Dear Motherhood… I love you. I really do. I love hearing my name being called when the house is silent and a little person has woken, thinking of me- ME!- before anything or anyone else. I love that I can hold their little bodies against mine and literally feel their heart begin to slow, to drop into rhythm with my own. I love that their heads fit perfectly into that little nook between my shoulder and my chin, so that they can nestle there for cuddles no matter how old or how big they are getting. I love that. I love you. But I need to tell you that sometimes I hate you too.
Sometimes you make me lonely. Back when my tummy was huge and my circle of friends was tiny, you took advantage of me. You swamped me with hormones, made me believe I was invincible. Made me think that I didn’t need anybody. Fooled me into thinking that all I needed in the world was my baby, and that was it. And for a long time, I took you at your word. I was that ‘super mum’ I’d dreamt of being, and you made it so easy for me first time around. It seemed so natural to put a baby to my breast and to hold her forever in a haze of warmth and love and utter contentment. It seemed so natural to think only of my baby and never of myself. It seemed so natural to want to do it again. You were so good for me.
It couldn’t last. The bubble had to burst. And, Motherhood, you made sure that happened. You gave me a challenge. You dared me to take it on. You taunted me with what I already had, and could have again. And then you hit me with it.
Where was that rush of love? Where was that feeling of pure and utter take-your-breath-away love? Where was it? Motherhood, you gave me a son. And you took me away. You gave me loneliness, and took away my confidence. You gave me isolation, and took away my self esteem. You gave me fear, and took away my courage. You broke me down, you held me down.
Motherhood, I love you. I love that you gave me a challenge. I love that you showed me how strong I could be. I love that you forced me to walk a path I never knew was meant for me. But sometimes I hate you too. I hate that you bring these hormones and these emotions and you make me shiver and shake and I know that you don’t really mean it but I need you to know how hard it is sometimes.
I love that I am a mother. I hate that sometimes that is all that defines me. I love the friends I have now. I hate that there weren’t many back then, when I really needed them. I love the children you gave me. I hate the double edged sword they bring.
Over half of new mothers feel isolated on a daily basis. Nearly two thirds of new mums with babies aged 0-3 feel lonely every single day. One in ten feel that they don’t have enough support around them in early days. One in five spend more than 12 hours alone with their baby at weekends. Tommy’s have joined forces with Water Babies and Una Healy to research into the lonely business of motherhood, and this is what they found.
Water Babies have helped to launch the Splashathon campaign, raising money in their swimming classes to support Tommy’s vital research. Vital because there are still 10 babies stillborn every day in the UK, and every year one in four women lose a baby during pregnancy or birth. These figures are still too high.
What were the early days of motherhood like for you?
The Splashathon event for Tommy’s will be taking place at Water Babies classes across the UK during June and July.
For more information about Splashathon, including how to donate to Tommy’s go to http://www.tommys.org/splash.