(Below is information that was on the Mothers Be Heard website - before Your Storyline had been concieved. For an understanding of this context see MBH The Story.)
MBH Your Story submissions
Most of the submissions below came from the main Your Story section on mothersbeheard.com but I have also included submissions made to the ART (IVF) Mums section of Your Story:
You Might Never Have Children
Just Want to Say Hi...
Not What I Expected
Decided Not to Tell
A Well Meaning Mother
Myself as a Mother - A Struggle
Motherhood Second Time Round
What Do We Tell Our Children?
When Your Children Aren't Babies Anymore
Positive Light by Trish
Before motherhood I was a work-a-holic, shopping legend, party animal with a goal to travel to as many countries as often as possible (OS 6 times in two years!). Just before I got pregnant, my father became gravely ill, which totally rocked my world. It was at this point in which I had a huge life reassessment and wicked self indulgent ways came to an end. I saw that life itself was now the gift, not all of those things which I once found so important. My pregnancy was bitter sweet, as I was watching my beautiful father get sicker and loosing his fight for life, while I was growing a new life inside of me. Against the odds, my father lived to meet his grandson but to my devastation, died shortly afterwards. I miss my dad terribly and am sure that I would have totally fallen apart had I not had a little person to rely on me.
My baby is my positive light which gives so much happiness for me and my gorgeous supportive husband. There are those days when I miss the excitement, personal time, interaction & money of my old life. Going from a clever career girl to the ‘changing nappies house maid’ is a big change, but the ‘sense of whole’ and personal joy I get from my little baby is something which I would not swap for any massive salary package offered. I know that my identity is not lost - it is just in the process of being reinvented into a new and better model.
photograph © Kate Elms from 'Being Mummy'
You Might Never Have Children by Sue
All I ever wanted to be was a Mum....One doctor's appointment looked to destroy that with a well meaning but ill informed doctor telling me "you might never have children". This is where my journey began, being told that you might never have children isn't the ideal start.
Anyway, after many appointments, failed fertility treatment, raging hormones, invasive procedures, a stressful and frightening pregnancy later we became parents to a beautiful boy Sam! I've never been so happy or relieved in my life. He is perfect in everyway and when he was 9 months old we decided to put ourselves through it all again and we were lucky enough to be given a beautiful little girl, Jessica. Our family was complete, we were the happiest we had ever been.
Then we noticed that Sam wasn't like other children and so began our journey to get the help we needed for our beautiful "perfect" son. The journey continues today and I'm still the luckiest Mum to have two beautiful children but being a Mum is the hardest job in the world and I wonder some days if it will ever get easier. I think the answer is NO but I wouldn't change it for anything.
Having my children has changed the direction of my life and taken me on a journey that I would never of imagined for myself, one of advocacy, political agendas and a completely different career. I'm thankful everyday for my children.
Rocky Start by Anonymous
After reading the stories above, my memory is cast back 5 years to the birth of my 1st child named L. This is where 'the guilt' began. Thankfully I experienced a text book pregnancy and natural birth but as a thirty something, independent perfectionist I wrongly believed I had this motherhood business all figured out.
The cot was assembled, the calming ocean theme mobile hanging overhead and pristine white singlets were neatly folded and stacked in pretty painted, and of course, stencilled drawers. I had read parenting books cover to cover, naively sniggered that tantrums only happened to ill prepared parents, and finally I sat back and dreamed of leisurely strolls with a contented, sleeping and happy baby. This is how I had approached every situation in my life thus far and my organisational skills had served me well. I had no reason to think motherhood would be any different. WRONG...Initially I was completely overwhelmed by absolutely everything ranging from the most awful sleep deprivation to my inability to just get on top of housework and the like. I suffered real feelings of resentment towards the baby (he had taken away my life) and even briefly considered adoption, however this was not an option of an adoptee. These unresolved feelings of resentment only lead to even greater feelings of the worst of all human emotions - the dreaded guilt. I constantly questioned myself as to why such a capable person like me was struggling and why wasn't I enjoying my baby like all the other mothers appeared to be. Mostly I spent those early days attending to tedious daily tasks and staring blankly at a baby that was quite honestly just plain downright boring for the most part. I felt like a caged animal, trapped and unable to break free.
