Perhaps I didn’t notice it with my first baby, the vulnerability that comes with new motherhood. Maybe I was so vulnerable myself that I was blind to it. Or just so focussed on my baby and the unknown path that lay ahead that I couldn’t recognise it. But with the birth of my second baby, my eyes were opened to the raw and real vulnerability that comes with having a baby.
For each night of my four night stay in hospital I would take my baby to the nursery for her evening feeds. The company and support of the midwives was preferable to sitting in my hospital room trying not to disturb my husband, knowing that if I couldn’t settle the baby that I would need to wake him to walk the halls with baby so I could rest. For me, the nursery was a place of comfort, bright lights to stop me falling asleep and an answer to any loneliness the creeps into the dark of night. And it was during these nights that the vulnerability was so evident to me.
I saw first time mums, eyes filled with tears, exhaustion and fear desperate for help with their sore nipples from feeding their baby. I heard them ask the midwives the same questions. Why is he feeding so much? Do I have enough milk? Why does it hurt so much?
I saw second time mums, grappling with the same problems, only this time they were truly aware of the sleep deprivation that lay ahead. The vulnerability isn’t related to the unknowns of motherhood but of being a mum of two. The vulnerability is mixed with guilt at being away from their firstborn. It is mixed with the fear of being able to manage two kids. They know what life with one is like, but how does life change with two?
I saw mums crippled with the agony of afterbirth pains. C-section mums, needing help to stand up from their chair. Mums who never seemed to stop between feeding and expressing to build their milk supply. And for each of these mums, I just wanted to reach out and hug them. And to tell them that they are not alone. But in my own vulnerable state, I couldn’t. Who was I to tell them that everything will be ok when I am filled with my own fears and worries?
I was a confident mum of one, but what would I be as a mum of two? With my first, I was itching to get home from hospital. From day one we were out and about, slowly building up to bigger outings. But this time, I was apprehensive about walking out the hospital doors, unsure if I was ready to face our new reality as a family of four. Despite my fears, I have focussed on being kind to myself. Doing what I need to, to make life work for our family. Slow mornings; reading books on the couch with my toddler while breastfeeding my baby; enjoying the peaceful quiet of a sleeping baby.
And slowly, the vulnerability is fading. It will never completely go away, I’m only human after all. If this is you, struggling with opening yourself up to the new role thrust upon you, know that it will be ok. Know that each phase will have a beginning and an end. Know that you are enough. Know that you are more than enough, you are an amazing woman who has brought new life into this world. It might not seem like it today, but everything will be ok.
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