My final post in the ‘New Baby’ trilogy is one for us all. For those of us with a new baby right now. For those of us who are ‘out of the woods’ but know someone who isn’t. Because no matter how many times you do it, having a new baby can be lonely. And once we’re out of the baby years, it’s easy to forget exactly what it’s like. But new mums need all the support they can get. Which is why we all need to ‘look out for a new mum.’ Click on the links if you missed the first two parts, The First 12 Days with a Newborn and Welcome to The Fourth Trimester.
We’re all new mums.
Having a baby is the MOST CHALLENGING thing you’ll ever do.
Especially if up until this point you’ve had trouble keeping a pot plant alive. Write this down in big letters and put it on the fridge. Because when you’re knackered, sleep deprived and hormonal, you will forget this. You will tell yourself that you should be doing better. When you’re already good enough.
If it’s your first baby, you’ll spend a lot of time doubting yourself. A LOT. You’ll worry that your baby isn’t a) feeding enough b) sleeping enough c) doing somersaults yet. Is he/she developing normally? Why is your friend’s baby doing X when yours can’t even do Y yet? WHY. WHY. WHY…
If it’s your second, third, or fourth baby, you’ll still spend a lot of time doubting yourself. Except this time you’ll feel like a fraud. Because it’s your second, third or fourth baby. You know what you’re doing. This should be easy by now, right?
You may as well forget that you’ve already had one before. Whilst this might help you with practical things like how to change a nappy and work a steriliser, when it comes to the actual baby, every one may as well be the first. Because just like pregnancies, they’re all different. And they all do things uniquely. In their own time.
When it comes to having a baby, we’re all new mums.
No matter what round we’re on.
Having a new baby is lonely.
I didn’t expect having a baby to be lonely third time around. I mean, how can you be lonely when you have three kids and you’re literally NEVER EVER alone?
But with new babies come demands. Naps, routine and oh so much feeding. Demands that happen regardless of how many kids you already have. Demands that take you away from the outside world. The outside world that is having a far better life than you currently are. Or ever will again. Parties. Nights out. Holidays. All documented by the wonder that is social media.
When you’re tired and having a tough time, all normal terrain with a new baby in tow, these things can become magnified. They can make you feel like you’re on your own. And whilst it’s perfectly natural to feel like this, it’s a sign you need looking after. A check-in from a friend. A hug from your other half. A hot dinner cooked for you. Any gesture that tells you, ‘you’re not alone right now.’
That you’re loved.
(Also. They’re not really having a better life than you. It just feels like that).
Hello? Is anyone there?
Life is busy. For everyone.
Beyond the first few weeks in New Babydom, help can dwindle. The offers dry up. It’s natural and unintentional. To that hectic outside world, you’re doing ok. A good few weeks on, you’re not such a new mum anymore (except you are), your baby is bouncing, you’ve brushed your hair and you’re dressed (sort of). You MUST be doing ok.
Yet some days, nothing could be further from the truth. Because looking after a baby is such a fine balance between coping and chaos. It depends on so many factors. Mostly SLEEP. Have a particularly bad night’s sleep and you can pretty much guarantee that everything that follows will turn to mud. You feel run down. A bit low. Alone.
You need someone to notice.
Offering help. Asking for help.
Since having my third child in July, I’ve been shown the kindness of others. In the first couple of weeks particularly and especially by mums of three. Presumably, because they KNOW.
Offers of help have come from surprising avenues as well as from my family and close friends. Cooked meals. Driving my girls around. Relieving me of one (or two) of them so I can enjoy some baby time. Giving them fun days out that I haven’t been able to do. Running errands for me. Just texting me comforting words that I’m doing great and ‘things will get easier.’
Most importantly, people have positioned themselves in such a way that I’ve felt able to ask when I’m struggling or needed something. And I’m incredibly grateful for this. It’s important. These gestures that are apparently ‘nothing’ have been everything to me.
So, if you know a new mum, please look out for her. Take a minute to remember how tough those early months are. If you can bear to. Don’t assume she’s ok because she says she is. Or because she doesn’t quite look like The Wicked Witch. Looks can be deceiving. Ask her how she is. Text her every now and again. If there’s something small you can do to help her out, do.
Remember that your ‘nothing’ might just be her ‘everything.’
One day at a time.
In the darkness of a 3.00 AM nightfeed, it can all feel relentless. You know what? Right now it is pretty relentless. But it WILL get easier. I know this from experience. And I still have to remind myself.
To this end, it’s important to take only one day at a time. And live in the moment. Don’t fast forward to further down the line. This can be a scary, unknown place that only adds to the overwhelming sense of responsibility you already feel. Get there when you get there.
Instead. Breathe. Deeply. And breathe some more.
Then remember, this is the MOST CHALLENGING thing you’ll ever do.
You don’t need to be doing better. You’re already good enough.
Have you found having a baby lonely at times? Have you received the support you felt you needed? Would love to hear your thoughts below. More love and reassurance in The New Mum’s Notebook, a journal to support new mums in their first 12 months. Available from Amazon, Waterstones, Tesco, ASDA, Oliver Bonas and all good retailers, priced £16.99.
It’s perfectly normal to feel lonely, low or up and down when you’ve had a baby. We’ve all been there, I promise you. Getting that elusive ‘rest’ can help, so can a good(ish) diet and gentle exercise (a walk with a pram, not a marathon). But if you’re ever concerned that your feelings are becoming a little too low, please speak to a friend and a health professional. Never worry that this will go against your ability to care for your baby. Your wellbeing is a priority. You can find information on post natal depression here. Also join us on Facebook for a daily pick-me-up and more blog posts.