Category Archives: Birth

The Alternative Guide to Preparing for Motherhood

Parenting guides (not that I read many before I gave birth) will talk about bonding, how to change a diaper, breastfeeding, and even getting your love life back on track. However, they probably won’t mention the following things that you need to do before becoming a mother:

1. Practice feeling like a failure. At some point, you are going to feel like you’re failing as a mum. Chances are, you’re probably not, but it’ll feel like it. Do you know what first made me feel like a failure? Listening to my (then) pediatrician. We are no longer on speaking terms. Continue reading

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I had gorgeous babies…and I didn’t realize

Even before BabyBoy and BabyGirl were born, I was teetering on the edge of depression. The thought of having twins terrified me, because that wasn’t in the plan. When they arrived, healthy and perfect, I tumbled headlong down the rabbit hole of postnatal depression into denial, doubt, panic, resentment at not being ‘normal’ and wondering whether escape was an option.

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Desperately seeking an ‘out’

A long time ago (it seems) I was suffering from post-natal depression and overwhelmed by becoming a mum of twins.

And the most terrifying thing to me was the endlessness and relentlessness of parenting – that unlike a job, course, friendship….this wasn’t something that I could just quit.

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The Grandparent Files: Goldilocks and the Mama Bear

Once upon a time there were two bears: Daddy Bear and Mama Bear. They lived in little house that was not near any woods.

Mama Bear was pregnant with BabyBear 1 and BabyBear 2. The time came for Mama Bear to go to the hospital to give birth. Daddy Bear accompanied Mama Bear and stayed at the hospital with her.

While Mama Bear was in hospital Goldilocks did not appear, but Mother-in-Law Bear and Father-in-Law Bear came to the little house.

There was no porridge to eat, but there were beds to sleep in.

Being modern-day bears, Daddy Bear and Mama Bear shared one bed. It was a little bit firm and a little bit soft. In fact, as the BabyBears were to sleep in their own cots, it was just right.

(There was also a guest bed but Grandma Bear was already installed in it.)

So, just as Goldilocks had once upon a time sampled the Bears’ porridge and beds without so much as a thought, so this time did Mother-in-Law Bear decree that she would sleep in Daddy and Mama Bears’ bed. After all, it wasn’t bring used at that moment and was just right.

(Father-in-Law Bear was relegated to the sofa.)

And just like Goldilocks, Mother-in-Law Bear did not ask permission, or think that poor Mama Bear might want her bed nice and clean when she returned to the little house with the newborn BabyBears.

‘Someone’s been sleeping in my bed’ did not adequately express Mama Bear’s feelings upon finding that her bed had been used, without permission, by someone else, at a particularly vulnerable time.

The End

Mother Knows Best

When you’re faced with a squalling newborn and you have no idea why the poor thing is crying, you would be forgiven for thinking that ‘maternal instinct’ is another myth that your real life has just exploded.

But although it took me a few months I am now convinced that mother (or whoever the primary caregiver is) really does know best.

This knowledge is not, however, instinct. Maternal instinct might make you love and protect baby, but it doesn’t decode your baby’s cries or teach you how to soothe. That, I have found, comes with simply spending time with baby and learning what each of the cries mean. It’s not a physical or hormonal thing, it’s a mental, learned process. So when you give birth you don’t suddenly have all this knowledge to hand, and you shouldn’t feel inadequate if you don’t ‘just know’ what to do.

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False Expectations, Identity Crises and Denial

Reading some of the entries on this blog may give rise to the question, did I have postnatal depression?

Answer: yes. But although it’s over now (and I can truly say I am a happy mummy) the question remains, why?

Granted, I did have some of the risk factors associated with PND. These seem to vary from doctor to doctor but have been known to include: multiple pregnancy (hello me!), difficult delivery, type A personality, pregnancy following ART / previous miscarriage, history of depression, lack of support network, unplanned pregnancy, financial worries, overbearing relatives (hello grandparents), domestic abuse etc etc.

However, I think one of the biggest factors in my personal PND (in my non-medical opinion) was false expectations of parenthood.

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