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When becoming a mum isn't always the fairytale you anticipated
Through our Journey to Parenthood series, we are exploring various paths to parenthood and the journey of parenthood itself. Showing different perspectives of how there is never a straight-forward route and going through tough times, especially as a Mum, can be completely overwhelming.
There are twists and turns that many of our Dribble Community have been brave enough to share with us. There are some exceptional and inspiring stories in the series and we hope they bring comfort, understanding and acceptance to you, and maybe even open you to alternative experiences, as you hear what other parents have to say.
We are continuing with our story series hearing a moving story. R (wishes to remain anonymous) became a first-time mum in her early 20s; she shares her very moving story of how becoming a mum wasn’t the fairy tale she had anticipated it to be and how after a traumatic birth experience, she quite quickly became a single mum and ended up in a homeless house. Despite a rough start to motherhood, R is now flourishing and is now expecting her third child. This brave, inspiring lady, shares her experience of overcoming an extremely tough start to motherhood, co-parenting and how you never stop learning as a mum. Read her story below…
I would like to share my story as prior to this all happening to me, I had a very fantasy/movie based view of what having a baby would be. And unfortunately that just wasn’t my story.
I became a mummy on the 11th of December 2013 when my first son was born. It was a long 16 hour induction labour. When I met L, I loved him immediately. I felt a sense of knowing him all of my life and I actually said to him ‘of course it was going to be you’. I felt all the typical rush of love you read and hope for. Then quite quickly after giving birth, I had a very large post-partum haemorrhage. A calm room suddenly became packed full of people. Life was quite literally draining from me. It ended as quick as it started. I got stitched up and then eventually sent to the labour ward. I couldn’t produce any colostrum or stand up at all.
Two days later I was a hysterical mess thinking I was going to kill my baby, as I hadn’t fed him fully since birth. I had a blood test done (2 days after giving birth) and my haemoglobin was at 60, which is extremely low, so I had a blood transfusion immediately. This was all very stressful and I felt constantly in the dark. No one actually told me why I had haemorrhaged and it wasn’t until I met a consultant in the pregnancy of my second child that I found out I hadn’t been cared for properly.
I went home to start this new chapter of being a mum. Cutting a long story short, the ‘attacks’ that I had been having during pregnancy, that the triage team kept saying was indigestion, turned out to be a gall stone stuck in my bile duct. I was rushed back into hospital to the surgical ward. The stone being in my bile duct had resulted in pancreatitis. I had my first night away from L on NYE when he was 2 weeks old. I pretty much sobbed myself to sleep. Eventually I was discharged and home to again start my new role as mummy…
Then, unfortunately on my first mother’s day, my son’s dad decided he did not want to be in a relationship with me anymore. Everything fell apart from that point. L and I became homeless when he was 7 months old. We moved into a homeless house then 8 days later were given a council flat. It was absolutely disgusting. I lost all my baby weight through stress and anxiety alone. We slept at my mums and I drove the 35 minute drive every night after I put L to bed (and my mum stayed home with him) so I could go to our flat and strip walls, paint, gloss, scrub everything down.
We finally moved in around the end of September after a labour of love trying to get this previous drug den to become an actual home. I am not exaggerating the drug den comment, the neighbours told me the history of the property and a warrant for someone’s arrest was put through the door one day. I had to go to the local police station and prove I was not this person and that I had no idea where they were. Fun fun!!
We had issues with gas and electricity, as the previous box had been tampered with. We slept in one room and had no flooring for months until I could get each room into a liveable condition. It was physically and emotionally draining but every day I worked hard to make a home for my son.
I tried my best to maintain a positive relationship with my son’s dad, as growing up with separated parents who hated each other, I knew exactly how much we could ruin his life by playing games and potentially using our son as a weapon. So, regardless of any personal hurt feelings I put every effort in to make sure my son had positive relationships with both his parents and families.
