The Baby Blues

Fern Godfrey

Writing this post has been hugely emotional for me – I’ve felt bucket loads of guilt, shed a lot of tears and even felt ashamed of myself. When so many people go through difficult things on a daily basis with sick babies, even losing babies, I questioned whether I should even write the post at all. But I want to share my experience so that anyone else feeling this way doesn’t feel so alone. Being a first time Mum to a newborn can be a terrifying thing.

Yesterday, I held a friend’s six day old baby and realised that I have almost no recollection of Elle being that tiny. It made my heart ache with sadness as I realised that there are literally months of her existence that I can’t access in my mind.

Elle was born in January 2015, following a very happy and healthy pregnancy and a practically text book labour. The last emotion I actually remember feeling was a huge rush of relief. Perhaps selfishly, relief that the pain was over. Then relief that Elle’s cries meant she was alive, breathing and full of spirit. And then there was nothing.

I didn’t have an initial rush of love that people talk about, no uncontrollable tears of joy. I didn’t feel any pain or soreness. I just felt nothing. When the midwife visited the following day, she warned me that I might be feeling teary – and I was – but it was because I still felt nothing and by this point I was questioning whether my lack of feelings was normal. All I felt was total emptiness – as if my body was just skin, bones and tissue with no nerves or thoughts or feelings. If someone had pushed me too hard I would have just collapsed, and worse still – I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

There was also a disconnect somewhere in my brain – this baby wasn’t mine, I was just looking after her for someone else. Every minute of every day for a long, long time I felt like I was just going through the motions and that someone would come and collect her, return her to her rightful owner.

As the numbness slowly ebbed away it was replaced with a huge, overwhelming feeling of sadness – like a dark cloud over my brain that just wouldn’t lift and all I could do was cry. I think I cried solidly for about six weeks. And then following that I cried at least daily for a good few months.

With the tears came the guilt – what kind of person thinks that their child isn’t theirs? How could I possibly be so selfish and self indulgent when there are people desperate to have children or those who have lost their babies? How can anyone not feel any emotions towards their baby? At my lowest point I just wanted someone to take Elle away from me, so I could sleep. All I wanted to do was lie in a dark room. Going outside and being with people made me feel vulnerable, raw and exposed. Thank goodness for the dog, who literally forced me to get outside and slowly, this became my refuge.

As the months rolled on and my body and mind slowly started to recover, the fog started to lift. It was a gradual process – there’s no moment that I can look back at and think ‘that’s when I realised I loved my baby.’ A slow burning love began to unfold, a deep, soul changing love that only a parent can understand. And now I can’t believe that I ever felt that way about my little girl. She’s the most beautiful and lovely soul I’ve ever known and I’m eternally thankful that she’s mine.

Having written this down, it’s clear to me that I should have spoken to someone about my feelings. But when asked ‘Is everything ok?’ Yes was a much simpler response than ‘No – I’m not sure that I love my baby yet.’ And behind the scenes was Matt, who knows me better than I know myself, and was watching me with care and patience, just in case I didn’t find the strength to pull myself from the hole I was in.

If you’re recovering from having a baby – please be kind to yourself and please talk to someone if you’re feeling low. Growing a human is tough, it takes a huge amount out of you – much more than you realise. You can feel it physically, but sometimes the mental changes go unnoticed and they can easily spiral out of control. Those first few weeks and months are tough, and it’s ok to not enjoy it. It doesn’t make you a bad person, and it definitely doesn’t make you a bad Mummy.

(Image of Elle taken by Anna Clarke – she’s around 6 months here)

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Fern lives by the sea with her baby girl Elle, her partner Matt and their little dog Drake. They spend most of their time at the beach, and if you see one of them, usually the other three aren’t far behind.

