Young Mum Charlie talks about coping with post partum depression as a young parent and the importance of self care
BECOMING A PARENT
Pregnancy is such a beautiful thing. It can be the most magical moment in a woman’s life (other than her wedding day of course); where you and the person you love the most create something so precious, yet so fragile. Where you, everyone around you, family and friends all share the excitement when you announce your big news. They are all so eager to watch you and see the little one that has put your body through everything, in order for it to grow in nine months. The first scans, the gender scan or even that gender reveal party your mum plans for you gives your pregnancy that extra bit of exhilaration. Your life moves from, “oh my goodness I’m having a…” to, “I’m a mum to a…” “when I became a mum”. I had so many plans and several ideas of how we would spend our days. Whom we would see. Where we would go. I planned how I wanted to parent and what routines to follow. I planned family days out. From how we would go about experiencing new things, to creating memories and doing all these fun things. Especially things I never had the chance to do when I was little, such as buying brand new clothes and getting the kids what they wanted, whenever they wanted them. Just like my birth plan, it never goes the way I would like it too.
BABY BLUES TO POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION:
Most days I find myself stuck in the house, tending to my children’s needs when and if they need me. Other than that, we sit on the floor, they will play and I will watch. I enjoy partaking in every moment of their imagination. I thought my partner would be more involved, but he spent more time away because he missed his mother more than loving the first few days of loving his daughter.
Motherhood is not easy, no matter the age you begin the journey. However, when you are young and you have had every moment leading up to the moment your child arrives be so magical, the realisation soon hits you. For instance, friends that were so excited to see you and your baby begin to leave because you have responsibilities now, or because you are not fun to be with, anymore.
Your life moves from accommodating Saturday night fun, to staying home and reading your baby a bedtime story. In terms of support, if your partner works, they may think they can have time off home life and from being a parent. This would often mean that you do everything on your own. Your down days move from being occasional, to an everyday thing. All of it can shift from Baby blues into post-partum depression really quickly.
SOCIAL MEDIA ILLUSION:
You see so many social media posts of famous people looking great just after giving birth. It could also be an everyday mum online looking amazing and having the best time with their children. They could be baking cookies or showing how amazing parenting can be, these photos can escalate your emotions when you see them. Especially because you could be having a different experience of parenting. Social media can amplify perfection that extend to insecurities.
Rather than pressure myself, I have come to the realisation that celebrities can be social media beards. Sometimes, they get help to raise their children. They get the one on one time, but they may also have help at 2AM, when all a parent wants to do is rest. This may not be accessible to other parents, which is why there should be no pressure to live up to these social standards.
When it comes to fame or family, not every day will be perfect. They could use make up to cover-up weeks and weeks’ worth of bags that is under the eyes because of so many sleepless nights. Those cookies? They could be store bought. These are often for the ‘social media show’. For a young parent, what is easy to hear is that, “you are young and made a mistake”. Even worse, you can hear that “you have ruined your lives” by having a child so young. No one sees us as these fantastic mums, but we are. Those days where all we do is cry and struggle does not mean we cannot do it, our age does not define us, we are learning, just like everyone else.
You are still human; you are not just a mum. The most important thing you can do to look after your baby is to look after yourself. The pressure of trying to prove to others that you are a good mum can take over you and that could build into an aspiration that may be difficult to keep up with. It will just get to a point where one day, you do not feel like yourself anymore. Do not let anyone tell you how to parent, I know it is something that is hard and you do not know where to go from here but you will get there. Everything will fall into place.
When I had my first child, I used to start everyday with cuddles and feed my little one with a bottle. Once they go back to sleep, I would do an hour of housework and an hour of chill time before they woke up, making sure I felt okay, so I was steady. However, when I had my second child, it was a whole other story; I relied on my parents a lot as my mental and emotional support system.
They would keep me on my toes until I asked for help. It was such a different experience and it still is such a difference. I live off starting every day with a cuddle and an antidepressant. Recently, I do not care what anyone thinks. This is because I know my children are fed, clothed, washed and well looked after with smiles on their faces every day. That is what matters, and I know another thing that matters is taking care of myself.
CONTRIBUTE YOUR STORY TO LITTLE LULLABY
This blog was contributed to Little Lullaby by Charlie G, a young mum of two. You can contribute your own birth story, post-partum depression or other parenting stories to our website by sending us an email.