I was sitting in the car, bawling my eyes out while on the phone to my husband. I was frazzled, rattled, and perturbed by the second last mother’s group I attended. It was by this stage the mothers group encompassed two different age groups of mums and babies; the time coming for those of us with older babies to ‘move on’. Due to this cross-over, this particular morning had around 16 mums and bubs, plus the two maternal health care nurses. I was confident about attending – my little Starfish wasn’t quite so little anymore. He was getting older, and we were attempting to venture out a lot more. So I eagerly packed him up into the car, ready for our second last week.
Things started off as usual – lots of chatter, enjoyable conversations about our growing bubs, and discussing the need for wine; when my little boy started to grizzle.
“Great…” I thought. His sleep time was due, so I did lots of rocking and shushing to try and help him to sleep. Unfortunately, that didn’t help. And the thing about my boy, is he is a LOUD crier. Like, he is the LOUDEST baby you’ll ever hear (I’ve gotten judgemental looks from other mums because of his crying, but that’s a story for another day). As his volume escalated, so did my anxiety. I walked around with him, gave him the dummy, tried to move to a ‘quieter’ corner. By this stage, he was so loud (consistently) that you couldn’t hear anyone else trying to speak in the room.
I tried to boob him again, which only calmed him down for a short period of time. Once he started grizzling, I was up, moving about, doing anything I could to get him to calm down. Eventually, he must have been so tired that he fell asleep. Of course, this basically coincided with the end of the session anyway. I fought back tears. I fought back the urge to just curl up in a ball and bawl my eyes out.
What got me through
Just at that moment, another mum walked over to us from across the room and asked if we were alright. Her genuine concerned touched me. I had to fight back the tears even more. She offered to cuddle him for me if I needed a break. I was overwhelmed by gratefulness and appreciation. It got me through the anxiety I was feeling, and the sadness at not being able to calm my son. It was after this that I broke down in the car on the phone to my husband.
Unfortunately, this was a semi-regular occurrence for my son in the early days. He peaked during the 6-12 week period (which I later learnt was quite normal), and would escalate his fussiness and crying to unbearably-loud volumes. It got so bad for me (and my anxiety) that I would be petrified of leaving the house. What if he had a meltdown? What if he lost it while we were out shopping (which he has done) and I was stuck in the middle of the store?
I struggled to gain the courage to go out for coffee with my mothers group. I would struggle to go out anywhere with just me and my son – if I had extra hands from my husband, it was a different story. I felt so lonely, so isolated and so unsure of everything that was going on (don’t al new mums feel like that at some point?)
So what got me through?
My Mum Tribe
Call them what you will – a community, group, fellowship, team – it was my mum tribe that got me through. The mums from my mothers group who kept encouraging me to come out with them, after weeks of me saying no (due to anxiety). Mums like my beautiful friend who in a crowd of 16 mums and bubs, stopped to come over and ask if I was okay. The mums in the Facebook groups that send encouraging quotes to me, tell me that I’m not crazy for starting a biz and blog while on maternity leave. It was all these mums that I have met within the last 7 months that have helped me get through my stint of postnatal anxiety.
As my son plateaued and began to calm down (to the point where he hardly ever grizzles, thank goodness!), I felt even more comfortable and confident to reach out to other mums. I’ve now made it my aim to try and help other new and prospective mums, especially those who might be struggling to cope in the early days.
This week I also joined with PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) as a community champion to share my story and hopefully help other mum.
If you feel that you might like some extra help, visit PANDA HERE for more information, or call the PANDA national hotline on 1300 726 306.