Brought to you by Bupa’s mummatters.
In 2008 I became a mum. I still remember the moment it happened, like it was yesterday. Her warm, squidgy body was placed in my arms, I cried, Hubby cried, and I was a mum. It was magical.
I want to tell you that the moments after that were bliss, and all baby naps and perfection, but I’d be lying.
That first year was the hardest of my life.
I’d been a Nanny for 10 years before having Lacey, so I’d convinced myself that I should have known better. I should have done better. I’d somehow convinced myself that I was some kind of superhuman.
She woke every 40 minutes at night, so I fed her and then rocked her back to sleep. Every single time. I told Hubby to get his rest every night, because I thought it was my job to just do it. There was only one night in that whole first twelve months when I asked him to take over because I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. Fifteen minutes in I took over the reigns again because I couldn’t handle not doing it.
I was also holding down my job too. Six weeks after giving birth, I packed up my sweet baby and took her to work with me. Looking back I don’t know how I even functioned in those first twelve months. I know I was so tired, emotional, exhausted and trying to just survive.
I was also really stubborn.
I didn’t ask for help. I thought that I had to do it on my own. I thought that everyone else could do it, I should too. After all I was a Nanny for goodness sake, I specialised in caring for babies. I should know better, and do better.
My older sister begged me to let her get me a night nurse to come in and help. I told that it wasn’t too bad and I could do it. I was doing OK.
Five years later and I had changed. I was pregnant again, but I was no longer stubborn. I was ready, willing, and able to accept help.
Somewhere in those 5 years I’d realised that there was no award for being a hero. There was no badge for soldiering on, and surviving each day. I researched, and called people. I consulted with a lactation consultant before I gave birth, and I leaned on my tribe once Lulu had arrived. I took advantage of the midwife service at my local doctor’s office for the first six weeks. I accepted help from family and friends. I didn’t try to be a hero. I realised that sometimes it takes a bit more courage to ask for help, and that’s absolutely OK.
The difference between those first two years of my girls’ lives is like night and day for me. Despite loving them both so immensely, the experience was so different. I wish I’d asked for help with Lacey. Not just for me, but for her too. I wasn’t coping, and I needed to just be able to sit down and talk about it with someone. I wish I’d taken even just five minutes to take care of me. It didn’t need to be that hard. I’m glad that I made changes with Lulu, when I was pregnant and afterwards. I leaned on my family, friends, and online tribe for support. I realised that sometimes it takes a village to raise a baby, not just one mum alone.
Last year I asked you guys what you thought would have helped in the first 1000 days of parenting, as part of a campaign with Bupa. We came up with brilliant ideas, like food drops, flowers and other useful things… but the thing expecting and new mums wanted most? Help. You wanted people to check in with you, you wanted support, and Bupa listened.
The new mummatters tool takes just five minutes, but can truly help. It’s all online so you can save it to your mobile’s home screen, and use it while you’re feeding the baby or grabbing a spare moment on your own. You’ll get to check in on your emotional wellbeing, find tips and resources, and also get really gentle reminders each month to keep checking in. It’s all about you, created by specialists. I wish I’d had this with Lacey, because I’d have known that I wasn’t OK, and that there were options out there and people who can help. Best of all mummatters is free and completely confidential. Click here to check out mummatters and to get started. If you’re not pregnant or don’t have a new bub but know someone who is or does, feel free to share the tool with them. You could make a huge difference.
How did you find that first year? Do you find it hard to ask for help?