Life is hard! Sometimes you feel that you can’t do anything right or that you are never going to get into a better place. When we discover that we’re pregnant, whether you have been trying for ages or it was a complete surprise we have so many hopes and dreams. Our imagination goes wild with what it’s going to be like. The whole pregnancy our anticipation builds, and we build up a picture of what our future is going to look like. But, how can we know what having a baby is going to be like. We may have attended antenatal classes to get us prepared, we may have spent time with our family members or friends who have a baby, but nothing prepares you for the emotional rollercoaster of parenthood.
I’m going to tell you a very personal story today about a time in my life where I really struggled. It’s a bit odd but bear with me! Shortly after we arrived in New Zealand and had settled into our rental, we discovered that our tenants in the UK who were staying in our flat had decided to move their extended family in. To get an idea, we have a three-bedroom flat and there were 8 people living in there. We asked our property manager to give the tenants notice after they ignored our request for the other people to move out and then they stopped paying the rent. We were left paying our mortgage in the UK, our rent in New Zealand and all
our other living expenses. Despite my husband having a decent job, after expenses, we were struggling to make ends meet. Looking at our family from the outside you would never have known. I had very little money for food, so we were on a super basic diet, and I was going short so that I could feed the children first. I couldn’t afford a present for our little one’s 4th birthday, so we gave him something that a friend didn’t want anymore, which I wrapped in newspaper as I couldn’t afford wrapping paper. Going to the supermarket and wondering if I would have enough money to buy my groceries I remember sitting on the toilet and taking my toilet paper wondering if one day, I’d be able to not care/count the number of sheets of paper I took! It was a scary time for us. I knew that we would get new tenants, but it was the not knowing how long it would take.
When life throws you hard times whether they are financial, physical – lack of sleep or emotional – the roller coaster of having a baby it is the uncertainty of knowing when it is going to end that scares us. It will end, you will get through it and things will get easier and better. It is important to be kind to yourself and not to put too much extra pressure on yourself. When we throw babies into the mix, we can feel added pressure, but it’s important to remember that they are sensitive to our emotions. That doesn’t mean you are going to make them into unhappy people, it just means that the more relaxed you can be with them the happier they will be.
Get support in the way that will help you feel the most cared for. That will look slightly different for everyone. Below are some suggestions that can help make you feel a bit better.
Physical affection, a big hug or lots of big hugs and feeling loved.
Someone to talk to about how they/you are feeling.
Companionship and solidarity.
People to have fun with and being allowed to feel normal.
Going for a walk and getting some fresh air.
Being close to water – it can have a really calming effect, going to the beach is like medicine for me.
Exercise - not always easy if you are exhausted though.
Having some time out – get a babysitter or have a partner, family member or friend watch baby so you can go out on your own.
A warm relaxing bath.
Reading a book – which can be tough if you are tired!
I’m sure there are lots more other ways that you can think of that may work for you. Self-care is so important. Your little one needs a good version of you, so ‘put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others’.
So, what I am trying to say is you will get through this. Be kind to yourself, try and give yourself some special time during the day or certainly do something every day that makes you smile. I’m a big fan of making a gratitude list. I put three things that I’m grateful for everyday and if I don’t write them down, I list them while I’m driving in the car. It makes me realise how super lucky I am – I don’t have to count how many sheets of toilet paper I use anymore, which is really great as my youngest use’s half a roll at a time!!!!
Stay happy and send me a message if you are struggling and would like some extra support. firstname.lastname@example.org