Being in denial…
The one thing that I was sure of my whole life was that I wanted to become a mother. I was that little girl playing with her dolls from a very tender age. I remember going to the shop with my mom with my doll and I was concerned that people would think that I am a very young mommy! Hehe. With that being said, in July 2015 I became a real-life mom. My pregnancy that was not easy because I was really nauseous until about 19 weeks in on the journey, which is almost halfway through the pregnancy. Despite the urge to hurl, I continued believing that I had to become a mother. I stupidly assumed that motherhood would not be that difficult or bad. I also decided that I would not allow my baby to take over my life, and that I’d ensure that she would fit in to our life. Ha! What a thought! That is unfortunately not how it works.
On 27 July 2015 I had an emergency cesarean section that produced a beautiful 4.02kg baby who was healthy. Due to her weight, the medical staff wanted to measure her sugar levels every 2 hours. It was traumatic for me because they pinched her feet until they were blue of all the tests. It was then decided that my daughter would be kept overnight in ICU to make really sure she was okay, as her sugar levels kept coming down because of the fact that I really struggled breastfeeding her. In between the breastfeeding, the nurses gave my baby formula, which unfortunately messed with our intimate breastfeeding relationship. The start of my child’s life was not exactly normal or particularly peaceful.
On arriving at home, I felt a huge weight of responsibility resting on my shoulders, as my daughter was completely dependent on me. I remember asking my mom, while blinking away tears, whether she would help me raise this child because I knew I could not do this on my own. I was so overwhelmed with all the emotions that I did not even really feel or remember my husband who was there helping me all the way. I thought my mental and emotional state was part of “baby blues” and I thought it would pass quickly.
My little girl suffered from four Urinary Tract Infections very early on in her life, and she also had reflux in her kidney that pushed the urine back up and then became infected. However, after a small operation it was the end of my baby’s health challenges but not the end of this horrible state I was in.
Every day for 3 to 4 months I cried and felt helpless, I doubted my motherly love for my child, crying out to God for help because the dream of motherhood instead felt like a nightmare. My baby was not a particularly difficult child, and even though I did not complain about her, I had this continuous, relentless heaviness on me. Every little thing was a huge incident for me – I remember when I struggled putting my baby girl in her cot for a nap and she cried and I didn’t know what to do – I shook her and cried and yelled at myself PLEASE GOD JUST GET ME OUT OF THIS SITUATION! WHAT HAVE I DONE GETTING MYSELF IN THIS THING CALLED MOTHERHOOD???
We then went on holiday with family and then I hit rock bottom. My little girl woke up about every hour each night, and I had no idea what to do. I knew that the situation could not continue for much longer, as I was losing myself and could not even identify with the person staring back at me in the mirror anymore.
Trying to get my baby to sleep with medication was not the long-term answer. I also knew that the depression I was experiencing could not go on any longer. I need a doctor and a psychologist and a sleep plan. We started with the sleep plan, as my husband and I agreed on starting sleep training our daughter. We read many books and created a plan, but by then my child was already 7 months old. With consistency and the correct plan for our little girl she started sleeping through on Night 3 – and I do not exaggerate when I tell you –ever since then she has slept through. Of course she still sometimes wakes up – which is normal! But the beauty of it is that she can settle herself and drift off to sleep again by herself. Once we had fixed the sleep issue, my wellbeing was the next thing to be tackled. However, with more sleep I already started feeling like the real-life mom I yearned to be. I utilised medication recommended by my doctor, and responsibly consulted with a psychologist, and that’s when I began to heal.
As time passed, I started helping friends with their babies and realized that this hard time in my life wasn’t for nothing. It was part of my life’s purpose, so that I knew first-hand of the hardship of being a new parent, and I could relate and help others with empathy and kindness. I came to the conclusion that this was my calling, and quickly became a sleep consultant!
Now, more than a year later I help families get back to sleep and for me it is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had!