A short while ago I was talking to a friend about life with 2 children. She expressed concerns that if she were to have another, she was worried she wouldn’t love them as much. This wasn’t the first time I had heard this from someone with one baby. This thought has never crossed my mind, in fact it was the complete opposite. Mind racing, anxiety creeping in, do I admit that I am worried I love my second born more than the first?
STOP. Why was I anxious about this. She admitted her worries to me, why should I not admit mine to her. As mother’s, we were in this together. I should feel fortunate to have a friend who is willing to share this with me. Being a mother is not a competition, you can’t win, you can’t do everything right. Share experiences and try not to judge.
The real reason I was scared to admit this thought was down to two things:
- A life long desperate desire to be liked and to fit in
- That I had postnatal depression after my first so motherhood was less than rosy when I had my first
Postnatal Depression (PND) affects 1 in 10 women. Very few people know that I suffered with it. When I had my first I was flung into a new world. None of my close friends had babies, the only people I knew with babies were my new NCT friends. How do you admit that you have a problem when they all seem to be loving motherhood, it came so naturally, they were all still glowing and gushing with love for their new babies. Desperate to keep these friends, afraid of being rejected from the only people I knew with babies, I pretended to be all these things. The chances are some of the mummy’s I met were suffering too, but like me, were too scared to let on.
Some days I feel that twang of guilt as I look at both my children and realise that my second born brings me so much more joy and happiness in this “baby” stage than my first born ever did. Sometimes all he has to do is look at me and my heart just melts a little bit. But then this is what is motherhood is meant to be like for everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I still have the days I want to pull my hair out, have a day off or wish the crying and tantrums would just stop. But first time around everyday was like that.
This time I’m much more honest. A lot of our friends from university and work have now entered the reproductive stage. This year alone we have had 7 sets of friends who have become first time parents! I always ask how their getting on. I never say how wonderful it must all be and they must love every minute of it. Instead I say I hope they are managing to enjoy it despite the lack of sleep and that it really is hard work. I still struggle to admit my PND, partly due to embarrassment and partly because it’s not about me now, it’s about them.