So just imagine all these emotions are running rampant inside my mind but somehow all the while I plastered on a numb smile and pretended to everyone who loved and cared about me that I was not only managing well but just loving motherhood as it was so rewarding (choke, gag). I'm shaking my head in disbelief as I write.
Fast forward five years and here I am with not one but two children; a boy and a girl now aged 5 and 2 and wait for it; enjoying them. The introduction to motherhood for me was a rough and bumpy ride but I'm pleased to be able to say with a real smile that it was definitely worth it. I'm certainly not the same person I was BC but I have maintained my identity with a careful balance of work (sometimes), kids and hobbies. My cleaning/tidying standards have dropped significantly, and surprisingly I've learned to live with a little more mess in my life. The journey is far from over and I constantly face new challenges (school etc) but have realised it is the support and practical help from friends and family that have made the difference. I now accept help (guilt free) when it is offered and I try to provide the same community spirit wherever I can. Remember it takes a whole community to raise a child.
Changing Faces by Aunty K
Somehow I'm into the second decade of motherhood and it just keeps changing! I'm grateful for good health and good supports to keep up with my children and their interests. It's been a rollercoaster and I have the feeling that the ride is far from over. I have the feeling that I need to keep fit and alert for the task ahead. The first year of mothering was transformational.
I felt like I was connecting to a wonderful kind of women's mafia almost, but the flip side was that sudden new vulnerability: every child on the planet could be mine and I FELT that in new and scary ways. For instance: H and I went to see a the film Trainspotting and I was undone completely for days after because of the death of the infant by neglect in that flick. Now I'm doing a new step in the squeeze with trying to keep something of my career happening, aged parents, teens and preens (and all their friends!) in my house, working on a marriage that's great but now 20plus year along and trying to pay the bills.......somewhere there's got to be some space for me......... Overall...I think being flexible is a great skill if you have it and a sense of humour........
Just Want To Say Hi... by About Wee
Hi fellow mums, This is my first time to this forum so wanted to say "Hi". I am an early-thirty year old mum of a ten month old little girl that we have affectionately called Flappy - because of way she demonstrates her happiness & excitement. I recently made the decision to not go back to full time employment. So I am now officially unemployed. But as you all know, I am far from bored!
About six weeks after my daughter was born (& she was four weeks prem) I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I'm at the point where I can say it has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me, but it has taken a lot of hard work, therapy & support for me to do so.
Not What I Expected by Jasmine
I really wanted to have a child and be a mother, but I can't say the transition was easy for me. For starters my little boy had reflux - both silent and projectile. This meant that he was pretty unsettled, had screaming fits and created lots of washing when he vomited. The reflux started settling when he was 5months old and on solids and it was then that I could see that he really had a lovely personality and it was the reflux that had made him grizzly.
The other challenging aspect of early motherhood for me was that he didn't attach to the breast. I tried and tried to do the breastfeeding thing because I really wanted to give my baby the best food and I (wrongly) thought that it should be such a natural/ easy thing to do. I went to the breastfeeding clinic and used nipple shields which just made my nipples bleed and HURT. I came to absolutely dreading the one feed in the day that he had on the breast. The other times I sat like a cow on a machine and expressed milk 4hourly - my husband doing the night feeds while I expressed. I felt like such a failure that I couldn't breastfeed my own baby - why couldn't I do what everyone else seemed to do effortlessly?? The expressing got heaps harder in the day once my husband went back to work. My baby just screamed for the 15 long minutes it took to express because no one could hold him and jig him around which was the only thing that settled him a bit. I also started feeling like I was on tender hooks because often my baby would only nap for 10minutes in the day before my heart sank at the sound of his screaming knowing that I wouldn't even be able to go to the toilet properly, let alone have a shower.
