Honour The New Mother
All of my muscles ache. I don’t recognise my body. I can’t walk properly and I have to sit down with the greatest care. Warm showers are the ultimate luxury in my life right now, to cleanse, feel human, have some time to myself, but the entire time I’m listening out for the cry of my baby and wondering if she needs me, trying to hurry that little bit faster. And when I step out of the shower, I have about a thirty second window before I start leaking from multiple places. You end up just leaning forward to let the bath mat soak up your milk as you put your maternity pad on, because leaking milk is better than having blood drip down your thighs. I get to the point of exhaustion where vision becomes blurry and my lids are impossibly heavy. But you must stay awake and aware because your baby needs that final top up before they (hopefully) go down for 3 hours. It’s amazing what your body can run off. I’ve lost so much weight and I’m scared because I’ve never been this thin. Then there’s the emotional aspects...
The shower is a luxury yet it’s also a place that has me on the floor, completely sobbing for 30 minutes straight until your fingers become pruned and you tell yourself to pull it together because your daughter needs you. The tears come because I’m tired of fighting. In the hospital I had to be a fierce warrior for 24 hours straight in that hospital bed. Fighting for my rights, for boundaries, respect, to be informed and know why I “must” be given this drug or that procedure or why they wanted to slice my stomach or cut me from the inside. It didn’t stop the entire 24 hours. Then I finally, finally come home and have to continue fighting, now to defend the space I need, we need as a family, from everyone who’s happy and excited and just want to see the baby. But the baby’s Mum and Dad are exhausted. And they want protection and safety and calm after the absolute shit show they just went through. I just want to soften. I want to be the loving, nurturing, open and compassionate mother I’m yearning to be right now. I want to lay the swords down.
I want to rest. I need nourishment just as much as my baby does, if not more. Even though I voiced my boundaries about visitors months before our girl came, it still has not been honoured. And I’m tired of fighting. It’s not what a new mother should have to do. We are all taught to be people pleasers from the youngest age, but I chose to rewrite that conditioning some time ago yet even I can’t seem to get through this one… The things that have meant the absolute most to me during this experience, are the family and friends who HAVE listened and understood and respected those boundaries, and I will always remember that because nothing means more right now than having our requests actually be heard and not questioned or pushed. This is when you wait for the invitation. We know how excited everyone is to meet the newest member in the world, and I envy that because I wish I could be happy and excited too. But the immense emotional aspects need to be processed first, as does some establishment of a routine for the new family, so I don’t get to feel the excitement of it all like the rest of you. It took 10 months for me to grow this little human, please just allow us a few weeks to ourselves.
Please ask the question “are you okay?” to the women in your life who have just become a parent. Ask the father too, because he’s supporting her, watching her go through this, and is also having sleepless nights, experiencing frustration and likely processing everything that happened in that hospital room.
Think about bringing them nourishing meals, supplies, their favourite comforts and healing items like bath soaks and an at home massage service (god I would kill for that right now), instead of flowers, baby clothes and bibs. It’s hard to know if you haven’t been through it yourself, so ask her the question, what do you need really?
There are many more aspects of this journey to explore and explain, but this should be enough to promote patience, compassion and understanding of what a new family experiences, raw and real. Be gentle with our women, as they too have also just been reborn and are learning a whole new life.