Newborns bring lots of joy! And also lots of tears, and excitement, and boredom, and WTF moments. Raising babies is hard work at times (ah, all times), but especially during those postpartum days, when your body is still vulnerable and trying its best to heal. Your sleep is peppered in little cries, your sheets are wet with milk, and your body is slow and sore. But first-time mum Tori Bowman Johnson wants every other first-time mum to know one really simple thing – you’ll be ok.
Her book Afterwards is a promise of that in postpartum life. That sweet, awkward, perplexing transition into parenthood. A little escape! A little reassurance! A gentle reminder that: You're not alone. This is completely normal. You're incredible. Tori has generously, lovingly shared a snippet from Afterwards to enjoy... with a cup of tea, maybe. (A cold one, probably.)
Mothers feel guilty for SO many things following the birth of a child. Maybe not all of us but many of us. Even though we love our children more than life itself, don’t think it’s uncommon to have moments where you feel overwhelmed and genuinely frustrated by the countless ways a baby changes your life.
If I’ve written it, I’ve felt it. Trust me.
- Your friends and their babies are so great at arranging play dates in the park but with your work schedule or just your flat mood today, you feel like you're always unable to make it. You stay home worrying about depriving your baby of social experiences while also being a shitty friend
- A load of clean washing has sat in the washing basket since the Tuesday before last. You’re more tempted to chuck it all out and just buy new clothes. Then you think of the landfill, then you think of people with so little, and then you remember you’re an adult.
- You know your partner wants to have sex but you’re too tired because you’ve lugged a small Michelin man on your hip all day.
- You go off to an exercise class in the morning and take the longest route home because you just crave a bit more time for yourself. You know your partner has to get to work and your baby needs a feed but you just want another kilometre of silence.
- You shut your eyes and sleep when the baby sleeps leaving five text messages yet to be read and replied to.
- You try so hard to keep your little one away from digital objects for as long as possible but today you give in. ‘Have my phone, here’s the remote control, have Dad’s laptop. Whatever you want, take it all. TAKE IT ALL!’
- The Instagram babies are dressed in white linen and various shades of olive and terracotta. They eat organic sardines with avocado while sitting on a peaceful white beach. Your naked baby is on the floor, eating a paper plate and sucking on a peg.
- It’s 11am on a Wednesday. You see so many people rushing from meeting to meeting as they make the economy go round and round. You’re out on your third walk for the day listening to a podcast about The Bachelorette.
- You pat your baby’s little back and stroke their warm forehead when they’re teething, tired and in need of their Mumma. You yawn uncontrollably and wish for someone to rub your back.
- You coat your baby’s delicate skin in lovely oils to make them feel relaxed. You feel calm, in love and so at peace. Then you remember your girlfriend who is struggling with their baby’s reflux issues and hasn’t slept in three days.
You adore your baby.
You love them unconditionally.
You miss them when they sleep.
You worry that your heart will implode when you hear them giggle.
You promise to do whatever it takes to ensure their health, happiness and comfort is never compromised… and yep.
Guilt still manages to rear its ugly head because even though you promise to do all the right things by them, you know you haven’t done them yet. You might stuff up… you might get it wrong.
Even when you’re doing your very best mum-ing. Even when you are exceeding your own expectations. Even when you finally admit to yourself that being a Mum is a hard role to take on but you’re coping really well… you feel guilty.
At times it feels impossible to ease up on the self-depreciation. To just jeep moving forward and ‘shhh’ out the unwanted thoughts. To look at things from another perspective.
But! Know that even if you sit on your phone while hiding in the loo and live vicariously through someone else’s life for 10 minutes… it is OK! Whatever gets you through a moment of hardship. If you have your first shower at 3pm, if you eat your baby’s snacks, if you forget to buy toilet paper at the shops and use a box of tissues for the week… it is OK.
You are OK. Your baby is OK. OK?
To find out more about Tori and her book, head to afterwardspostpartum.com.au