gross mishandling being the obvious one. In my increasingly tiny world, I made mistakes, professionals made mistakes and all I could focus on was how this adult-created chaos was going to somehow destroy my child. How they’d never be happy again and it was my fault. 

When I say that my eldest is a Leo and I am a Pisces, that’s the easiest way to describe the early days of our relationship. Also pretty important to remember is that THEY WERE A BABY. A baby who was experiencing trauma upon trauma upon trauma. Imagine that? I’ve had one of the most simple, blissful lives possible and now all that was being asked of me was to care for and nurture this little absolute legend. And I couldn’t do it. Well actually, I could, and I was, but it really REALLY didn’t feel that way.

My baby cried and cried and cried and were so ANGRY. AT ME. Not anyone else. Just me. They didn’t want comfort. They just wanted to rage. And, lord, did I relate! I was furious all the time and while other people suggested that I focus my energies on the people who were actually letting us down, I decided that they were better directed towards self-disgust and a need to BE A BETTER MOTHER FOR GOODNESS SAKES.

Like everyone, I was physically cut off from any support I could potentially have used. No baby groups, no family, no friends. We didn’t have a health visitor for months (when I think about the babies who will have slipped through the net over the past few years it makes me physically shake. We should be so deeply ashamed of ourselves) Where I had previously used this space to express myself and form connections, I became secretive and stopped replying to people who would have been truly brilliant allies. My world was me and my baby and it felt utterly suffocating.

My skin was a physical reflection of my mental state. Likely exacerbated by the volume of tears and snot my face was producing at any given time. I couldn’t look at myself. I didn’t recognise myself. Hilariously, my hair went completely grey. It was due, let’s be fair, but it just added to the general sense of “WHO THE FUCK EVEN AM I?!?” 

There was absolutely no potential for a trip to the doctors. Nor do I think I was in any kind of position to be open and honest. But I wrangled a call and somehow ended up back on the good old anti-Ds. This was the first step in a long process I like to call “Not feeling like I want to run away every second of every day”. I learnt to concede to other people better. I say concede, what I ACTUALLY mean is that I learnt to let people help me. Without feeling like this made me a failure (it’s very much a work in process, trust me). 

Our family grew again, and it was nice. Genuinely nice. Adoption leave has been good for me this time, I’ve taken time for myself guilt-free and when I say that I am THE proudest mother on earth, I can’t stress that enough. My eldest is the most resilient, remarkable person I’ve ever met and I don’t say that in a ‘romantic’ way. I fucking mean it. My children are absolute rock stars and I’m lucky that I can show them this every single second I’m with them. 

This weekend, I finally spoke to someone about the early days of motherhood. A friend who has experienced pretty much every version of Emma that I have been over the past 26 years and who listened without judgement or shock because there are very few of us who have avoided the kind of transformational change which leaves us lost and completely terrified about the future. 

As much as I regret not opening up sooner, there’s definitely still a kind of emotional constipation around this time in our lives (repression anyone…?) and I’m not going to be the poster girl for talking things through any time soon. AND YET, the one thing I’m reminded, time after time, is that there is always, ALWAYS, someone who will listen. We’re never truly alone.  

So thank you to those of you who did more than you could have possibly known during my times of need and to those of you who I knew are always there, even when I’m being a ridiculously secret squirrel. You’re the goodest of good eggs x