46 Comments. Leave new

Thank you Fern for being so brave to be open and honest. I absolutely understand what you went through – it was like reading my story. The first year of my son’s life was a black hole and mostly I felt horrendous for not loving motherhood. A few years on I adore my son more than anything and mostly feel sad that the first year I was so lost. Like you I couldn’t tell anyone – its such a big social taboo and I didn’t really even know how to express it. All my friends were making lovely memories, taking happy cute family photos, doing sentimental things – and I just felt like I was having to survive one day to the next. I was always a naturally maternal person so couldn’t understand why I felt that way – I guess hormones are a crazy thing. And in a strange way I was grieving, I had felt so close to my baby when he was a bump, chatting to him all day long, that when I didn’t connect immediately with him when he was born I almost felt like I had lost ‘bump’ – not sure if that makes sense?? Anyway as you say time passed, things got easier and gradually the fog lifted. I too really wish looking back I had just thought to speak to someone. x

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Oh LJ that absolutely makes sense to me – I’ve always been very maternal too and actually really liked being pregnant, I felt special and really connected to my baby. I think there’s definitely something in grieving the bump. I’ve also discussed with Matt the feeling of emptiness, you do literally go from being physically ‘full’ to being ’empty’ in such a rush that perhaps that effects you mentally as well?

Thanks for commenting, it was a very lonely place. I’m so glad you’re out of it now too 🙂 x

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Oh Fern, I’m so glad I’m working from home today because your post has me so emotional! What you’ve written is SO important because people don’t talk about it enough! You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about – no one would ever, ever ‘choose’ to have something like PND/baby blues, just like people don’t choose to get pneumonia. I’m so glad you managed to pull yourself out and that you had a supportive network around you. Elle is just beautiful x

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Thanks for your lovely comment Kate – I was nervous about it going live this morning.

I think part of the problem is that no one addresses the grey area between PND and the baby blues. It’s like you either need to take medication, or you’re a bit weepy for a day – they are two extremes and in reality it’s not really like that for most people.

Matt was great, as were my NCT girls – and lovely Lottie and Lorna were always at the end of the phone too which helped x

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I love this honesty! I had a similar experience when my daughter was born in March. I went in to hospital to be induced and was so excited to meet her and I left a week later literally feeling nothing. Completely shell shocked and nothing. I’ve always wondered if the week we spent in hospital played a part – I literally slept for 2 hours a day for a week there. When I was told we’d have to stay in for another couple of days to monitor Juliet I actually toyed with asking if I could go home and leave her there! I can only say that now because it’s so different to how I feel that it’s almost funny.. But at the time I had a constant whispering in my head where I asked myself what I’d done to my life.

It took weeks and weeks for me to start to feel a connection with Juliet and months before the love I feel for her now developed.

If anyone is going through something similar these are the things that helped me. Firstly, I was honest about how I felt to my husband, select friends and the wonderful health visitor I was lucky to have. I was so scared by how I felt I had to tell people because I didn’t want it to develop in to full blown post natal depression and no one to be looking out for me and Juliet. Secondly, I read something on the internet that said its normal not to feel an immediate bond with your baby. Every other relationship in your life takes time to develop and the relationship with your child could be similar.

And finally, when I look back on it now I was still fiercely protective of Juliet when she was born and did everything I could to look after her so although I didn’t feel the rush of love when she was born that you hear so often about and although I found those early days extremely difficult I still think my maternal instinct kicked in immediately so perhaps I wasn’t such a monster after all..

So many people have had this experience that it’s really important for it to be represented on sites like this.

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Morning Jennifer!

We left hospital really quickly after Elle was born and ended up back in as she had jaundice – I’ve always wondered if we’d just stayed put whether things would have been easier. Once we were back there I didn’t want to leave – everyone was so kind, people brought you food and we were on the childrens ward and it just felt so homely.

Thanks for sharing the things that helped you – the comment about it being a developing relationship is a really good point.

And you’re definitely not a monster, your love for little Juliet is clear to all of us! x

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So beautifully put. This isn’t something I have direct experience of but it is something that I can utterly relate to. It always makes me feel quite cross when I hear well meaning people telling ‘mum’s to be’ how much they will love this little baby, “you’ve never felt love like it” or “nothing compares to that first moment you hold your new baby”. And it’s true and lovely that it is the case for lots of women BUT it does set up unrealistic expectations and add pressure (at lets face it a time when you could do without it!) to how you ‘should’ feel after birth.
It’s really difficult becoming a parent, my overwhelming feeling was sheer terror for the first few weeks. I was so scared that I’d do something wrong or not do something I was supposed to that I think I kind of just froze! I didn’t want to hurt his little arms when getting him dressed and I realise that soft spot on their head is functional but seriously…a soft bit on their head!!!!
It’s lovely to hear that you are through it and enjoying being a mummy, I’m sure your story will be a very familiar one to so many women and will help them through too! x

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Thank you Amy – your comment is really kind.

