Seven weeks in, and, ugh. I thought week six was 10 fire flame emojis (as in BEHN! not Yasss! ) Week 7 is when the 6 weeks of sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and other wahala actually catch up with you. I am so tired, I feel unstable. It’s so bad, I saw a picture of Drake and I thought he looked fly. I don’t know, but I think I’m losing it.
Im over here humming Umswenkofontein and the chorus to Bitch Better Have My Money to my daughter because I’m out of lullabies.
I had my first child close to 20 months ago, and I’d almost completely forgotten what a long ting the first twelve weeks can be. I don’t know why or how I forgot something so hectic. It’s like my brain just blanked it out, but it’s all coming back to me now.
I know that each child is different, and that not all mums have a hard time in the first few months of their children’s lives. I also know that the hard times are so worth it (for the most part). I just don’t think that there are many mums who don’t experience any difficulty at all. I think a lot of us forget the hardship, or, the memory of it softens with time. There’s also some projection that goes down, but that’s another story.
Maybe that’s why older womyn sometimes give bad advice to new mums, like, “chin up, it’s not so bad” or “Just be strong” – because they’ve forgotten their own frustrations and anxieties of those early days.
Even though I’m a professional birther (being a mother of 2 no be small ting, o) and I’ve been through this before, I’m afraid to say that it isn’t necessarily easier the second time around, but I do remember that this phase passes and things do get infinitely better. I’d like to share my survival tips. It’s all quite obvious stuff, but even the most obvious and simple things feel impossible when you’re exhausted and feeling down.
1. Ask for help.
Speak up when you’re feeling overwhelmed and need a hand. Some people start to think of harming themselves or baby, some just constantly feel tired. You are likely to fall somewhere within that spectrum at some point, and it’s ok. Hopefully you aren’t entirely alone in this world, and you have people who will step up and assist you when you ask (and people who will offer help). Say what you need, and don’t be apologetic about your needs. You deserve a break. You deserve support.
Set a schedule for yourself for your daily tasks. Try to eat, shower, rest etc at around the same time every day, and do things in more or less the same order. Having a routine means you can tick things off as minor and major victories in a day, plus you remember the basics, like staying hydrated. I believe routine is so important for mums and babies. It provides consistency in daily life, so no matter what happens, you know what to look forward to next.
3. Talk it out.
Communicate your feelings. Speak with your partner or someone you trust, about what you’re going through. Get stuff off your chest. Cry. Whatever. Just don’t suffer in silence.
It’s also a good idea to get counselling, even if you feel totally fine. You can see a psychologist or call Lifeline, SADAG or any other organisation that provides mental health and counselling services.
4. Cut yourself some slack.
You will feel pressure to do everything perfectly all the time, and you will feel guilty, A LOT. Breathe through those feelings. Find ways to ease your daily burdens, like, do your home shopping online, that way you don’t have to a) put pants on b) leave the house c) face the world. Take it easy. Eat well (and treat yourself).
When baby sleeps, you sleep.
When someone can take baby off your hands – sleep.
If you have to make a decision whether to do something or sleep? Choose sleep.
Add nap times to your daily schedule.
Even if you don’t fall asleep, just put your body on your bed and lay still.
One day, when your offspring has grown beautifully, and you’re feeling good in clothes that aren’t sweatpants or pyjamas, you will look back at this phase and not remember it very well. Small mercies.