I still don't feel like a "real" Mum.(21 Posts)
Obviously, I am a Mum -- DD is 10mo, now. I love her to bits. But I don't feel like a Mum. I feel like, I don't know -- I'm faking it, or not doing it right, or I'm not a real Mum, I'm just a woman who happens to have a baby.
I think some of it comes from early on -- DD had tongue-tie, but it wasn't diagnosed until she was 2mo, so I spent her first 2mo doing almost nothing but BF. Quite literally -- she would only nurse if I was tickling or blowing on her, and I would sit in the nursing chair 18-20hr a day trying to get her to nurse (really! a good day she might sleep 3-4 hours at night, and when you combined that with a few trips to the loo and maybe an afternoon nap of 30min-1hr, there was only 6 hrs at most that she wasn't feeding, and normally it was less), and DH would bring me food cut up into bite-sized pieces and clean the house and do everything. Combined with that was struggling to recover from an EMCS, where the MW and then HV kept telling me to go for walks and do things (when? I so incredibly didn't understand how it was possible), and I had bad SPD during pregnancy which was still hurting, making it even harder to do the walking they told me and sitting in the nursing chair hurt too, but side-lying nursing hurt even worse. I felt like a complete failure as a Mum, since so many other Mums seemed to be out and about with their LO and I didn't understand why I was so incapable.
Once we got her tongue-tie clipped, she went straight to eating only 9-10 hours a day and it was like a revelation that there were suddenly all these hours in which I could do things. But I think I developed a sense of who I was as a Mum during those two months where everyone was telling me that DD was fine and everything was normal, but clearly I wasn't doing what I should, therefore the problem was my inability to mother.
But I think it's more than that, too. I look at DH and he is so obviously a Dad. He's completely changed from the man who didn't like kids, and I don't feel like I changed at all. I recently visited a friend with a toddler and a 3mo, and she was doing so much -- looking after the toddler, nursing the baby, then wrapping the baby up in the sling to cook and hoover. I watched her and thought, wow, how can she do all that, isn't she in so much pain by now? And then I remembered that, no, it was just me whose SPD still hurts so I can't carry DD for long in a sling and be like a good, competent Mum who can care for a baby and take care of the house. And I've got another friend who just had a preemie and she's going to the hospital everyday to be with her LO and she's doing so much, just to be a Mum. I feel like she's a real Mum, doing all this extraordinary effort to be one, whereas I can't even put forth ordinary effort in Mum-things.
And because DH is a student, I went back to work quite early, so I spend a lot of time doing exactly what I did before I was a Mum. So I don't relate to the Mums who talk about life is so different and how everything is about the baby now. But I'm lucky in that my job is flexible and I can work from home when DH has to be out and as DH is a student he can stay with DD the rest of the time. So at work if I talk to Mums they ask me things about am I sending DD to nursery or childcare and I'm not and we don't seem to have much more to talk about. So I feel like I'm not matching any pattern of "Mum-ness".
Sorry, that was a big splat of words, there. But I've been feeling not even like a shit Mum, more like not even a Mum. Has anyone else ever felt like this? Will I ever actually feel like a real Mum?
Two things in your post have really struck a chord in me:
1) yes lots of mums can get out and about with the baby straightaway, go to baby groups etc. but think of all the unseen ones, who've also had horrible deliveries, SPD, PND, other physical problems that mean it's difficult to leave the house. You had a really difficult birth, followed by a baby with undiagnosed tongue tie. I'm not surprised you couldn't do any housework or leave the house very much in those early days. That doesn't make you any less of a mother.
2) I think some men often look more natural because they are not quite so intensely emotionally involved iykwim. When I think about DS it's a complex mix of emotions; joy, love, anxiety, and it takes my breath away. With my DH it's just love. Pure and simple.
I am sure you are a great mum. I had a non napping nightmare baby for the first 5 months. I literally did no housework. At all. DH did everything. That doesn't make me a bad mum, I was looking after DS.
My DS is 10 weeks and I feel the same! Even though I had a textbook pregnancy and birth (apart from a PPH/blood & iron transfusion afterwards) I feel as you described - a woman who happens to have a baby.
Don't get me wrong - I love DS to bits and would never be without him for the world, but sometimes I look at him (my heart bursting with love) and think 'how did you get here??'
I'm hoping that in time I'll start to feel differently, maybe when he starts to call me mum, but for now it doesn't bother me too much. Hopefully it'll be the same for you too.
Lucky you for having a husband that helps! Mine would only make the house messier. When I was ill in pregnancy I let him cook once and he made me a frozen pizza and he dropped it on the floor thinking I wouldn't notice. When I tried to eat it it was covered in fluff and hair. He denied dropping it for about an hour and then fessed up saying he wouldn't escape this one. I was also in hospital with my daughter for 4 nights and came back to what looked like a rubbish tip. The first thing I did was clean. Give hubby a pat on the back from me!
