The transition to motherhood is something that is difficult to put into words. It is greater than the shift in role and identity and shines a spotlight on every part of you that you thought you once knew. The feelings are intense and often contradictory. And even when you are surrounded by people, it can be a lonely and confusing time. But if you too are struggling with the adjustment to this new role and identity, you are not alone, and as Emma captures in her letter, there is help and there is hope.
Emma Cottam is owner of Isabella and Us., editor and creator of the Positive Wellbeing Zine for Mums and mummy to Isabella. This letter is written from personal experience of the past year of becoming a mum, her struggles with the transition and diagnosis with PND.
To the mum who is struggling to adjust,
I’ve been there. When my daughter Isabella was born last December, just 9 days before Christmas Day I struggled to adjust to my new ‘role’. I struggled on for 5 long months without asking for any help; I struggled alone with the thoughts racing around my mind. Thoughts that my daughter didn’t need me, thoughts that I wasn’t a good enough mother, thoughts that my husband no longer loved me because he now had my daughter and didn’t need me anymore. I was embarrassed for feeling like I didn’t want to be a mum anymore and feeling guilty for feeling that way after I had longed for a baby. I spent months just going through the motions, never feeling fully present, not enjoying anything.
I want you to know feeling this way is okay. It’s nothing you have done. But I want you to know you don’t have to feel this way. People may not know just how much you are struggling and it’s okay for you to ask for help.
As my daughter turned 5 months I eventually spoke out to a friend, then my husband and my GP about how I had been feeling. As soon as I said those words ‘I need some help’ a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders. And this weight will lift for you too. Whether it is at the point of seeking help or on your road to recovery.
But during those long 5 months after my daughter was born I never once felt that I had bonded with her. I felt disconnected from her. I’d often look at my friends or other mums and see their love and undivided attention for their little ones and I didn’t even know how to talk to mine. Know that in those few months since receiving help bond will slowly started to form, you’ll be in a place where I do miss my daughter when I am not with her rather than not wanting to return home when you’d had time away.
Returning to your day job may through another rollercoaster of a ride but know that although it may trigger some of those feelings you had almost 6 months ago you’ll know where to seek help from, you’ll know that it’s okay to feel that way and you’ll know that being honest from the start will help.
Know that things will get better, even when it feels like they won’t. Know that people love you, they will be there to hold your hand all the way through this, and you just need to be honest with them. Know that the support is out there for you and that you deserve to get the support you need. You deserve everything because you have come such a long way and you are stronger than you think you are. You can get through this and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may take some time and some days the light may dim but you will get there!