I thought that having a baby would be busy but I didn't think that it wouldn't be very enjoyable. I felt guilty for thinking this and for my decision to stop expressing after 6weeks and put him on the bottle. The 'Breast is Best' message was so strong that it was with absolute relief that my kind neighbour asked me if I'd be able to pick who was breastfed and who was bottle-fed from a school photo. What an angel she was for saying that!!! She was right, and helped me see the bigger picture. For a perfectionist this baby thing seemed to be full of things that I couldn't control and my life was completely overtaken with looking after this little person. I don't think I expected life to be like this and was a bit shell shocked by it all. I still feel a bit eclipsed by motherhood at times, but at least there are a lot more good moments now.
photograph © Mick Bradley from 'Being Mummy'
Decided Not To Tell by Anonymous
Thanks to IVF we have a BEAUTIFUL 8 month old daughter who is now the centre of our world and each day we look at her and feel so blessed. We fell pregnant using the ICSI technology and were incredibly lucky to fall pregnant in the 1st cycle. I know we are one of the lucky one's and my heart goes out to all couples going through the IVF treadmill.
I sometimes look back and reflect on what we have been through and how far we have come. I remember it like it was yesterday sitting in the Dr's surgery when we were told my husband had no sperm - not that there was a few but actually NO sperm. From there it was an anxious 2 week wait to see the fertility specialist and like when you buy a new car, you look for your car on the road - well everywhere we looked we saw these kids and happy families. It was like rubbing salt in a wound and was so hurtful. Friends all around us were falling pregnant and it seemed to be so easy for them. We kept thinking why us, what did we do wrong.
Now after coming as far as we have and wanting more children our worries have expanded to can we have more children, will we be lucky again, can we afford it, how long emotionally can we put ourselves through it. We have several embryo's frozen which we already consider our children - what happens to them, I can't destroy them????? I don't think anyone can understand what you are going through until they have experienced it themselves.
For this reason my husband and I decided not to tell anyone about our journey, I guess because we didn't want their sympathy and we didn't want them to view our daughter any different. But sometimes when I feel cheated and a little angry about it I want to tell my friends and I want their sympathy and I want them to know that they shouldn't take it for granted; how easy it is for them to get pregnant when there are so many people that have to take the long road to have kids - if at all. I want them to know that it costs us thousands of $ each attempt and that is something they will never have to complain about.
This happens in waves. but each time I look at my daughter and I am just thankful, grateful and do my best to loose the negativity. Parenting is such a life changing journey that no matter what people tell you I don't think you can be prepared until it actually happens and now we wouldn't want it any other way!!! I have chosen the colour red because to me it reflects different moods - excitement, frustration, fun, sunny, upbeat etc.
Reflux Baby by Tash
I have a 7 month old son who has an extreme case of reflux. He was born 5 weeks early and only weighed 3 pound. Not only was it a long struggle with the birth and complications thereafter, now he has reflux.
It took a while to diagnose but our paediatrician recommended a scan at the hospital which confirmed he had extreme reflux. He was chucking up all the time and screaming in pain. The doctor started him on Losec but this didn't seem to help. I was breastfeeding up until 2 days ago and giving him formula overnight. I have tried that many formulas it's not funny and now that I thought I had found "the one" he has gone backwards and the chucking is very bad, will not sleep for more than 2 hours overnight, 40 mins in total during the day.
I am physically and mentally exhausted. I hate seeing my baby so tired, yet unable to stay asleep because of the throwing up, pain etc. He is a very happy baby during the day but by the time night comes he is that exhausted from no sleep that he is miserable. I also have him on Gaviscon for the reflux. I used to always think of reflux as just a chucky baby but now I realise it is a major problem and affects your whole lifestyle and the household. Not only are you extremely tired, you are a 24 hours Laundromat as the baby throws up on everything, all day. During the day, if you can try sitting the baby up while feeding her and once finished keep her upright for as long as possible.