And oh my goodness yes – the terror of bathing those little arms and that little body for time!!! They are like slippery little fish x

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What a heart breaking post. Very honest and well written and helps to shine a light on a taboo subject. I’m so glad to hear that things have improved for you

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Thank you Laura x

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Thank you for sharing your experience so honestly Fern. I am due my first baby in the new year and am worried about baby blues and PND, since my mum suffered from them with my brother and I, and I’ve had quite a teary, emotional pregnancy despite being physically healthy. I think not only is it very important to talk about mental health when our babies arrive, but also during pregnancy as I was wholly unprepared to feel so overwhelmed.
I’ve not felt in control of my emotions over the past few months, in fact I’ve not felt like myself at all. I’ve struggled to get motivated about things I usually love and I feel like my spark and drive for life as gone. I’ve spoken to my husband about it but not felt comfortable to share my feelings with anyone else.
I’m so excited to meet my baby and have to admit that one of the reasons is that the pregnancy will be over and I can move on with the next chapter of our new lives together.

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My reply has shown below for some reason Hannah x

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Fern, thank you for being so brave and highlighting a subject that we rarely talk about. I gave birth in April this year and whilst I had a great pregnancy my labour and months following it were very difficult. As women I think we should support one another and not be so quick to judge, then people might feel less guilty about talking about their true feelings. I found it really hard to talk to people about how I was feeling. I am so glad you are enjoying motherhood and I’m sure you are doing a fantastic job x

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I agree – it’s actually the guilt and fear of being judged that makes you keep quiet. It’s so sad.

I hated the newborn days and the thought of having to go through that again really made me question whether I’d want to have another baby. I had friends who were immediately broody and I just couldn’t understand it!

Thank you, I’m sure you are too!! x

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What a beautifully written post and so similar to what I experienced. I had a horrible labour experience and then couldn’t breastfeed properly so had a hideous first few months expressing and generally beating myself up about it. I said to my husband a couple of weeks after my son was born ‘I just wish he was back inside me for a few more weeks’. However, when people asked, it was just so much easier to say everything was ok and when I took the post-natal ‘quiz’ that the health visitor brought round, I lied on it to make sure I wasn’t flagged up. I threw myself into going out with friends every day of the week just so I wasn’t on my own with my son even though it was a massive struggle to even get out the house.

As you say, I couldn’t tell you when that ‘fog’ started to lift but I think around 4 months. He started to sleep really badly and I took him into our bed more and more around that time and that seemed somehow to help our relationship. I now love him more than life itself but am sad I missed those precious first few weeks and hope that when we eventually have another one I’ll be able to realise those signs and seek help rather than hiding it.

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Hi Laura,

Your experience does sound very similar to mine – we too had breastfeeding issues and I think I missed out on some proper skin to skin time because I was so sore from feeding and because I was expressing like a machine. As I mentioned to Hannah above, I hated the newborn stage and it made me question whether I even wanted to have another child (I had previously wanted four HA!)

It’s funny how just going for a coffee with friends and their babies is so daunting – it took me weeks to see my NCT friends babies because I just couldn’t face leaving the house.

I’m so glad things are better for you now and totally agree that next time round we’ll be better prepared to deal with how we feel.

Thank you for commenting x

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Thanks for sharing your experience too Hannah. The whole process, from those first few tentative weeks of pregnancy to your baby reaching one is a hugely emotional journey. I don’t think enough is said about the impact of changing hormones on your body – for some people those imbalances are huge and really do change your mental wellbeing.

