Motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster – but how do I know what’s normal?
Motherhood is a rollercoaster of extreme emotions and it can be hard sometimes to know what is normal and when a little helping hand is needed. Louise Hurley shares her personal experience of becoming a mum and explains when and where you can ask for help.
While I was pregnant with my first baby, I’d heard this plenty of times from family and friends: “Having children is hard work, but it’s worth it”.
I’m sure you can relate to this when I say that it wasn’t until I became a mum that I truly realised what a rollercoaster of intense emotion motherhood can be.
My first baby was one of those that slept like a dream for the first 12 or so weeks of life on the outside. Hubby and I really thought that we’d lucked out and got ourselves a “good sleeper”… But then she hit that period of intense neural development and she started waking through the night every hour or so. Every. Single. Night.
I felt so much love for my little baby. I’d obviously do anything for her – I’d die for her – but at the same time I felt so much frustration and anger (all fuelled by exhaustion) towards this little person screaming at me, not letting me sleep, and then guilt would wash over me.
How could I be angry at my little helpless baby who needs me for everything?… And on and on went that cycle.
There were nights when I’d fed my baby, rocked her, cuddled her, changed her nappy, fed her some more and still she cried and cried and wouldn’t sleep. I remember being so tired I would just sit on the floor next to her cot and cry alongside her, patting her back and begging her to just “please let me sleep”. On one occasion, I heard the neighbours in the apartment downstairs shout “shut up” when she wouldn’t stop crying. Obviously that didn’t make a difference to my baby but certainly added to my stress levels.
So why am I sharing this with you? Motherhood is a rollercoaster of extreme emotions and it can be hard sometimes to know what is normal and when a little helping hand is needed. Looking back I think I should’ve reached out more for some help from family or friends instead of struggling and waiting for the period of sleepless nights to end (she’s now 5 years old and still wakes me up in the night occasionally).
There’s no right or wrong or normal and abnormal when it comes to your emotions and motherhood (it truly is a rollercoaster of ups and downs). However, if how you are feeling affects your ability to enjoy motherhood, affects your relationship with your partner or family, impacts your ability to function or makes you feel that you or your baby are in any way unsafe then it’s time to reach out for some support.
Your first port of call should be your GP as well as your partner, family or friends. You can also get lots of information and support from the following services:
You may not be able to control the ups and downs of motherhood but you can control other things such as eating nutrient dense meals regularly (lots of fresh leafy greens, veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds) to keep your energy up, staying hydrated with water and finding an accredited mums’ fitness professional to help you safely get active again. Reach out to family and friends and ask for help, especially when it comes to catching up on sleep.
Louise runs Strong Mums in Gosford, NSW. She has a background in clinical and research psychology and became a mums’ fitness professional after having her first baby.