Updated: Mar 30, 2021
For a longtime motherhood was never an ambition of mine. I wanted to travel the world forever and sample all the rich experiences new countries had to offer. I wanted live in Sydney, New York, Zurich, Moscow and a million other places in between. I made my way from England to set up a new life in Australia when all of a sudden that maternal itch creeped up on me a lot later than maybe it does for most and a few years after meeting my lovely husband.
We were fortunate to conceive quickly which both delighted and scared me in equal measure…in fact that's not quite the truth, I was more scared than delighted. I found myself questioning if I had done the right thing. Was I actually cut out for motherhood? Could I actually do this, physically, mentally and emotionally? Was I ready for this monumental change to my life and my body?
My beautiful girl made an early entrance to the world almost 5 weeks before her due date and the onset of the birthing process started precisely 1 hour after my baby shower ended. Whilst I hopefully speculated that the slow and steady trickle of water coming down my legs and all over our new sofa was the onset of the incontinence I'd heard about in the late stages of pregnancy, the gushes that came shortly afterwards confirmed that one, my sofa was well and truly ruined and two, that my waters were indeed breaking and my journey to motherhood was starting a little earlier than expected. The trepidation I had for motherhood returned and the questions at conception resurfaced and magnified tenfold.
24 hours later after 'pee-gate', I found myself holding my beautiful little baby girl. I cried with delight and so much emotion, she was healthy and perfect and I'd survived! Those tears held a lot of love but also a lot of fear. Fear of how on earth I was going to manage to look after a tiny human and fear of what was next for us and for me.
Night five I sat at my dining table in tears. Sleep deprived and confused I wondered what on earth I had done. Why did I think having a baby was going to be fun? Why did I ever think I was capable of raising a human?
Why did no one tell me how hard this would be, or maybe more accurately why hadn't I listened when they had? The thing that haunted me most in the deafening silence of those long nights? Why was I not feeling all these feelings you are supposed to feel? I loved my little girl with all my heart and would do anything to protect her and keep her safe, but those feels of being in love, that cloud nine feeling of this being the best thing ever escaped me. This was hard, so much harder than I imagined and I felt so much guilt at feeling this way.
I felt suffocated and trapped by the responsibility and uncentered, highly anxious and delirious with the lack of sleep . Whilst my beautiful baby slept, I was pumping for hours on end trying to get my milk flow through, which just wasn't happening but I refused to concede defeat.
With each bottle of formula I prepared that she greedily guzzled down after the lengthy and unfruitful sessions at my breast, I felt like a failure as a mother. I always had been and continue to be an advocate for a fed is best philosophy, so this dogged determination and obsession to keep at it for months longer than I ever should at the expense my own well being, health and the bonding experience with my baby took me quite by surprise.
Why was I not feeling all these feelings you are supposed to feel? I loved my little girl with all my heart and would do anything to protect her and keep her safe, but those feels of being in love, that cloud nine feeling of this being the best thing ever escaped me. This was hard, so much harder than I imagined and I felt so much guilt at feeling this way.
I look back and think how assumptive people's well-meaning questions and concerns are for new mums." Is it the best thing ever?" " Are you completely besotted and more in love than you have ever been before?" My response? " Oh yes, best thing ever and yep, absolutely" all the while hiding a deep sense of shame and guilt of the reality which was "nope, I'm not enjoying this, it is the hardest thing ever" , " I don't know if I can do this" and "actually I love my baby but I'm not besotted. I don't feel those movie feels you're supposed to get. Am I weird? Crazy? A bad mum?".
I will forever be indebted to my mainly lovely husband who listened to my confession in those early days and said to me with an absolute strength, love and certainty , " That's ok, you'll get there"…and I did. It took me 6 months, not 6 seconds or 6 minutes or 6 days or 6 weeks but 6 months and I am so in love with that baby girl now and its truly a love like no other.
Marie Siddle is an expat originally from the UK and has been living and working in Australia for over 12 years. She is Mum to two little girls who give her much joy, happiness and also drive her a little bit crazy. Marie gives an honest account of motherhood with all of its highs and lows and speaks candidly about her experiences of parenting life.