It sounds like you are aware of where you’re at though, which is a good thing. I didn’t share my feelings with anyone apart from Matt either, and even then I didn’t tell him every dark thought I was having, he just knew. I’m glad you’ve got the support of your husband, you’ll get through it together and be such a strong unit as a result 🙂

I know everyone says it – but please do take care of yourself, be kind to yourself and try to remember that you will get yourself back – I promise.

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, keep us updated and if you need someone to talk to about things feel free to contact me – sometimes it’s easier to offload honestly to a distant person x

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Thank you Fern, that’s really kind. I’m so glad to hear you came out the other side. Us girls are stronger than we often give ourselves credit for, but it’s important to be gentle on ourselves too and seek/accept help when we need it.

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True, we are strong – I didn’t realise how strong until I had a baby, it’s an incredible thing x

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Such a well written post Fern. It really does take some people time to get to know their baby, I was definitely one of those people. I remember looking at my husband holding her for the first time in the hospital and he was so full of love and I just felt a bit numb. I think labour can be a huge shock to the system, especially when things don’t go to plan and you need time to mentally heal from that. Now I couldn’t love my little girl more, she is my best friend and we make a good team.

Hannah, your post struck a chord with me as my mum suffered terribly with PND after having us. I was really worried that I would be the same and this worry grew when I didn’t feel on top of the world straight after having her. I would say talk to people about your fears, my health visitor was wonderful. In my area they visit before you’ve had the baby and I explained about my mum and said that I was worried. She was very reassuring but also kept a close eye on me after the birth and gave my husband some tips on what to look for as early signs of PND. Just knowing other people were looking out for me helped me relax. Luckily I didn’t suffer at all other than being a bit teary for the first few weeks which I think is normal. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and meeting your little one.

Xxxx

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I had that moment too SD! Elle was cuddled up on Matt’s chest and I had to deliver the placenta (love how everyone forgets to tell you about that bit…) and then went off to have a bath and left them to cuddle. I almost felt like I wasn’t needed anymore, which is ridiculous looking back now.

Your health visitor sounds great and mine was too – I just wish I’d had the courage and confidence to say something. I just felt like a shy little girl for a lot of the time when there were ‘professionals’ around, which again is totally silly x

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Thank you for this really interesting post. My baby boy is now 3 months and I love him to pieces. However, he was born by emergency c section and I was under general. This meant that I wasn’t mentally present at his birth, and I have no memory of meeting him for the first time. I think this led to some really odd ‘disconnected’ feelings at first. Really, he could have been any baby at all! People tell you about this rush of love, but I’ve found it to be much more gradual. I’ve also found it grows as he develops and turns into a proper little person. No one can really describe how hard it is being at home with a new born – but he is worth it all! It definitely gets easier, and my husband and I have been very grateful for all the support we have received. You can’t do it alone!

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Hi Kerri,

The funny thing is I had a totally trauma free birth so I’m not sure where my feelings came from.

I’m so glad you’ve said it gets easier – because it really does!! So many people, including total strangers would say to me ‘ohhh it only gets harder’ and I just wanted to punch them in the face then crawl off to a hole and bury myself because I thought if I can’t cope now – how on earth will I cope if it gets harder?!

As you get to know your baby it definitely gets better and more rewarding and now, like you I love my little one to pieces.

I hope you’re recovering well from your c-section x

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This is exactly what happened to me. When I first held my son the fog decended. All I could think about was different ways I could get myself out of the situation I was in. I cried every day. I resented my little boy for making me feel so sad. A few things happended when he was about 6 weeks old. I don’t know which came first but I remember having him sitting on my lap and he just looked at me and smiled and it was the first time I told him I loved him and I cried happy tears for the first time. The other was out on one of my daily walks (the only way he would sleep) listening to the radio and hearing Katy Perry ‘Roar’. Whilst not my favourite song the line ‘I am a champion and you’re going to hear me roar’ just seem to make something click in my brain (sounds corny I know) but I started to get my confidence back. I also stopped breast feeding around this time as well. He’s now 2 and he’s the cutest, cheekiest and most brilliant little dude I know. I think the hardest thing about the baby blues is not knowing how long it will last or how you can start to feel better. My family and husband were fantastic, and whilst there wasn’t anything they could say that made me feel better, knowing that they were around and helping look after my son made it possible for me to come out the other side of the fog.