The reflux seems to be worse when you lay them flat. I also found that you shouldn't try and put them down for a nap straight after a feed. I had bought a wedge which basically keeps the baby in a confined space in the crib and turned him on his side. Also put a blanket or something under the crib mattress to elevate their head as this seems to help also. All of this seemed to work better when he was younger but now that he is more active and able to roll around etc it's much harder to control. Hope this helps a little! If anybody has advice please let us new mums know.
Administrators note: Reflux is indeed very taxing on everyone. If you haven't already, you can visit www.reflux.org.au and the discussion board on www.bubhub.com.au has a reflux advice section by a professional. In South Australia, there is also the Gastroenterology Nurse at the Women's and Children's Hospital: 8161 700
Incarcerated by NLee
My apologies first to those who try hard to conceive but are unsuccessful; I am not being ungrateful, just unsure how to progress forward.
BC I had a job I loved, a home in Fiji and promotion arms length away. But my choice was to get married and migrate to NZ and within the first year I had a baby, of which six months my husband was away in OZ working.
Now I am a full time mum with no transport to go out. I stay indoors all day since I find the weather too cold to go out and I am unable to call the people I love due to budget constraints. So, basically, I have minimum contact with the outside world. Not sure where I am going with this but I feel suffocated after marriage and AC. My only solace is the internet.
A Well-Meaning Mother by Kirsty Newbury
My transition into motherhood was one of the most terrifying and yet amazing experiences of my life so far. I had no idea that one little person could have so much influence on the way I saw the world, the way I saw my friends and family, and the way I saw myself. I went from being a very independent, career-focused women- completely time-rich and self-sufficient, to being a mother- indispensable, needed and completely controlled.
Of course that all got better as time went on, but no one ever tells you how emotionally draining being a mother can be. How you can be so devoid of sleep to the point of delirium, and yet blissfully contented and satisfied with your new role. How just when you think you finally have five minutes to yourself, your baby wakes up and you move without hesitation, unselfishly to attend to her needs.
I always said that the first thing they should teach you in pre-natal class to expect the unexpected. I was a well-meaning mother. I read all the books, watched all the birthing videos, went to aqua aerobics, ate well, slept well, questioned, researched and queried until I had exhausted every resource, determined to be prepared for my new life. Which is why I think I found the first six weeks of my baby girl's life so bloody hard! I tried to create routine, I tried to be 'super mum' and accompanied with the well-meaning advice from friends, family, neighbours, and people in the supermarket, I finally laid down in the foetal position (mentally of course) and exclaimed that it was all too hard (as many mothers do).
At this point, with a little external professional assistance, I threw out the books, jumped off the internet and started to follow my instincts. Miraculously, it started to get better from there. Baby Girl slept well, fed well, played more and became a delight to be around. Funnily enough, so did I! I think that being a mother has made me realise that there is no more important role, no greater social responsibility than becoming a mother. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this amazing experience to share with my partner, my friends and my family.
And the best advice I can offer to all mothers? Follow your instincts and throw the books.
Myself as a Mother - A Struggle by Yvonne
I have two wonderful boys aged 8 and 6 but the first few years of their lives were particularly hard. We move regularly with my husband's work and he is away 15 nights of every month. Unfortunately for me the moves came just after each child was born. So, not only was I adjusting to having a new person in my life, I was also trying to make new friends and create a home for our family in a new place. I found this particularly hard and suffered from depression after each birth.
But the worst part for me was the actual adjustment to being a mother. I was a workaholic until I had the boys, and found that I missed the work and the social contact. But what I missed most was also the identity that went with the work. I had spent so long being a 'worker' that I found I did not know who I was any more. Myself as a mother was a new identity and one I struggled to come to terms with. A mother is a universal entity and as most of us have them (and even if we don't) we still have a perception of what and who a mother should be and how they should behave. We judge mothers from this point of view without even realising we are doing it. I had done this myself on many occasions, but as a new mother I found it hard to be this 'mother' person that everyone expected me to be. I couldn't live up to the expectations and it was daunting.
