It is one of life’s greatest joys to hold your baby for the first time. You are surrounded by so much joy and love and the high of the moment could be something you could bottle up and keep for the rest of your life. You are in a bubble while you are still in hospital. The doctors, nurses, visitors and fresh new experience of motherhood. It’s beautiful, confronting and emotional all at the same time. This tiny human belongs to you, it relies on you and needs you in their every breathing moment.
As you cautiously put your first foot into motherhood, every experience is new. Everyone tells you about the trials and jubilation that can happen all at the same time. For a lot of mums, it’s a confronting and confusing time, and that’s ok. You get told about the lack of sleep, the pain of recovery, the unconscious stress that is always at the back of your mind that happens as soon as this tiny bundle enters the world. At times it can be information overload with everything that you get told. There is however one thing that no one ever tells you about. It is not uttered and is this unspoken acceptance from mothers that have gone before. Motherhood is lonely and with that comes a great sense of disconnection from your own life and those around you.
It is time to go home and leave the safety net of the hospital. As you pack up all the flowers, teddy bears and gifts that have been showered on you since your baby arrived, you feel a sense of nervousness but complete joy. It is a feeling that will stay with you throughout your motherhood journey. As you arrive home and things settle, a silence comes over this new chapter. It is still extremely exciting but there is a shift and one that you probably didn’t expect.
Life is now all about your baby. It has consumed every aspect of your life. Every conversation, every shopping list, every activity and waking moment becomes about your baby. You start to lose sense of self and loneliness clouds over. Even when people come to visit, it remains all about this tiny human. Isn’t it strange how we can be around people but still feel so isolated? As the bond grows stronger with your baby, the bond you have with your own life and the people in it feels like its fading. It is one of motherhoods greatest juxtapositions.
One thing to clarify is that this feeling of extreme isolation and loss of self is not Post Natal Depression. It is something completely different. It is a sense of loss of who you were and for your old life. Everything becomes baby-centred and you-time no longer exists. Of course, you are completely in love and engrossed in this new little being but at the same time are experiencing such loneliness and loss. The promise is, you are not alone.
You might get suggestions to go to mothers group and community-based programs to get you out of this loneliness but this might not be your thing when you are so sleep deprived and still healing. So, what does need to change to combat this loneliness new mothers feel? It’s going to take a shift in our entire culture and way of thinking.
Have you ever heard of the saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Where is that village? Why do we put the pressure on ourselves that we can do it all? Find your village and keep them close. If we go back to this village mentality again then we no longer have to feel lonely. Motherhood “makes us privately important and publicly invisible” and it is this shift that creates such a great sense of loneliness. So, the hard truth is that being a new mother is one of the most beautiful and yet can be the loneliest time in your life. Take it slow, gather your village and know that the loneliness is not forever.
If you are experiencing the loneliness of motherhood come and join our supportive community Motherhood Unplugged Community. It’s a supportive Facebook group to help mothers in all aspects of their journey who are seeking connection, conversation and community.
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