Autumn Benjamin welcomed her first child into the world with relish, but the experience was also hugely painful and overwhelming. Sound familiar? We thought so!
Autumn took to Facebook to ponder the highs, lows and blindsides when it comes to talking about the transformation from woman to Layla’s mum.
“The ultimate sacrifice”
Autumn wanted to shine a light on the “hard parts of the aftermath of giving birth, and the ultimate sacrifice that mothers make from day one,” she said. Embodying those very things, she uploaded an image of her two-days-postpartum self to Facebook, and unpacked some very complicated, tender and heartfelt thoughts on how tricky these early days can be.
“This was 2 days after I gave birth to Layla … I was in new territory,” Autumn admitted. “Learning to breastfeed this little human being that I just brought into the world. Wearing these big mesh panties, still sporting a pregnant belly. No one told me your belly doesn’t go down immediately. No one told me I’d be bleeding out. No one told me that I would spend hours crying and full of emotion.”
“No one tells you that typically with a “quick delivery” comes a bad rip. I ripped all the way up and down, and also side to side. The weeks following I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use the bathroom. I wore these big depends diapers. I never thought I would be normal again.”
Understanding postnatal depletion on Kinderling Conversation:
Be careful what you wish for?
Autumn notes that at a time when she most wanted to be taking things in her stride, she felt as helpless as her newborn. Her husband Kevin “had to help me do EVERYTHING from pee, to walk up stairs.”
The gravity of what she’d been through and what lay ahead hit Autumn hard, and she admitted it was scary to have her baby out in the world, rather than tucked safely inside.
“Being a mom is the ultimate sacrifice. You give up your body for 9 months to grow this little baby. You go through labor and delivery. You go through the emotions that come with childbirth. You let go of all shame as you walk around your house in diapers and ask your significant other to spray warm water on your rip while you pee to avoid that burn. You spend tireless hours latching your baby and feeding your baby to establish and keep up your milk supply because you want to breastfeed so. damn. bad.”
To be clear the struggle is very gosh darned real – and new mum life is not all soft-focus, peachy baby-snuggling montages.
“Don’t ever discredit a mother”
The perception of motherhood is often so very far from reality. Couple physical shifts with some huge adjustments of priorities and the learning curve is steep, to say the least.
Autumn says that this is a particularly vulnerable time, and that the last thing a woman needs is judgement or criticism.
“You remain patient through leaps, growth spurts, and cluster feeding. But most importantly, moms give up who they were before they were a mother. Most moms give up a lot of their hobbies, dreams, and plans. Moms put their lives on hold so their babies can live out theirs. We deal with so many emotions that we internalize – just so we can be mothers to our babies. Don’t ever discredit a mother. You don’t know the half. I used to be Autumn. Fun loving, crazy, outgoing Autumn. But now I’m Layla’s mama. And I’m okay with that.”
If you – or someone you know – are expecting a baby or have recently become a parent, and are finding things super-tough, please get in touch with the good folk at PANDA. They’re on standby, ready to support mums and dads through difficult times.
This post originally appeared on Babyology.com.au.