Hannah Alfred's TTAM

Is there really a 'truth' behind motherhood? I believe every woman has her own 'truth,' and that motherhood begins from the moment a woman finds out she's pregnant. All kinds of thoughts begin to go through your head but ultimately, growing up mentally is the first thing that a lot of women have to do, after all, it is a massive responsibility and we have to make many sacrifices.

When I found out I was having a baby, I just remember my mind going into over drive, I began thinking 'how am I going to do this?' 'Where am I going to live?' 'How will I afford it?' Especially as I knew I was going to be a single mum from the beginning because my partner and I had split up and there was no way we were getting back together. With all the thoughts going on in my head however, I had a kind of peace knowing that I would be doing this on my own from the beginning, which made it easier to plan and prepare for the future.

Maybe I'm speaking for myself but it felt unreal until I saw the first scan, oh and then the first kick! What an amazing feeling! All the negative thoughts and emotions I might have had towards being pregnant suddenly went away, there was actually another life inside me that I was responsible for helping to grow into becoming a perfect little human.

Now, many other articles I've read on motherhood discuss how people always want to give their unsolicited advice on all the 'right' things to do while pregnant and beyond... how very true! But they were from a good place (I think!) In my experience, I didn't allow them to bother me because to me, you take what you want from everything you hear, and trust me, you hear a lot and as a first time mum I did take a lot from all the advice I received but all the while thinking of MYself and MY baby and what would benefit US.

Plus at this point there were other situations at hand in my life that were taking over my emotions, I was angry and anxious a lot of the time, and that wasn't something I was used to feeling (usually, I'm an annoyingly seriously calm person) but I kept on being pushed to pray and then one of the amazing things about being a mother just kept on coming to me... all the love I received from others. Friends, family, colleagues, they all exhibited a different kind of love I had never witnessed before, and all those that had kids already were so willing to tell me their own birth stories, which were all different from one another. And a majority of them didn't go as planned, this helped me a lot because I reduced my expectations of having a perfect birth experience and just enjoyed being pregnant and preparing for my baby to come, praying along the way for strength, patience and good health (for both me and baby.)

A lot of the time when I read and heard about motherhood, I read about how crazy and painful labour was and how it was all worth it in the end. No one spoke about the healing process postpartum. I heard about postnatal depression (PND) a lot in articles I read, which scared me a little but never did I hear of how painful the healing process was and how hard it would actually be to take care of a new born after going through hours of labour, that all came a couple of days after I'd actually had the baby, which left too much of an element of surprise. My healing took approximately 3 weeks, from having stitches due an episiotomy (a small cut of the perineum) to just gathering strength again after 9 hours of labour. I don't know how long others have taken to heal but during those three weeks, I had a fever, I felt weak all the time and my stitches hurt like hell, simply sitting down was not a joke! It made it quite hard to be able to really get into looking after baby, thankfully I had family around to help me, something I am eternally grateful for. I do wish there was more emphasis put on the healing process after childbirth. Future mum's, do your research if you must but remember, every body's different.

And throughout all of this, I had just started breastfeeding (I plan to breastfeed for 6 months exclusively.) breastfeeding was one thing I had done so much research on and was so terrified, yet excited to do. I heard so many things about how painful it was and that just put me off! But here I was determined to save myself some money, and create a special bond with my baby through breastfeeding, I know people have their different views on breastfeeding but it was very important to me. When the time came to breastfeed, it wasn't as bad as I had read, luckily I produced a lot of milk and my baby latched on pretty easily. So again, everything I heard was not what it seemed.

Now with all that said, those are not the most important things about motherhood. Ultimately, it's you and your child that are the most important, and when that baby comes, a new woman comes along with them and everything you've read or heard becomes knowledge at the back of your mind. And you begin to learn about yourself and this new little person in your life. Everything my child did, became the most important thing to me, watching him grow is the most fascinating thing in the world to me, he learned what mummy's face looks like, her smell, her touch. He started smiling and making the cutest little ‘coos’ and ‘ahhs.’ I even realised along the way what a blessing and how blessed he is, you know when people say children are a blessing? They truly are, and all in all they make a woman a MOTHER. I never knew I could love someone so much in all my life until I met my son, he is only 2 months and already, the whole experience so far has really been a thrilling journey which I'm still learning from, with so many more days, weeks, months and years of tears, sleepless nights, smiles and laughs ahead.

All in all, the only real 'truth' about motherhood?

At the end of it all, YOU are this child's mother, regardless of what advice you take and use, this child is growing up to know and love you and you're all that matters to him/her. Regardless of the hardships we might face, there's no love like a love between mother and child, that's the most important 'truth' behind motherhood.

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© 2020 The Motherhood Group, Coordinators of Black Maternal Mental Health Week UK