I’m starting to realise that there is definitely strength in numbers.
Being a mum can be incredibly lonely. You’ve created this new life and, probably about 90% of the time (in my case 99%) you have no idea what you’re doing. You have questions: is this normal? Am I doing this right? Should my baby really breastfeed this much? (The answer is yes, your baby will breastfeed until the point you think they will actually explode).
Your life has changed beyond anything you could have imagined, and you go from being able to basically do what you want to having to plan for a quick toddle round the garden.
Katie Kirby probably puts it best in Hurrah for Gin:
…this was the point in my life where everything shifted from being all about me to it all being about somebody else. I couldn’t nip to the corner shop to buy a bag of pickled onion Monster Munch, grabbing my keys and purse on the way out; I had to relearn how to live, putting another person first. (Kirby, 53)
And she is completely and utterly right. Also, pickled onion Monster Munch are THE best crisps. Its just a fact.
It becomes so much harder, impossible even, to carry on as you were. You just can’t, and you need people to help you through the transition to mum. You’d think the whole pregnancy thing would prepare you but, despite the limitations on soft cheese and the discomfort, you can still pretty much enjoy a bit of free time. The concept of free time is null and void when the baby arrives.
This is why it is so important to find your group, people who just get it. I have a supportive husband, and I have family around. But I do think it is different for my husband, and yes my family are supportive, but they’ve also parented and they had their own way of doing it. Some things you maybe don’t want to discuss with your parents, I can think of a couple of things. Sometimes you want to say things and just not have the advice, sometimes you just need someone to say “Yeah, I completely get it.”
I was lucky enough quite early in my pregnancy to find that group. They’re strong and amazing women, who so deeply support each other. How fiercely these women will support each other is quite amazing.
I hesitated then, because I wanted to say how fiercely they will protect their own, and they do. But “their own” is any woman who needs and asks for their support. They welcome with open arms.
I believe that having these women behind me is the reason I didn’t give up on breastfeeding, and they’ve helped my confidence soar since having Pippin.
Without support networks, without a mama family motherhood can be unspeakably lonely and it really shouldn’t have to be.