You have been unwell, of course you are going to feel down. Just give yourself time to recover. Health visitors and midwives can speak from their bottoms sometimes. Mine were always down my throat, especially since my dd was under a child protection plan down to me having aspergers I was nagged to hell. They wanted me to get up every day at 8am in the morning when my daughter was 2 weeks old and they said to me I 'wasn't coping'. Talk about retarded.
Maybe the fact you have a baby also hasn't sunken in. It took my Sister said it took her 18 months.
Well, I didn't feel like a mum until my DD started talking and called me mum. It seemed to creep up on me over time - one of those things when if someone keeps telling you something you'll eventually believe it! Until then, I just felt that I was going through the motions.
You probably appear to everyone else as though you are obviously a mum, in the same way that you look at others, and no doubt some of those really capable people that you describe, feel exactly the same as you.
It's a lot to adjust to, and I think it's quite normal to feel quite inadequate most of the time - it's not as if babies come with an instruction manual afterall!
Oh, I'm glad to know I'm not alone!
Good point about not seeing the Mums who are holed up at home; I guess I go out and see Mums with little babies and know I wasn't doing that, and my friends have all been out and about early.
And I hadn't thought about that DD will be calling me Mum -- I hope I believe her ! I find myself sometimes asking DH if he thinks she likes me. Which is silly because I know she wants to be with me constantly, although she's happy with DH if I can sneak away.
And, yes, DH is absolutely great! I feel so lucky, as I hadn't expected that at all as he was very ambivalent about kids, but he has been so gracious about all the help I need. So funny about the pizza DH did cook, although he only cleaned just enough to have a free space and new plates. It was like an industrial clean-up in the kitchen when I finally could do things.
It's only just started to click for me. My ds is nearly 13 months. I had bad ptsd and it wasn't until I'd had 2 months of cbt counselling that it felt real and that I was a mummy, not just the person who'd given birth and cared for this great little boy.
But no-one except dh and my mum would have known anything was wrong, because I suppressed everything and acted like I was fine, all the while blaming myself for not responding properly to my baby, but that wasn't true, I just couldn't see/remember how it really was. Have you spoken to anyone about how the birth went? I know the emcs really affected my bond with ds. xx
I don't know if this will make sense but I was tootling up to the attic (where I keep my children ) last week at 2am to check on DS2, as he'd been having nose bleeds in the day, and I though 'wow, this is a real mother thing to do' and I realised that I am a mother, a proper grown up mum who loses sleep to check on her babies. My eldest son will be 13 on Saturday the other two are 10 and 6. I'm not being silly or joking, I just finally felt like a 'mother' not some random woman in charge of children. Whether this makes any sense I don't know, maybe I've finally grown up!
That does make sense, lost. I've been feeling tiny hints -- like finding a nappy in my purse or DD's teething rings in my jacket pocket and realise that if I wasn't a Mum, clearly those things wouldn't be there. But they're objects, and feel external. What you describe is something you did, so that makes a lot of sense.
I guess one of the things that gets me is people ask, "How do you like being a Mum?" and I want to respond, "A Mum, really? I don't think so..." As I just don't quite feel like I deserve the title, or something. I'm perfectly happy if they ask, "How is DD?" or even, "How is life with DD?" and I'll gush about how much fun she is.
The bit about acting all fine sounds so familiar, makescakes -- although I wonder if my moment of stun after the "being a Mum" question might look odd. I actually feel pretty good about the birth, as I felt like everyone really kept me in the loop, although the aftercare was really poor. I can't think about those days in the hospital too deep without wanting to cry. I did talk a bit about it to DH in the first weeks, although everything was really taken up with DD's trouble gaining weight and my insistence that something else other than just me being stressed was wrong, and finally her operation and the aftercare for that. Probably those whole two months have quite effected me, as in addition to what I've said above, DD wasn't gaining like she should (because she had TT!) and the MW and HV were telling me that I wasn't producing enough milk because I was worrying about it too much, and that I had to relax. So I got caught in this awful loop of worrying about worrying and trying to stop and being convinced that I was starving my baby--which just was like more evidence for how I really wasn't doing very well at this Mum thing.
I now know that was completely wrong, but the beliefs still hang around. (Ugh, and now I remember more stuff, like how the MW didn't believe that I had mastitis, even when I was near-delerious with fever and had nasty red patches and even after I ended up at emergency in the middle of the night and they told me I had it and prescribed antibiotics -- she wanted to me to stop taking them! And I took them the shortest time possible because she told me to stop, and then I got mastitis again.). Right, not sure I should follow these thoughts too much.
