Nurse: Congratulations Mama!! Here is your beautiful baby girl, you can hold her. No no no, not like that – like this, put her on your chest. Are you not familiar with skin to skin? Place her a little closer to the boobs; that’s it! Can we call the baby’s father to come in now? (I had my husband thrown out of the birthing room – story for another day).
Me: Yes… you… Can. (I think this nurse can see that I am not happy. What a way to kick start motherhood. The pressure is on) I thought to myself.
25 February 2015! I remember that day very well, the day I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Sibonginkosi. It wasn’t the happiest day of my life. Firstly, when I took my child from the nurse I was in shock. Secondly, I was scared. Motherhood was not how I planned it (Yes, already!), what am I saying – I didn’t plan it; I mean we didn’t plan it. Okay, what I am trying to say is that it was not loved at first experience.
The pressure to be a happy mom
Children are a blessing from the Lord…… I did not feel blessed even though I knew I was. You see, I was 23 going on 24 when I gave birth to my girlfriend (daughter) and I barely had my own life figured out. I resigned from my job in Cape Town and moved back home to uMlazi because I did not want to leave my daughter at home after she was born to work at a different province (separation anxiety). I didn’t stay with my mom when I was growing up and I wasn’t about to let history repeat itself. My mind was made up, I was staying and no job or honors degree was going to change my mind.
The pressure made me miss my old life
I had my moments of missing my old life. Oops, did I say that in public?! Oh well! Finally, I am owning up to it, 5 years later. I feel at liberty to do that now and I didn’t 5 years ago. My peers were progressing and I felt the pressure (FOMO). As time passed, I thought of the progress I would have made with my studies and the experience I would have gained had I taken the job. Nobody understood that! I mean, my baby daddy did not leave me he asked me to be his wife and our daughter was a healthy, happy baby – so I was ‘supposed’ to be happy and grateful!!
The unhappy Mom with depression
Most of the time I was sad and it didn’t help I lost my mom when my daughter was 2 months old. I was in such a state that I did not see the possibility of enjoying motherhood, crying when no one was there. I was exhausted and sleep-deprived and I shared my feelings with a lady who told me it was normal for new moms to feel like that. As a result, the pressure to be a happy mother just escalated as I failed to be ‘normal’ and felt like I was failing my daughter day in and day out. You can guess what was going on with me, yes I was suffering from postpartum depression! However, I just didn’t realize it until my daughter was 7 months old. I struggled with P.P.D. in silence because I didn’t know. It was normal right!!
Pressure aside, how can I be a happy mom?
A few months later, I was planning my wedding and filled with good vibes but I was still not happy. In search of happiness here is what I found out:
- You need to be a happy individual – I realized there was more to my lack of happiness than the demands of motherhood. I was unhappy with myself as an individual. Healthy eating, exercising, and bible journaling are habits I adopted to work on myself.
- You don’t have to suffer in silence – Asking for help is not a shame. Seek assistance and communicate your struggles with someone you trust. Professional help is available.
- You have to focus on the good – Gratitude! Not everything is bad in your life, though it might seem that way. Practice gratitude daily to keep yourself focused on the things you do have. Here is an app to get you started.
I think the expectation of being happy as a new mom is overrated and I wish I knew that as a new mom 5 years ago. Did you feel pressured as a new mom? Share with us in the comments.