Now 10 months into motherhood, Cat Neilan writes a letter to her wide-eyed and worried new mum self…
Dear Me, One Month In,
How are you getting on? No, actually don’t answer that – I know you won’t tell me the truth. You’ll tell me you had a rough patch for a few days – sure, there have been moments when you felt a bit overwhelmed and there were times when you would cry for no apparent reason – but you’re all over that now. You’ll tell me how much you’re loving motherhood and actually don’t find it boring at all. Yes, it would be nice if he slept a little better and perhaps if he could go to sleep with slightly less shhing that would be great, but all things considered, it’s going great.
You won’t tell me how you think you’ll never sleep again – even if he’s asleep, because you’re so paranoid he’s going to die at night. How you feel like your body’s not your own, how it hurts so much when you breastfeed that you’ve started to resent it when he’s hungry, and you’re really not convinced he’s getting enough anyway. How whenever people tell you to trust your instincts that you want to shout at them that you don’t have any, or that if you did they’d be screaming at you to hand the baby over to the nearest professional because you, quite clearly, cannot cope.
You won’t tell me this because you’re shocked – you’ve always been able to get the hang of things before, and if you haven’t, it’s never been a big deal to just give up and do something else. You won’t tell me this because everyone else seems to have a handle on it and you’re hoping that you don’t actually have post-natal depression. You won’t tell me this because you’re embarrassed and scared and wondering if there is any way you can make it all go away.
But it’s OK. Really. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now but you will get there. You do sleep again – or at least, you get your head down when the baby sleeps (which could be a little longer, if I’m honest). The breastfeeding will stop hurting, and the baby is getting plenty of milk. Somehow, from somewhere, those instincts have emerged. You’re not paranoid about every little thing (although your husband might think it) and, though you won’t believe me right now, you actually enjoy spending time with your baby. So much so, you’re even starting to think about number two (seriously, I’m not making this up).
There are things you will always worry about – a really long list, but who’s counting? – and you still can’t see a report about Syrian refugee children without welling up. But you’re not crying at the Freeview advert anymore and not every song from Les Miserables get you going. So some progress.
I wish I had something more concrete for you in the advice department, other than to say you will have to grin and bear it for a few more weeks. I won’t try and tell you to enjoy it while you can.
But trust me when I say, it does get better – so much better. And then you won’t want this time to end.
Love from Me, 10 Months In ?