Anyway, I do feel quite connected to DD, so I think I am good there. Sometimes I even get frustrated with DH when it's obvious to me what she wants but he can't seem to figure it out. I just don't feel like I fit whatever I think a Mum is supposed to be. But good to hear that I'm not the only one! It makes me feel like I actually might be a Mum, if other Mums don't feel like Mums either, if that makes sense.
Hah. I could have written your post. The delivery was fine, even the emcs which I hadn't wanted, but the moment I was wheeled out of the operating theatre I was made to feel a nuisance and given no help. I kept having flashbacks and getting tearful and only counselling helped and then I discovered that I had been projecting my feelings of vulnerability, feeling ignored and being a nuisance onto my baby and felt that I was the perpetrator of those things for him...if that makes any sense?
Once I could examine the situation clearly and focused on all the good things I had done for my baby and that I had had good instincts and followed them right from the start, this great big weight lifted and our relationship altered. Again, the outside world wouldn't have known, but I finally felt like I 'got it'.
My hv is currently helping me draft a letter of complaint about the way I was treated in hospital.
Please pm me if you want to talk more xx
DS is five and a half and sometimes I still think "who, me?!" when he calls for mommy.
I remember once a few years back he got sick at daycare, and I brought him home and helped him into pj's and got him snuggled with his favorite blanket and a sick bowl on the couch...and all the while I was thinking "look at me, doing this mom stuff!"
Part of it for me is that I expected motherhood to change me, and in many ways it has, but I'm really still fundamentally me. So sometimes it doesn't feel "real" iyswim.
OP, it sounds like you've had a really rough time. I'm sure you're a lovely mum! It'll take time.
I was only talking to my dm about this the other day - I have 2dds, and drive a people carrier. I just have this real urge to laugh sometimes, as I load the dcs into car seats, pack up the pushchair and take the wheel of this thing. "Don't they all know I'm pretending"!
Since having dd (10 months) I have been constantly surprised by the fact that I am her mother. Every now and again I shock myself with the realisation that I have to look after her...forever! I half expect her real perents to turn up and take her away, and me and dp will go back to our lives. I know this sort of sounds awful but I really do adore her. I would say with every ounce of truth that I loved her the moment I saw her and would be devestated beyond belief not to be with her but that doesn't seem to stop me finding it impossible to comprehend being a parent.
I have similar feelings about other parts of my life though. I often find myself at work waiting for someone to realise I don't know what I'm doing and don't belong there. This is despite knowing, when I think objectively, that I worked my socks off to get this career and am actually rather good at it.
It took me a long time to settle into the idea of really being a mum (and especially being old enough to e a mum - though I'm not that young!)
It's easier now I have DS2.
A book I enjoyed is What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen, looking at everything you do do, but which you probably don't feel add up to much.
I'm finally starting to feel like a mum - dd1 was 13 today .....
Same here. I don't feel like a mother at all. But I love DD to bits. She's 21mo.
Traumatic birth but I don't think that's the cause. I've always been a tomboy and never imagined I'd ever have a child. I guess it takes time for the mind to catch up - a bit like an amputee still dreaming they have a leg?
DS1 is 15 months & DS2 is due in June & I'm still convinced I'm just the babysitter & keep expecting his 'real' mum to come pick him up! I had a proper mummy-moment the other day when I was sewing elastic onto his mittens so he doesn't lose them. It just suddenly hit me that it's the sort of thing that only a parent does. It seemed like such a profound realisation that I called my mum to tell her! She just said, "Err... Well, you are a mother...!"
DD turned 2 in November and I don't feel like a mum. What really is a mum? I'm a person who has a child!
Sometimes I even feel a bit like a robot. Most of this week has been constant cleaning up after DD. Sometimes I just give up because it's NEVER going to be tidy or 'nice'.
Then the thought pops into my head that if I don't constantly tidy, read books, play games, colour, feed, etc - Then I am failing in this role of "mum".
I know logically that is ridiculous, but I also have those "if she can, why can't I?" thoughts.
I don't feel like a Mum either. Ds is 22m and dd 4m. I agree that a lot of the time I just feel like a person who is looking after them. I love them to bits, and can't remember life pre dc, but in a strange way it just feels as though this is a new 'job' I've taken where i need to provide tor them and feels temporary... Which in a way it is as parenting toddlers is different to older dc to teenagers etc... I never considered that I was strange fir feeling that way but am now re-evaluating this...
I've felt this about loads of bits of my life - like I'm in a book and watching myself. I even remember at infant school thinking "and Ozziegirly was sent to the corridor, and all for jumping off the top step. She felt sad about this unfair punishment".
Felt the same at Uni, at work - I'm a lawyer and would get a big dose of "is this really my life?!"As I would walk into court.
And as a mum, well it surprises me when I find myself taking the harder but ultimately "correct" decision (eg, no biscuits for breakfast, no you can't eat the sand etc".)
Join the discussion
Please login first.