Embracing Motherhood

Eight years ago I was gearing up to pop out my very first baby.  It seems almost surreal now that I think about it.  My stomach enlarging to what a normal pregnant woman looks like and then growing some more.  Looking in the mirror and almost being able to witness the birth of new stretch marks as they happened.

It seems so impossible that a real life baby grew inside me, that if it weren’t for those stretch marks, I may just forget that it even happened at all.

Well, that and like, I have an almost eight year old to remind me every day.

But still.  The whole process of making and having a baby is quite extraordinary.  That an actual person is growing inside your belly – it’s really quite insane!

I often sit back and think about how much I wanted my baby girl.  How desperately I craved the name Mother.  Spoiler alert – it was a lot.  Like a lot, a lot.  Like cry every time I held a baby a lot.  In my mind, being a Mother was really all I ever truly wanted to do and something that I assumed, (because I wanted it so badly), would come naturally to me.

And then I had a baby.

Jeepers.  Nothing like a real life baby to shock you into reality.  Where in my head we cuddled all day, had snuggly feeding sessions and she slept on my chest whenever I wanted her to, the actual reality of motherhood was totally different.  A screaming baby that no matter how hard I tried to nurse her, would not feed properly and would hardly ever cuddle with me.  She just wasn’t that way inclined.  Still isn’t actually.

The hard truth of motherhood is that it really is difficult.  You’re always going to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing no matter how many books you read (sometimes even because of the books you read).

But I thought I’d really get into it as the months went on.  It had to get easier right?  And maybe it would have under normal circumstances…  but…

Well, apparently, even though we’d just made and delivered a baby, we forgot how that whole process works.  Which meant that just 3 months after Kyla was born, we conceived our second baby.  Three months later.  You think you’re shocked?  Imagine my reaction when I was clinging to the toilet thinking I had a tummy bug when I suddenly realised that this brand of nausea was all to familiar.  Like WAY too familiar.

And while we were shocked, we were also overjoyed.  Another sweet blessing to add to our family – it felt right.  Of course it was going to be difficult but it was also going to be awesome because they would grow up to be almost like twins.

But wow.  I was sick.  Not like in the first pregnancy where the toilet was my friend for the first 3 months kind of sick.  I mean sick like vomiting at least once a day, err’day kind of sick.  Like running out of client meetings to go and destroy their toilet kind of sick.  It got so bad that when I did leave the house I packed extra clothes in the car, just in case.  No amount of ginger could save me.  My body was like, “Nope.  I just did this lady, how can you expect me to do it again so soon?!  What’s wrong with you?!  It’s time to teach you a lesson!”  So it did.

The problem with being so incredibly ill was that I had a brand new baby that needed me and I couldn’t be there for her like I wanted to be.  At night when she was crying, I often had to choose between feeding her or imparting the contents of my tummy to the porcelain throne.  And during the day, when I wasn’t fighting to keep my food inside my body I actually had to try and do some work because we had little mouths to feed now.  I think you get the point though right?  It was just really, really rough.

I’ve often spoken about the fact that I felt incredibly alone during that first year of Kyla’s life and it’s the truth.  Inside my head I felt like I didn’t have anyone to turn to that would understand what I was going through on an emotional level.  But guys, when I say that, I totally and completely disregard everything that my incredible support system did for us during that year (and ever since).  I need you to know that without my in laws and my mother, I would NOT be coping.  They are really what keeps our little family together and I would be absolutely lost without them.

Now, as we head into Mother’s Day these thoughts and feelings have consumed my thinking.  I felt alone and yet I had a team of people who had my back at every turn.  It seems silly to even say it out loud, but it’s the truth.  That first night in hospital, once Seth had left and it was just me and my baby, I cried.  I bawled my eyes out actually.  I just really wanted someone there that I could talk to without having to have this pretence of appearing to have it altogether.

Imagine what single Mothers feel like?  Or moms that give birth without the support of their family or partner?  Or even moms that have all that, but like me, felt like no one really understood what they were feeling?

Well the thing is, there are mother’s like that all over South Africa every single day.  But this year, on Mother’s Day, we want to do something about it.

My friend Julie started the #MothersDayConnect initiative and I think it’s an awesome thing to get involved in this Mother’s Day.  Having been there recently ourselves, we are the perfect people to support other Moms.  It just makes sense that we step out of our comfort zones to encourage a new Mom that might just be struggling with her new reality.  All it takes is one hour on Mother’s Day.

Here’s all you need to know:

Women around South Africa will be giving birth over Mother’s Day weekend.
For many, due to tough realities, they will start their journey of motherhood feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of bringing a child into this world. They might feel lonely. They might feel scared. They might have desperately wanted this child. They might have not. Some are starting as single mothers. Some are young. Some are fierce and brave. Some may have had a baby shower. Others might have nothing to dress their baby in to take them home.

What if we chose to share our Mother’s Day?
If we took the gratitude that bubbles in us when we think of our own motherhood journey and used it to stretch the sisterhood circle just that little bit bigger? We could make it tangible. Together, we could ensure that every woman who gives birth on Mother’s Day is told that she is wonderful and strong, and that her baby is a gift to our world. This isn’t about grand gestures or education. There are no super-heroes. This is about acknowledgement. “I see you. I see your baby. Thanks for your sacrifice, Mama, and Happy Mother’s Day.”

We are asking moms specifically in Cape Town, Joburg and Durban to give 1 hour of their day on Mother’s Day to simply sit with a new mom 1 woman to another and make her feel less alone and let her know that she is not alone in this overwhelming moment.

Imagine women gathering at every public birthing facility with the sole purpose of reclaiming Mother’s Day as a day for ALL mothers, starting with our country’s newest moms. Imagine a day of respectful celebration and gentle affirmation and the heavenly scent of a brand new baby.



8 thoughts on “Embracing Motherhood

  1. Wow! All the tears. All the feels.
    What a beautiful yet bittersweet post Cindy – so raw and honest yet so emotional too. We as Mothers know these feelings all too well. We might be away on Mothers Day weekend but hoping I can get involved.
    So amazing x

  2. That’s an amazing idea! After experiencing post natal depression, I know what it’s like to feel all alone with a new baby even if u have support never mind if u don’t!
    Cindy, are Retreat MOU and Tygerberg the only places to go to in the Western Cape??

  3. Thank you so much for this post! I’m about to become a mom in less than a month. Eeeek… Some days I am so excited to hold my baby and just breathe her in but other days I burst into tears when anyone mentions the fact that I have to be an actual mother! My own mom doesn’t really get it as she hasn’t been a new mom for a very long time and I feel like I have to keep it together for my husbands sake. I think this is an amazing initiative and I know I would definitely appreciate support from a seasoned mom!

    • Megan that is such exciting news! Congrats on your imminent motherhood! I would love to support you on this new journey – please feel free to mail me if you want to ask any questions or even just to vent to someone who understands and won’t judge!

  4. Wow this is such a real post! So real and I completely relate to the loneliness one feels even though your loved ones are around and supportive….. it’s hard. I am mother to an (almost) 8 month old and there are still times I just break out in tears. Does it stop?? Having returned back to work 2 months ago, I still struggle with juggling it all…. being wife, mother, homemaker, employee, woman…. so if there is anyone who wants to reach out and if I can support anyone in any way (or anyone wants to support me lol) please feel free to email me. I’m based in Jhb.

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