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Not corny at all Liz – I think music and fresh air are great things for helping us change our moods/outlook. You’re right – it’s so difficult when you don’t know when you’re going to feel normal again.

I’m so glad you had your husband and family there to support you – your little boy sounds like a sweetie x

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This was such a brave piece to write Fern. When my son was born he was nearly 7 weeks early and I basically went in to shock. I went from being at work in the morning to having my baby by that night, and can totally relate to the empty feeling afterwards. I had a very easy pregnancy up until that point, and had bonded with my baby bump massively (I unexpectedly loved being pregnant, having never thought of myself as a maternal person) and felt robbed of the last part of my pregnancy, the preparation I had planned on the first few weeks of maternity leave etc….

I panicked throughout the birth he might not make it, and felt slightly disconnected through his hospital stay. When we got him home, I fell apart. I was in a permanent state of anxiety about his health (he was small but didn’t actually have health problems). I loved him, but felt that I didn’t deserve to have him – that I wasn’t good enough or worthy of having a baby, especially one so small who needed me so much. I would sit doing night feeds wondering if i could just leave the house in the dead of night and never come back – I just wanted some sleep, and to be alone for a few days. I felt quite lonely and very cut off from my old life.

I cried all the time, and did try to talk to health visitors/doctors but was routinely told it was normal to feel how I felt after the experience we had had. I didn’t feel normal, but my confidence was so shot to pieces (I never have quite recovered) that I didn’t have the strength to argue. I was lucky to meet a nice group of girls at my local baby group, one of which suffered from PND and went on antidepressants. It helped me feel less alone, and gave me a regular reason to get up and leave the house. My mum and my husband were also a huge support. My mum would come regularly so I didn’t have to be alone too much.

I am worried about having another baby, as I never want to feel that way again, but I am hoping that I can be more assertive next time around if it happens, and have asked that my husband make an appointment for me and accompany me down there if I am not capable of doing it.

My little boy is two now, and the best thing in my life – and I have learnt to trust myself and believe in myself as a parent. It is something I have to work on everyday but I never really feel low any more and the fact he is happy & healthy gives me the strength to believe I am a deserving and good mum.

Sorry for the long post!

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Hi Sarah,

THANK YOU for sharing your story too – I think having your baby prematurely adds a whole other layer of emotions/hormones to the mix and I’m in awe of any parents who get through that difficult time. It’s a shock to the system anyway, let alone it happening so much sooner than you’re expecting.

An NCT friend of mine had her baby early too and spent most of the first few months in the baby unit at our hospital. When we met up for the first time after she was allowed out with her little one I was just so amazed by how strong she was. I know that she internalised a lot of feelings and her little one turned one recently, which was a hugely emotional time for her – I don’t think she had accessed a lot of her feelings from that time yet.

I’m sad at the Doctors and HVs response 🙁 but so glad that you found people to talk to and your family sound great. It’s being alone that’s the hardest part, when the health visitor and breast feeding support lady came round I didn’t want them to leave!

It sounds like you are doing a fabulous job and well done you for overcoming it all for yourself AND growing a happy and healthy boy x

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I rarely leave comments but this really struck a cord with me. You have literally written the first 5 months of my little boys life. I kind of knew I didn’t have PND but was reluctant like discuss my feelings with the HV as I didn’t want a rush or wrong diagnosis. My husband and my mum were amazing to talk to and am so glad I went with my gut with regards to HV. The only thing is now when people say are you having another one I start to think will I love a second one more straight after giving birth and then feel gut wrenchingly guilty or will it happen again or will I be even worse etc. etc. All these blinking feelings!!!!!

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Oh Lauren even if you did have another one and loved him/her straight away it wouldn’t mean that you aren’t a fabulous and loving mum to your little boy, these feelings are out of our control.

