Did anyone see this poem by Annie Ridout?!
"I've just had a baby -
Motherhood hits you like a freight train and touches you delicately like a feather - all at once. Motherhood is heavy, intense and overpowering and yet it is gentle, soft and splendid - at the same time. You feel like you were born for this and yet like a piece of you has died.
This stunning and mighty transformation that occurs when one becomes a mother is soul-altering, life-changing but, if I'm honest, bloody lonely.
We are often weighed down by the expectation that a baby and small children will fit seamlessly into our lives. And often, they do. But sometimes, it is a process. You start to get some serious FOMO. This is a breeding ground for resentment.
I'm sure we've all been there. You're in that rocking chair, again, baby asleep in your arms. Finally, an opportunity to catch up on the happenings outside of these four walls. You unlock your phone and start to scroll. There's those photos from last weekend that you've already seen. It was an event you were meant to go to. In the end, the milk you pumped didn't get put in the fridge, the littlest babe had come down with a fever and your partner had to work late.
But tonight is different. Your friends have checked in elsewhere. And you don't remember receiving an invite.
It happens. It stings. You look down at your little one's soft head of hair and sigh with their gentle outward breath. "Who even am I now? And who's with me?"
In their defence, if you had been invited, you would have said:
"No thanks. I have to catch up on the 918 hours of sleep that I've lost over the past six months." (True story, apparently).
In your defence, you've just had a baby.
Besides the physical and practical barriers to attending social gatherings or seeing another human being face to face at all, there's also the very crucial element of postpartum that's ever so gently yet very undoubtedly ignored: you've changed.
And maybe you love this. Maybe there's a part of you who hates it. You've become THAT mum. The one who is dictated by nap times. Your search for sanity is no longer 5pm drinks but an 8:30pm bedtime and leaving the washing in the machine a day too long.
Life is simpler yet more complicated than ever. Life is slower yet your mind races.
To reach out to others is a feat seemingly only reserved for the strongest and most brave of parents. To admit to loneliness would be to admit defeat. Those hashtags you posted to accompany that baby pic are suddenly a lie.
That push-pull between wanting to be surrounded by your closest friends and not wanting to be seen with greasy, baby hair and in activewear again is strong.
Motherhood is the literal definition of ambivalence. And sacrifice beyond the normal realm.
So how can you be a friend to someone who has just had a baby? Even if you're a parent yourself, it's easy to get caught up in your own experience of parenthood and of life. But it's important to stay connected.
And if there's anything that I've learnt, it's this:
Authenticity is always the answer. Speak up about how you're going. Ask for help if you can't fit it all in. Express your loneliness. You only get one motherhood; a lifetime. Make yours yours.
I was standing in front of Parliament House in Canberra in February of this year.
It was early in the morning and my teeth were chattering from the nerves and the cold. My alarm went off at 5am but I hadn’t slept. I’d breastfed and soothed a 12 month old through the night. I was due to be on live TV any moment. I was in Canberra after being selected as a Trailblazer as part of the ABC Heywire program. It was already an epic adventure - and to have this opportunity to talk about The Postnatal Project on primetime TV was massive.
A post by @bymariandrew on Instagram struck a chord with me this week. And I've been thinking about it ever since.
Mari wrote about the different types of loneliness. Check it out here.
The thing is, loneliness is so relative. What feels lonely to one person can feel like positive solitude for another. Motherhood is no exception. And there is no weakness in struggling with loneliness.
Just so you know - this blog post contains affiliate links. However, my opinions are entirely my own. If you decide that you love my review and purchase the book using the link below, The Postnatal Project receives a commission. I use this to subsidise my group therapy sessions. Pretty cool, huh? Thanks for supporting my movement.
Feeling overwhelmed… I don’t think there would be one parent on earth who hasn’t felt this way from time to time.
Why is this such a common and shared experience?
It’s actually so simple.
We were never designed to do this alone. And by “this” I mean conceive (obviously), birth, nourish, parent, sleep with and emotionally support a child.
The Postnatal Project is 3 years old!
My first daughter was born in June of 2015. The Postnatal Project was born in January 2016.
When I think about the beginning of The Postnatal Project, it surprises me that I wasted no time in creating this space when I was in the midst of being so, so unwell. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually... I was the lowest I'd ever felt.