Mother's Day isn't always easy, for a multitude of reasons. I know Hannah from my work running my hamper gifts for new mums company, Mum's Back, and was delighted when she agreed to write this post for me.
In this article, Hannah describes what life was like as a new mum living with the health condition ME, especially around Mother's Day. Hannah says “I've learnt that life with a chronic illness can make things hard to navigate, but also has a habit nudging your life on a different path, bringing some lovely things along the way.” Thank you so much Hannah for your insight, and for this gorgeous blog….
It’s March 2011 and my first child is 6 months old. She’s beautiful, smiley, and apart from the odd projectile poo, a very easy baby to care for.
It’s my first Mother’s Day.
Since I was 14 I had dreamt of becoming a Mum. I loved children and had a husband who was eager to be a Dad – it was the perfect set up for a first time parent.
Except, it wasn’t.
I had been living with a long term chronic illness (ME) for seven years before I had my daughter. We hoped that somehow it would all be ok, and the need to rest a huge amount would somehow disappear as the delight of being a mother washed over me.
Turns out, autoimmune conditions don’t quite work that way. My muscles, energy and hormones crashed and burnt 4 months post birth.
I was a mess.
Like most first time mothers the three hourly night feeds were crippling, but for me, the fatigue was more than a coffee and a refreshing shower would fix.
As my first Mother’s Day approached, in all honestly I didn’t have the energy to care too much. I loved my baby dearly, but the physical need to lie down and sleep often overtook my longing to take her out, to play with her, to interact with the very creation I had spent 9 months growing and 30 years dreaming of producing.
Thankfully, my daughter was (and still is really) a contented and happy soul. But my circumstances meant I felt let down and often anxious at how I would cope with the day ahead. She wasn’t the best sleeper either, so her 30 minute power naps peppered throughout the day didn’t really lend to ‘sleeping when baby sleeps’ – (such shit advice to give a tired mother!)
My husband, (oh how lovely he is) knew I wasn’t coping and wanted me to know how well I was doing, so he got in touch with a friend, and tried to buy me something I would really love. He bought me a cardigan which I wanted (we couldn’t afford, but he could see he had a wife on the edge and was trying to do anything within his power to stop me crying all day long) – there were flowers and a gift and a happy, healthy baby.
All the things women the world over would long for.
I had friends who couldn’t conceive, I knew not of their pain.
I had friends whose husbands were inconsiderate idiots – mine was amazing.
I had all the things they longed for, yet not being physically able to meet the needs of your child hit me like a ton of bricks.
I felt deep joy – while also feeling deep deep disappointment.
The one thing it’s very hard to do when you are physically and emotionally exhausted (I don’t just mean tired, that’s different) is enjoy things. I felt happy, yes, but enjoying something when your body is in pain and your mind has frozen over due to fatigue, is overwhelmingly hard. And the sadness this lack of enjoyment bought only make the whole situation worse.
I have always been someone who enjoys things. I've never really needed lots of money or resources to have fun and feel happy, but my ability to ‘make the best of it’ had worn thin.
Some people said to me ‘ahh it’s only Mothers Day….don’t put so much pressure on yourself’. But you see, the thing was, I didn’t. I wasn’t really too bothered about the one day – it was the fact I knew, that deep down, it wasn’t going to get any better any time soon, and my life as a mother of young children was going to be significantly different from my peers…..I had been a Nanny, I had been a childminder, I had worked in a nursery, I knew what the toddler years would bring. I knew this wasn’t a temporary situation I had to ‘ride out’.
My body let me down.
Here’s the thing…sometimes, you can’t make lemonade from the lemons life gives you, because you’re too exhausted.
I was lucky, I have a family of amazing people who helped, provided and cared enough to get me through the early years of being a Mum.
But for those of you who are reading this who don’t have that support, well, it’s just a bit shit really, isn’t it?
Sometimes you gotta call the bad stuff what it is.
I am all for positive thinking, but there are times when – it’s just shit.
(You can’t make lemonade out of shit, it’s still nasty.)
Eight years on and my daughter no longer wakes every 3 hours for a feed – thank the lord! She has a 6 year old brother, and I’m about to celebrate my eighth Mother's Day. ( I have requested a new plant for my garden, you know, cos I’m cool like that!)
My health is still an issue, but when I have the opportunity to care for my health as it requires, my day to day life is much better – and this, in turn, makes me able to enjoy life more fully once more.
I had thought (hoped) that I would look back to eight years ago and forget the sadness I felt at being so unwell, for not only my first Mother's Day, but my second, third, fourth and fifth…but I haven’t. Those times are precious, and some of them I missed.
I enjoyed many, many moments that proceeded and came after that first Mother’s Day – there have been wonderful times.
But the sadness still remains when I reflect back….and you know, I think that’s ok.
This guest post was written by mum of 2, Hannah Deane, owner of Little Shout – a social media marketing company.