I worry about getting it badly again though too – so much so that I’ve thought about just having one child, but I know that deep down I will want more at some point x

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Thanks so much for posting this Fern. I loved being pregnant and had a low risk pregnancy. I was terrified of giving birth, I didn’t tell anyone and just worried about it alone. Turns out though that giving birth was fine and again went pretty smoothly. I did have an immediate love for my little babe but it was so strong that it made me incredibly anxious. I would picture mad things such as me falling down the stairs whilst carrying her. I became teary and panicked when other people including my husband held her. It was so extreme. I then had a really tough time with breastfeeding and adjusting to my new life. I remember times just thinking that I wish I could pass her over to someone else and I could have my old life back and not be responsible for a little human. Some days though I would be totally fine and then other days I would be incredibly low and I couldn’t tell you why. There was never a specific event or reason. I only told my husband my darkest thoughts and his support was incredible. Like you I can’t say when this changed. I have become less anxious, I enjoy seeing friends and family hold her and although I do miss parts of my old lifestyle I wouldn’t change a thing. She really is the best. Our little lady is approaching 4 months and it still can be tough on days. But I think we carried and developed these little humans for 9 months and that with the hormones and massive life style change it may take as many months or more to adjust. I’m not sure anyone can actually prepare for being a mum and I don’t think there is enough communication around PND or PNA but it’s a subject which is really important so thanks again. It is incredibly comforting reading yours and other RMF readers stories.

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Hi Kate,

Thank you for sharing your experience too. It’s definitely comforting to read other people’s stories and hopefully anyone reading these comments who is there right now will feel less alone.

Don’t worry about still having tough days at 4 months – it took until 9/10 months for me to actually feel completely like myself again and even now I’m sure that you can’t ever be the same person again – it’s a life changing thing…but definitely for the better once you’re through the tough times. And you’re right, nothing can prepare you for it.

I have moments of crippling anxiety too, it tends to be when I’m watching the news and I think ‘why I have brought a child into such a horrible world’ …more often than not I have to turn it off because it makes me too worried x

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I have had a similar experience to you. I did feel love for my son straight away, but my feelings weren’t what I expected. My love for him was (and is) so overwhelming I felt sick when anyone else would hold him. I would dread visitors because they would pass him around and I would just want him back. I regularly wake in the night convinced he’s not breathing. He’s four months now and I’m getting better, I can cope more with people holding him and spending time with him, but I still have moments. I’m going for my first night out next week and I’m dreading it, but I know I need to let my husband have time with him. My husband is great and very understanding.

Now we are thinking about weaning and the thought that anyone other than me will be feeding him makes me feel so upset, and even angry. Which is so ridiculous?!? He had to be readmitted into hospital because he wasn’t feeding properly and ended up being tube fed because he was losing weight and dehydrated. We then had to mix feed to keep his weight up but I was so set on breastfeeding it devastated me, particularly when my MIL took him off me and started bottle feeding him at one day old. We got him off bottles Within a week and breastfeeding soon Was established which we both still really enjoy. I guess this is where it’s come from.

I guess my long rambling post is saying, you have no idea how you’re going to feel when you have your baby, and your feelings can really knock you for 6. I also really didn’t enjoy the newborn phase and I hate it when people say ‘enjoy every minute’- it’s absolutely fine not to!!

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I think it’s totally normal for you to be that anxious – you’ve been able to protect them inside you for 9 months and then suddenly they are out in the big wide world! It’s scary for us (and for them too for that matter)!

We had difficulties with feeding too and when Elle was back in hospital for jaundice she was tube fed as they were concerned about her sugar levels – we had to combi feed for a little while and then went back to fully breastfeeding – it was an absolute mission so feeding twice, breast then bottle, and then expressing when Elle slept, so I can completely emphasise with you. And that battle is definitely why you’ll be feeling that way about weaning, I’m in no rush to stop breastfeeding Elle as it took some serious blood, sweat and tears to get it going in the first place!!!

But once you come to terms with weaning it is lots of fun and seeing them try new and tasty things is just as rewarding as feeding them, I promise.

Enjoy every minute is very silly to be honest and impossible. No one is perfect, no one is a machine and we all have our moments x

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Thank you, fern. It’s nice to hear from someone whose had similar experiences and it’s lovely to have a forum where mums can discuss how they have found motherhood honestly!

