As a therapist, a client brought up feelings of regretting having her baby, and I’ve been pondering on it since. While unpacking my own motherhood journey, I’ve discovered some thoughts to share.
A client declared in a session that she wonders if it was a mistake to have children. Her 4-month-old was having a tough time, and in turn, so was she. And dad too.
As she described her night from hell, I truly felt I was living it with her. Although I am a year ahead of her journey, I could feel that feeling of complete deflation and desperation with her. And as she cried, I felt that complete heartbreak with her too.
At that moment, I wondered if because I could so deeply relate to “that one thought-provoking night,” I wondered how many other moms could as well. Do we all have that experience?SHARMON REDDINGTON
The moment I thought I regretted having my baby
I remember my standout moment so clearly with both of my children. My daughter, when she was four weeks old and had been hospitalized for a viral infection. I was a first-time mom and obviously terrified about the health of my baby. She had a drip in her tiny little hand, and we were on night three in hospital.
She was inconsolable for hours that night screaming. I felt so incredibly powerless. I remember thinking, “I am not equipped to be a mother.”
I had the same feeling 2.5 years later as my son had terrible reflux and colic. After four hours of non-stop screaming, I wanted to run away; I could not take it anymore, that same thought of “I can’t be a mom crept in.”
Thankfully, by morning, things felt easier on both occasions, and that thought did not linger any longer.
Sometimes those memories remind me that I do not want to do it again, and two children are my emotional limit. On occasion, they are reminders of how vulnerable and special motherhood is, how deep and unconditional that love is between mom and baby.
I sometimes even think to myself, why on earth do we tell mothers they will miss those moments one day, and then admittedly, sometimes I do.
After mentioning these thoughts to other moms in my support network, I have heard similar stories. Many shared their own versions of “that one night,” the one that felt like it would not end and raised questions of the readiness to mother.
I think these moments when we share them unite us as mothers. To remind us that this is hard, but we are supported and that it is okay to feel defeated and overwhelmed. And if you can relate to this, you are not alone.
A US study revealed that out of their survey on new moms, 40% of them felt anxious, overwhelmed, or depressed. If you’re feeling this way, please check out our free Mental Health Checklist or reach out to your care provider for immediate support.
Some supportive advice for new moms
I received some advice from our wonderful pediatrician during my first child’s newborn period, and it has stuck with me ever since.
She told me to change my goal. My goal was not to stop the baby crying (although I thought it was). My goal was to offer my baby unconditional love and fulfill their needs to the best of my ability.
Despite feeling like it’s a giant mom-fail when you have an inconsolable baby (or toddler for that matter), sometimes we cannot stop them crying immediately, and that is okay. The adjustment to life outside the womb is a big one for them and us.
I asked a couple of patients if they had any postpartum goals they wanted to re-frame to be more supportive, and here’s what they said.
“My goal was to stay on top of housework and cooking, and I changed it to do the cooking and cleaning when I have the emotional and physical energy to do so.”
“My goal with my firstborn was to prove that I could cope, that I could do it on my own and that I wasn’t struggling. I thought that is what strength would look like; my goal second time round is to ask for help, to delegate, and to have a break when I need it!”
Remember, there’s no award or gold star for the mom who struggles the most through motherhood.
That was my experience of “the one night,” and we would love to hear yours too.
Changing my goal really helped in those moments and still to this day. What helped me – and I know will help many others too – was to share my experiences, thoughts, feelings out loud.
When we share our experiences, we empower ourselves to tell them more, and we also encourage those listening to share their stories.
Sharmon is a Registered Counsellor and mother of two. She runs a private practice, Mum Well, where she provides therapy to pregnant and postpartum moms. In addition to postpartum needs, she also provides mental health support in attachment, addiction, bereavement, trauma, parenting guidance, and relationship and marital difficulties.