Monday, 11 May 2015

There is no way to be a Perfect Mother....

.... but there are a million ways to be a good one.

On the Bank Holiday weekend in May 2015, I was watching with one eye on the news as we heard that Princess Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge had gone into labour.  It was great news when we heard that Princess Charlotte had been born on May 2nd.  As the 24 hour news channels made way for the story and gave it almost wall to wall coverage despite there being only 5 days left before a General Election, I had a sinking feeling.  A sinking feeling for Kate...  Not only did she have to go through pregnancy in the public eye, but also battle hyperemesisand now even after the great news that she had safely given birth the media were still camped on her doorstep.

I was amazed then, but not entirely surprised, when she appeared outside the Lindo Wing looking like she had just stepped out of a Spa Hotel after a weekend of pampering instead of a woman who had given birth a mere 10 hours ago.  At first I felt sorry.  Sorry that her first hours with Charlotte and William had been marred by the constant pressure to appear in public, conscious that when she did appear in public she would have to be, well, PERFECT.  Imagine the scene, Kate appears on the steps of the Lindo Wing in winceyette PJs, in her Ugg boots.  Hair scraped back, with a slightly crazed look in her eye she leans against William who is carrying Charlotte - because after pushing out an 8lb baby who has the strength to carry one! Sounds more like you & I right?  But would Kate have wanted to face the media like that?  Now, I am not daft.  I know that Kate knew when she married into the Royal Family she knew that with it came a degree of celebrity; and that her life would be played out on the world's stage; but surely she could have been allowed more than 10 hours of peace!??  

Once my indignation on the part of Kate, William and Baby Charlotte passed I had a far more sobering thought.

What about all the other women who had just given birth that day?

In fact, what about just about everyone else who has ever, or will ever give birth?  What about the women who were tired, sore and generally feeling like they had been knocked sideways?  The women who have that scraped back hair, the winceyette pjs and the crazed look.  The women who, with their bodies a sea of raging pregnancy hormones, often feel like everyone else is coping better than them; even though if they just talked about it they would see that other mothers feel exactly the same.  Confronted with the fairy-tale image of Kate, William and Charlotte it's no wonder we feel inadequate.  None of this is their fault though, Kate will have had a veritable army of people traipsing into her delivery room doing her hair and her make up to create the image that society demands.... and the media will be peddling the myth that motherhood is easy.

You're never really ready to have a baby, never "grown-up enough", "financially secure enough" or "prepared enough"  Having a baby is a game -changer; it's life shattering (in a good way!) and the pieces that go back together all fit slightly differently than before.  The responsibility of having a newborn who is entirely dependent upon you is huge; not only that but society heaps a load more pressure on top of new mums.  There are loads of dos and do nots, and must haves; and as new mums we must process all this information through the fog of sleep deprivation and while pondering the mystery of why our bodies haven't snapped back to our pre-pregnancy shape! I am sure it's not just women who feel like this either, I am sure that William would have loved for Kate to have had a few more hours rest before they felt they "had" to face the world.  I am sure that new Dads the world over are plagued with the same doubts as new Mums.

I don't mind telling you that for me, motherhood is not effortless.  It's the best, most rewarding job  job I have EVER had, but my goodness it's the hardest. 

In the Crummy household, we are survivors.  We've come out of the other side of Post Natal Depression. I say "we" because although I was the one diagnosed with PND, and while it was me living with the guilt, the self-doubt and the feeling that I wasn't doing this very well, my wee family were also affected. I was one of the lucky ones.  I had a great support network of friends who I was able to confide in, a supportive family and a husband who looked after me.  I had a midwife, Health Visitor and GP who understood what was happening, and who helped me overcome it.  Without that support I can't say what would have happened.  I may have overcome it myself, I may not.  I can say one thing for sure that talking about your feelings, your fears and worries helps.  You know you are not alone, you discover that other people are feeling or have felt the same way.  You work out what are normal post-natal feelings and what any be a cause for concern.  For me it was the control thing.... I am organised, a wee bit OCD and I like to be in control of my life.  Let me tell you,  with 2 children I have had to re-think my definition of "organised" and "control".  It is MUCH easier now Miss Bags and the Wilburbeast are older, but you try telling a sleeping newborn at 3am that its time for a feed (which you have dutifully set your alarm for, but the wee toerag hasn't stirred!), or that pooing as soon as your nappy is off is not the way we do things here!!

So, to the all the Mums reading this (and Dads too, because PND doesn't just affect women), if you need help - ask,. if you're worried or overwhelmed - talk to someone. Let's all be honest about how difficult being a parent can be.... .  Everyone struggles, but at least we have the luxury of hunkering down in yesterday's clothes, with a giant bar of Dairy Milk, cuddling our children and watching TV in private.

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