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Hi Anna, I just wanted to say you’re not alone in your feelings about feeding at all! I was very lucky I didn’t ever feel low or anything after having my baby and breastfeeding went pretty well from the start and I felt such an overwhelmingly strong attachment to my daughter and feeding her that I couldn’t bare the thought of anyone else doing it!! My mum kept suggesting I express and get her used to a bottle but it genuinely made me want to cry watching my husband try to give her a bottle at 4 months! Feeding her was MY job! Ultimately she wasn’t really interested in the bottle and I never pushed it so ended up breastfeeding a lot longer than originally planned but I never felt I could admit to anyone my feelings about other people feeding her, I’ve always kept it to myself in case people think I’m weird or an obsessive mother! You can’t help how you feel though and it’s natural I think, so if you want to keep breastfeeding you do it as long as you want! X

Fern,

What a wonderfully brave and honest post. I didn’t feel the same kind of disconnect that you and others have described but while my baby boy was wrapped on my chest while I delivered the placenta I do remember feeling nothing. I didn’t cry, there was no overwhelming joy and in the subsequent weeks I know when people asked “do you love him more than anything?” I replied with “I don’t know him yet”. He was mine and I cared for him but I didn’t know him so how was I meant to love him unconditionally. There was no fog over our bond but it did take a month or so for me to love him more than just care for him. I would definitely say that birth is able to completely stun your body and brain making emotions difficult and that it’s only as Spencer has become his own person I’ve grown to love him.

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This is a really interesting perspective Claire thank you! It’s given me lots of food for thought. The whole area is something I’m really interested in now and I’d love to know more about the chemical changes to your mind and body over the course of growing and then delivering a baby. It’s fascinating x

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Fern,
Thank you for posting such an honest article. There are so many ‘it’s the best feeling in the world’, comments around when you are pregnant, when you don’t quite feel like that once your baby arrives it can be very lonely. Our baby was very ill when she was born with a strep b infection and spent two weeks in NICU in a specialist hospital whilst I had to stay in the hospital I’d given birth in for a week. Our first cuddle didn’t happen until day 7 and honestly I think I was just so devistated looking at this poorly bundle covered in wires I didn’t have any room for any other emotions. Perhaps it was the separation that put a delay on that bonding feeling but when she was so ill, the fact that I felt like I was looking at someone else’s baby filled me with guilt. Of course I wanted her to get better, I fed her and cared for her but I don’t think I loved her. Not yet.
Once we got out of hospital I really struggled. Of course I was (and am) so grateful that we got to bring our little girl home when many others in the same situation are not so lucky, however I felt desperately sad at the moments I had lost and how unfair it all was. We also have to have check ups to check in her development which prey on my mind a lot, although so far she is far exceeding all expectations and hitting all her milestones and some!
Six months on I’m feeling much better although still have really low days every couple of weeks where I question myself as a mother and feel hugely guilty for letting this little girl down so badly at the beginning of her life. As the infection is contracted from the mother through birth there is a whole load of guilt that I am learning to manage.
I’m glad you wrote above that it took 10 months or so to feel normal as 6 months down the line I feel as if I should be there by now!
We need to talk about these things. It’s not all wonderful all the time. But a lot of the time it sure is ?

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Oh my goodness Rachel my heart goes out to you – no wonder you’ve had low moments, being in a different hospital is a very difficult situation in any circumstance, let alone when it involves you having just given birth and being away from your baby.

I know people will have told you it’s not your fault and deep down you know that – but it’s hard to not let those feelings of guilt take over when you’re sleep deprived and looking after a tiny helpless human being.

I’m so happy to hear your little one is doing well and thank you for ending your comment on a positive note – motherhood is an amazing thing x

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Well done Fern, for being so honest and writing such a beautiful, raw article and breaking the taboo. It’s just ‘expected’ that you *must* love your baby the second you see them but the reality can be very different. I often felt like I was drowning. I’d forget just the very basic things. I was in hospital and they’d say ‘have you fed him yet?’ It hadn’t even crossed my mind and then the guilt kicks in. I should know this, I should be able to do this.