It was and still is something I feel is extremely important and never my right to take away. I hit a lot of criticism for my choices from most people around me. ‘I wouldn’t be doing that..’ etc etc. Words hurt. But I had a goal and that was to raise a loved kid so regardless of any opinions I pursued what I believed was the right path.
One day, I went on Tinder after a few good friends told me to try it for my confidence. At 24, homeless, with a 7 month old baby. I didn’t exactly think much of myself anymore. I was dedicated to being a great mum but I couldn’t see how anyone would be interested in dating me…the mess that I was.
Then I met K.
K changed my life, just like L had. L had taught me unconditional love. Natural and all consuming. K came into my life and showed me my worth. He had absolutely no reason to get involved with a girl who had a baby and no home at the time. I had a ‘baby daddy’, drama coming out my ears. I had baggage and he had none. I had a massive distrust of men and the world. He took it all on.
Five years later we have bought our own house and I gave the council flat back. We had a son together and are expecting another baby this year. Becoming a mum was not the journey I expected at all. Hard just isn’t the word. While others were at baby groups I was at homeless meetings. It changed my life. I grew up and I learned how to be a mum through the hardest time of my life. It was worth it all for where our family is now.
Everything happens for a reason!!!
A lot happened to me in my first year of being a mum. I didn’t know anyone who had had anything close to my story when I was going through it all. I felt like a failure. Like my life was over. I had no support from health visitors or any professionals. I very much learned who my friends were. And even though it was the worst time of my life, being a mum gave me the motivation and power to get up and fight every day. I needed to change our stars, so I did everything in my power to do that. This included working full time in order to get a permanent post so we had financial security. Five years later my career has grown and I work part time now.
I’m really proud that L has a brilliant relationship with both families and very much has two homes. But co-parenting is not easy, you do need to work at it.
You get a million books, apps and groups based on parenting, but there’s not much out there for co-parenting. The emotional, financial and day to day challenges of starting and continuing a good co-parenting relationship is super hard. I have never found any source of support. I work closely with health visitors in the health centre I work in. I have considered setting up something myself to help others. As I personally would have benefited from the experience of others, what they had done that worked and didn’t work. How they coped etc. For example, I share L 50/50 on birthdays and Christmas every year. It’s never got any easier but it’s the right thing to do for both parents and him.
The first year I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t feel like I was a real Mum as I had given my son away on such a special day. I got so many negative opinions hurled at me for the decision to do that but never from anyone who is actually co-parenting at the time. It’s led to me not really telling people about these sort of choices. There are so many blended families, single parent families etc now. But, society still looks for the 2.4 family dynamic. I would just love there to be something available that people could tap into for advice, real life stories and perspectives. It’s not always easy to see the other parents point of view.
This has always been a grey area for me and can be really quite isolating.
I have continued to learn how to be a mum and even in expecting baby number 3, I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning. I want other women to know that they can do what I did.
They can be happy. Use the love you have for your babies, as motivation and you can be happy. You can be whatever you want to be!! Cheesy but true
It’s really emotional but I really want other parents to know that even if it all doesn’t go to plan, you can still be a great mum and be happy.
When I had L I was on a zero hour contract, so I had no financial security, as to how much was coming in each month. I took a full time permanent post when L was 15 months old. I did that for 6 months until I couldn’t cope with the stress, mum guilt and juggle anymore. I reduced my hours and over time and a lot of hard work I have then gone on to get a promotion and work the hours that suit my family.
I think especially on social media, motherhood can often come across very pink and fluffy. It’s not always that way.
Showing the reality of women’s experiences will hopefully get rid of the Mum shaming and instead promote and encourage support.
I have never written my story down before and although I’m really nervous of sharing it, if it helps even one person who has been or is going though something similar then it will be worth it.
If you can relate to this story and would like to connect with other parents in your situation, our Dribble Facebook Community is full of advice, support, chat, events and much more to meet other Scottish families. We also try to take the online offline too by arranging some Dribble events, including our monthly Breastfeeding Meet-up.
Remember you’re not alone.
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