I recently watched a video by a lady called Brene Brown, it's something Nathan had viewed earlier in the day, as a part of the current course he's doing. I initially started watching, purely to humour Nath, he seemed so excited about it, and he assured me that it's something I would be interested it. The topic of the video was basically connection through vulnerability... that boy knows me well sometimes, because man did it resonate! The talk was predominantly about connection to others, not necessarily your children, although she touches on that occasionally... but for me, as I was watching, so many memories of my first year of motherhood came flooding back. This stuff has been in the back of my mind for a long, long time, so here goes...
The first year of motherhood for me was extremely tough. In fact, tough is an understatement, there were times where it was downright horrible. I spent most of that year feeling so alone, more than I had ever felt alone before, it was dark and cold, and I felt like I had nowhere to turn. There were various reason why this was the case. Sleep deprivation and hormones have a lot to answer for in those early days, it's a HUGE adjustment, we're old pals now, but back then we were just getting to know each other. Outside of that though, the military lifestyle was probably the biggest reason, the fact that I was so far away from my family, and most of my closest friends were everywhere else in the world. Although, looking back, I'm sure the friends I did have in Adelaide at the time would have given me the shirt off their back, but I didn't want to bother them, I didn't want to open myself up to the possibility that they didn't feel the same way about me. As I type this now, I know that couldn't have been further from the truth, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Earlier that year, Nathan's mum passed away (I was 5.5 months pregnant), and as anyone could imagine, it had a catastrophic effect on our lives. A few months later, Nathan was simultaneously grieving for his mum, and feeling the huge rush of emotions that comes with the birth of your child. He was doing everything he possibly could to help me through my struggles, while dealing with his own... looking back I can see how much of his own stuff he pushed aside, so he could be there for me and Abbie. As a brand new mum, I often sought the advice or wisdom of those who had been there before, I'm sure most of us do at some point. Only, with Nath's mum gone, and an extremely complicated and strained relationship with my own mother, we didn't have a lot of options (cue Dr Google). We both have pretty incredible fathers, but sometimes, especially during the 'baby days', you just need that good old 'Nanna' advice. We fumbled our way through so many things, trying to figure it all out on our own.
Then there's me, and my own 'issues'. Many of you who know me, may call me a dreamer, and it's not unusual to actually catch me mid daydream. I like MY reality... not actual reality. On top of this, I have super high expectations of myself, I am a perfectionist. To say I came crashing back down to earth when I entered the motherhood stage of my life, would be putting it gently. I imagined my baby being born, and immediately having this insanely, intense connection with her... only, I didn't. I loved her well before she was even born, it wasn't a question of love, but of connection. Not only was I alone, with a baby I didn't know and couldn't connect with, but I had NO IDEA what the hell I was supposed to be doing... I felt lost, not good enough, I wasn't getting it 'right', I was a bad mum. You see, I LOVE to plan, and organise... what it took me far to long to realise was that, you CANNOT plan and organise a baby! I wasn't dealing with a little robot, like the books would have me believe. I was dealing with Abbie, and she writes her own book... I just wish I had a copy of it!
After a few months, we couldn't keep dealing with it on our own. I couldn't put on the brave face anymore, I couldn't fake smile my way through it. I was trying to ignore all the bad feelings in the hopes they would go away, I would break down, and then pretend nothing had happened... but I needed to acknowledge these negative feelings, because by ignoring them, I was becoming numb to every feeling. You can't have the good without the bad, and to have a chance at feeling the happiness I so desperately wanted, I needed to get it all out. Nath and I both agreed that a visit to the Doctor would be the best place to start. That was the best thing I have ever done for myself. It turns out that I was well and truly showing the warning signs for Post Natal Depression, and looking back now it was VERY obvious. Long story short, I started to see some people, and talk about what was going on. One of the best pieces of advice I was given, was to simply pick a few people to talk to, people in my life, and open up to them. It sounds so simple right? It's not though. I was so afraid of opening up and making myself vulnerable. I was so scared of being judged, of being laughed at, of being looked down on, because after all, what did I really have to be depressed about? I had a great life, a loving husband, and a beautiful baby, but it's so much deeper than that. It took a while, but I did open up to a few people, and I'm so glad I did! I mustered a little courage, allowed myself to be vulnerable, to be imperfect, to ask for help and admit something wasn't quite right, and in return I gained some of the strongest bonds I have ever known... I hope those people know who they are, and know that I am forever grateful.
I didn't realise how, by opening myself up and allowing myself to be vulnerable, I was also opening myself up to the bonds and connections I had been missing. With my daughter, my husband, my friends and my family. All of these bonds have grown with time, especially my bond with Abbie, it's incredible.
The addition of a second baby meant that I had only a fraction of the spare time to think and dwell on things than I had before. I quickly learned what was important, not only on a day to day task management level, but on an emotional level too. To pick which battles are worth fighting, and which ones to let go of... this is so very difficult for me. I am learning to accept the things I cannot change or control, more often than not I slip, and find myself struggling in one way or another, but I'm aware, and I'm trying... because of the way I managed to open myself up and show that vulnerable side to certain people when Abbie was little, means that now, I have a bond with people in my life that is strong enough to help me through. There are days where I fall into that darkness, I don't know if it ever truly goes away, but I think you somehow learn to incorporate into your life, and those days are usually exacerbated by less than average sleep. When I found out I was pregnant again, after the initial excitement faded, and the reality of the situation set it, I sobbed... I was so afraid that I was going to fail another baby. Now though, I'm learning to stop and breathe, I've seen through my own actions, that the sooner I stop screaming and fighting, and starting listening to myself and what's going on around me, the more manageable and calmer life becomes (sounds like a no-brainer right?). So even though we've added more to our already hectic life, and taken away even more of the sleep I really need, in terms of healing (amongst other reasons), Eliana has been a blessing I am so incredibly grateful for.
The fact that I am putting all of this out there, opening up and becoming even more vulnerable may seem strange to some, but these days, I'm pretty much an open book. This blog, believe it or not, is another healing process for me... I love telling a good story, and by being completely honest to everyone else, I'm more importantly being completely honest with myself. I'm very much a work in progress, and it's really only the tip of the iceberg... I guess (for want of a better way of putting it) I'm ok with it all. Shit happens. It's time to deal with WHY I felt this way. We're all perfectly imperfect and we're all good enough. I often think that if maybe I had had even the smallest inkling that someone I knew had been through this, I might have opened up earlier and said 'Hey me too' and I wouldn't have felt so alone. So here it is. If you're feeling it, it's ok... Feel free to drop me a line and say 'Hey me too'...
Behind the blog...
‘The Mummysomniac’ is a lifestyle, motherhood and most recently, pregnancy blog, founded in 2015 by Kirsty McKenzie. She’s a mum of three, blogging about the highs and lows of motherhood, with a straight forward and honest approach, as well as a little bit of humour. Kirsty is passionate about sharing the realities of #MumLife, not the cookie cutter, high gloss version