I love my son more than anything in this world but I thought just this morning after I left him for the day to go to work. I could just leave, if I just got on a train and never came back he’d never even remember me. The smile and pure excitement on his face when I got back home reassured me that yes he does love me and I would never leave him. But the guilt of these thoughts hits you like a ton of bricks.

I saw you in your dark days and I know they weren’t as dark as you remember them. I saw you struggle to feed your little girl and stroke her hair and obsess about her every detail. I saw you try to pretend you hadn’t been crying all day. It might not have ‘felt’ like love at the time but believe me it was there. Those dark days must have been so awful but you are out the other side and you have faced it and won! Believe me you are an AMAZING mummy and doing a wonderful job raising a lovely little girl. Never forget that. Xx

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Aw Alice this has me in floods of tears. Thank you for being such a lovely friend. I honestly couldn’t have got through those days without your support and understanding – I think often you knew where I was without me saying anything at all. I’m going to miss you and P so much x

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So much courage for you to have written this and so many points that need to be made. You really got me with the need for nuance between “a bit weepy” and “drugs drugs drugs” as responses from care professionals. There is a vast and varied spectrum of feelings and experiences, all of which are important to respect and support.

For me, it’s a previous commenter that shares my problem- anxiety. I would lie awake watching her breathe, convinced if I slept she would stop. I was so terrified of SIDS, it was an obsession. I was scared walking downstairs, frightened in the car (what if her head tipped forward and cut her breathing off?) and so on. I also had regular nightmares involving her drowning which were horrific. Its much better now but I remain easily spooked- it’s a real dark side of love.

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Hi Lucy,

I love your line – There is a vast and varied spectrum of feelings and experiences, all of which are important to respect and support – it’s so true. We’re all different but the current approach/support for post natal care can be so generic. None of my NCT lot were asked how we were at our 8/12 week review 🙁 they just checked the baby and sent us off on our merry ways.

It can be crippling can’t it, I think if you suffer from anxiety or intrusive thoughts it can get much worse when you have a baby x

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Hi Fern,
I had to comment on this even though I’m neither pregnant nor a mum (The Rock My brand is just too addictive….!). I hope one day my partner and I will be lucky enough to be parents and it’s something we talk about a lot, however there’s always this part of my (far too overactive brain) that says “But what if you don’t like it? What if you can’t cope? What if you get the post baby blues?” I’m quite an anxious person and I worry about how much I worry just about me, never mind the level of worry about another tiny little person! But this has given me that bit of confidence for the future – just knowing that it is totally normal if it does happen helps a lot. I know I’ll always have this article to come back and read.
A bit rambling, but I just wanted to let you know that you’ve actually just helped a whole load of future mum’s too. Thank you xxx

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Hi Sian!!

Thanks for commenting! I’m glad the post has been helpful, and I promise there are lots and lots of incredible things about being a Mummy!! I don’t want this post to be all doom and gloom.

It is totally normal to be very overwhelmed, as you can see from the comments. And I don’t think it’s something you realise until you’re there yourself or if you’ve had close friends/family give birth.

Lots of love x

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Fern, sorry this comment is so belated. I have only just found this post somehow. I wanted to thank you for being honest. I too found the first 12 months a real struggle. I wouldn’t say I didn’t love him early on, but I was almost crippled with anxiety. I felt scared to leave the house in fear of silly things like someone driving into the buggy. I actually cried once when someone bumped his buggy with a trolley in Sainsbury’s! (that was very early on though when hormones were running riot!)

A year on, I can safely say I’m a different person, but I wish someone had warned me beforehand of the effect hormones can have. My Mum always told me that she was on cloud 9 when I was born, so I half expected to feel the same.

I remember feeling so sorry for excited and heavily pregnant women shopping in the baby department John Lewis, I though ‘Oh God, poor women, they think it’s going to be nice!’.

That is a really depressing thing to write, but like you, I think it helps to be honest. I absolutely LOVE being a mum now, and wouldn’t change anything for the world. My life is so much brighter 🙂

xx

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