I know I’m not alone here when I say new motherhood threw me for a loop. Before my first baby was born, I was totally focused on the birth (which honestly terrified me), making sure I had everything I needed to clothe, feed, and care for him. But once he arrived — refusing to nurse or sleep — I felt absolutely blindsided.
The hardest part? There was no one there to help me. Sure, I was lucky that I had a loving partner, but as we all know, the brunt of the work in those early days generally falls on the mom, like it or not.
Every waking moment, I was consumed with caring for my child — and yet, who was caring for me? I felt lost, bewildered, exhausted, and lonely. It’s no wonder I soon found myself in the thick of postpartum anxiety.
That was almost 12 years ago now, and although I’ve since recovered — and went on to have a second child — I still remember the sting of those early months. That’s why I was so moved when I came across a recent Facebook post by Anneliese Lawton that perfectly captures that rollercoaster of emotions.
The Canadian writer and mom of two boys, age 2 and 9 months, begins her post by describing what those first few days post-birth are really like:
“After my boys were born, there were appointments,” she writes, going onto list all the things her boys were “checked” for: whether or not they had a good latch, if they were gaining weight, showed signs of jaundice, had good hearing, etc.
It’s a given that the baby gets “pokes and prods,” Lawton says. And she’s grateful to be part of a healthcare system that takes such good care of babies. But, she says, “then there was me.”
Just like I do, Lawton remembers her babies getting plenty of attention right after they were born — while she felt kind of thrown the wayside.
The post, which was shared on Lawton’s Facebook page, Grown Up Glamour, has more than 8K shares; and it’s easy to see why.
In it, she describes herself as a “first-time mom without a clue.” Sure, she was stitched up, given painkillers, and even stool softeners, but none of that addressed the emotional upheaval that new mothers often endure — and the anticipation that they would have any idea what to do when they return home with their newborns.
Lawton writes that she felt “thrown into motherhood with the expectation my instincts would kick in.” It was as though she was just supposed to intuitively handle all the things herself, because she was a mom now. (If only it were that easy, right?)
But it was the last bit of Lawton’s post that really drove everything home for me. Her powerful words read almost like a poem:
“Our world forgets about mothers.
We slip through the cracks.
We become background noise.
And in that we learn our role … our place in our family unit … to always come last.
Folks, we can’t put mothers last.
Our babies need us.
To be healthy.
To know that we are worthy.”
Yes, girl. YES.
There needs to be so much more attention paid to new mothers. We need to go back to a time when all new moms had the whole village come over to tend to her — making her meals, walking and bouncing her fussy baby while she slept, and showing her the ins and outs of breastfeeding, diaper changing, and soothing.
Lawton tells Babble that she’s blown over by the response to her post, and that the inspiration came to her in a rather unusual way.
“I recently had a benign-mixed tumor removed from my parotid gland,” Lawton shares. During her hospital stay, she noticed how much attention and follow-up she received. “I had a nurse assigned to me, and I saw my surgeon in two weeks.”
In her mind, Lawton compared this experience to her hospital stays when her two babies were born — and was surprised when she realized how much more care was given to her for her tumor surgery than when she’d had her babies. (Even her most recent birth, which was a C-section.)
“When I had my C-section in January, there wasn’t anyone calling me to see how my recovery, or a nurse to check and clean my stitches, and my follow-up with my OB was 8 weeks after surgery,” Lawton recalls. “I found it interesting how my tumor surgery had so much follow-up … they bandaged me, sent me home with materials to take care of my wound (an 8 inch incision) and [gave me] nursing care.”
Lawton points out that while the healthcare system where she lives in Canada is pretty wonderful for the most part, she feels that there’s a missing piece when it comes to addressing the mental health of new mothers and providing them with the necessary postpartum resources.
Lawton adds that part of the reason she wrote the post was because of her experience with postpartum depression. And while PPD is all too common, she feels strongly that it’s still an issue that isn’t spoken about enough.
“I had two complicated pregnancies,” she shares. “The last one resulted in a two-week hospital stay, and then I had my tumor diagnosis, a baby border line failure to thrive, and I fell apart,” she tells Babble.
Motherhood had been a lifelong dream of hers; so when she starting showing signs of PPD, she admits it was hard for her to accept what was actually happening to her.
That’s why Lawton feels so strongly about talking about it — as well as drawing attention to the fact that new moms need more mental health services and attention after they’ve had babies.
“I’m going to scream it from the rooftops, because if it happened to me, it can happen to anyone,” Lawton says. “And we can’t be left to fend for ourselves due to lack of resources. Mothers deserve more.”
They most certainly do. And because of brave mothers like Lawton, the issue is beginning to get the awareness it merits. Let’s hope the conversation continues, and most of all, that mothers begin to get the loving care and attention they both need and deserve.