I finally realised that I was putting too much pressure on myself. A mother is not someone we become instantly once the child is born. There is no perfect way to do anything, we must all learn as we go along and work out what works best for us and for our children. It also takes time and experience to get to be the mother that you want to be.
I am now quite comfortable with the 'mother' part of myself. I can now forgive myself for my mistakes - which we all make!! And I have learned to cope with the inevitable guilt that comes with being a working mother and trying to find the perfect balance between being the best mother, wife and worker I can be. I have found that there will never be a perfect balance as each area of your life will take precedence over the others at various times. But I make sure that no matter what happens that my children understand that Mum is a human. I'm not perfect and I try my best and that is all I can really do. Honesty with my children, I believe, helps not only me but also my children as we grow together into their adulthood.
photograph © Mick Bradley from 'Being Mummy'
Motherhood Second Time Round by Elbi
My eldest was born with Hirschbrungs disease and I now have a little boy 3 months old who was conceived via IVF, ICSI with genetic testing so that he wouldn't be born with Hirschbrungs. The testing has been successful and we have a baby with a normal bowel and he is quite delightful. Interestingly he only does a poo every 9-14 days which initially sent me into a tiz as I thought the genetic testing was unsuccessful. I have been reassured that he is behaving normally for a fully breastfed babe.
One of the most stressful times for me was deciding with my husband whether or not to have a second child as we both found parenting extremely difficult at times. I did not find the IVF process too stressful and this was partially due to the fact I had a child already and the IVF process was successful first time round.
My second labour was a fairly routine normal delivery, where I used a TNS machine for the first 4 hours and then went into hospital for a water birth. The first month was hard work with lots of sleep deprivation and the normal emotional rollercoaster. However I had lots of support overnight and managed to establish a good sleep routine for my new son.
So I am now a mother of 2 children and I am kept very busy. I feel I am able to enjoy each day and realise how much stress I endured with my daughter. I didn't enjoy much of the first 6 months of her life due to worry and going in and out of hospital. My son has helped me to understand how wonderful it is to have a little baby around. I am very relaxed about making the decision about when to return to work, this time round being a mother full time is more important to me.
What Do We Tell Our Children by Corinne
We tried naturally to conceive for six years and then underwent 2 years of ICSI. On our fourth attempt we were finally given a beautiful baby girl. She was born by C-section 4 weeks early because she stopped growing and I remember feeling cheated of a natural labour after having intervention for everything else. I now look back and believe this to be so selfish as it was in the best interests of my daughter and myself that she be delivered when and how she was. I was very relieved to be able to breast feed her - at least I COULD do something myself. We were even more surprised to find I was pregnant a year later - all by ourselves! We had a son naturally conceived and delivered 4 weeks early. (They are 16 months apart). I guess my main reason for writing here is that I would like to know what other parents are going to, or have told, their "IVF" children of how they came about. Are parents being honest or are they fudging the truth a little? I spoke to my IVF clinic and they have provided me with resources to tell my daughter although at this age she is too young to understand any of it. I guess I just want to be prepared for when the questions about where she came from begin.
When Your Children Aren't Babies Anymore by Mummy SAL
My motherhood experience has undergone yet another evolution this week when my son entered his final year of high school. The realisation that this is the last year that I will send him off looking smart in his school uniform and the last year that my children will share the experience of attending the same school everyday has left me feeling quite overwhelmed. My head understands that this is just another positive step in his life and I certainly celebrate it, however my heart feels sad for the changes at the same time. I know for a fact that I have cried more tears this week at home in an empty house than I did when the children started school, maybe because it feels like the end of an era rather than the beginning just yet. As the year gets underway I am sure I will have it all into perspective, but at the moment I feel like indulging myself for a little while before I blink and it's Valedictory Day!!!
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