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Transition into motherhood

(39 Posts)
Helen63 Sat 06-Feb-21 00:50:05

I would really love to hear your thoughts and recollections of when you became a mother. What changed for you? What were the most challenging bits as a women? How clearly do you remember those times?
Thank you

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Feb-21 05:42:58

I had a poor birth experience (considered "normal" then) in that I was expected to "conform" without giving me any reasons. I was on a treadmill and was no longer an individual. Sadly I learned that the NHS is just a system and you are a number and that within any organisation few people are allowed to think. It is true of schools, universities, businesses, charities and almost everywhere you look.

I learned that if you don't like the prevailing norm you have to fight, be prepared to research arguments and be prepared to be awkward, expend energy, be different. I learned to put everything in writing, to not give up. To accept you are likely to be standing alone.

The pregnant-woman "routine" and the way I was treated made me the person I am. It made my husband and I a team of two against the world. It made me strong and persistent. It made me a fighter and campaigner for myself and others. It made me love facts and not allow common practice to get in the way of best practice. The experience is responsible for many of my weepiest, most angry and frustrating times, and my most remarkable, joyful ones.

When they refused to let me do reasonable things (and even lied to me) I learned I can walk away. I am stronger than I think.

The NHS made me the persistent person that I am. It changed me forever.
I say this with some regret.
Motherhood was the easy bit.

CanadianGran Sat 06-Feb-21 06:25:26

I remember being frightened and excited about the changes, even though DH and I had been married for 5 years and our baby was planned.

Growing up, there were not very many babies around our neighbourhood, and we had no relatives in Canada, so I didn't really have much experience with babies. My mother was on the other side of the country, and while close, my relationship with my MIL was rather formal. DH and I figured things out, with support of friends and his family, and it all went well. I guess I was a bit suprised by the depth of the feelings, and the maternal instinct that would guide me. Of course we foundered a bit, and were sooo tired, but it was a happy time when I look back.

janeainsworth Sat 06-Feb-21 06:44:49

My DC were all born in Hongkong, far away from our families and any support we might have had from them.
Instead, I had close friendships and support from a small group of women who I’m still in contact with today, and with their children who were born around the same time as mine.
The NCT had been going for a few years and that was a valuable support too.
I had a Chinese amah who looked after DS when I went back to work part-time and I learned a lot about childcare from her.

notspaghetti I’m so sorry you had such dreadful experiences of the NHS.

grandmajet Sat 06-Feb-21 07:00:29

I absolutely loved being a mum from the day she was born. Yes, we had little money, as I gave up my job as a teacher - childcare in the 70s did not exist in the organised way it does now, but there were far fewer things to spend money on in those days, and second hand stuff was the norm. Life did get harder over the next few years as I had three more children in the following six years, but I still loved being with my children. I had no car so we walked everywhere, and being in north London public transport was good. I had a big old pram with one child in, one on a pram seat and one either side! The pram seats were great for chatting to a toddler as they were up high and facing you. I did no paid work until my youngest was about 7, and then only jobs that fitted in with school hours, but I really didn’t mind. I think I always lacked ambition and can understand that others may strongly dislike being largely an at home Mum. My husband did little to help in the house on weekdays as he worked very long hours in the city, but at weekends he was involved with taking them to swimming lessons, football training etc, and family trips to the local park etc.
I think different lifestyles suit different families and today there are many more options for women, although I’m not sure that always makes life easier as a whole.
My children are all wonderful adults - I may be a little biased - and I don’t regret the lifestyle we had.

Ro60 Sat 06-Feb-21 07:11:06

I learned my life changed completely & my OH stayed exactly the same. For me; different friends - met at mother & baby groups - some older than me, responsibilities.
His; nights out with his sports, same mates, same work collegues, same routine. For us this was the beginning of the end. Basically I grew up. Best of times worst of times.

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Feb-21 07:12:43

jainainsworth, thank you. I am aware that so many have much worse birth experiences but it definitely left its mark on me.
I entered pregnancy full of excitement and the belief that the NHS was a service and had each individual's best interests at heart.
How naive I was.

Yes, it was not the birth I wanted - but I am the (bolshy, determined, challenging, feisty) person I am because of it. They created me, this irritant to the system and though I wish I could just "put up and shut up" I can't.

Gingster Sat 06-Feb-21 07:52:10

I loved being a mum from the word go. My firstborn arrived 6 weeks early and was a tiny scrap of humanity. He came home a month later just in time for Christmas. Can’t praise the hospital enough! I got all the support I needed .
I had a lovely group of friends and joined the pram club and young wives. We are all still friends to this day.

mokryna Sat 06-Feb-21 08:31:42

Although a planned pregnancy, after five years of marriage, we really didn’t think it through. I had to give up a job I loved, with a huge mortgage and the rate shooting up soon after it was gained, life was difficult. Lovely house but with practically nothing else, no fridge even. Baby was late and as Easter was very near, I was induced. Giving birth, I was alone in a room with just gas to help. I was a ‘slip’ of a girl and was told baby would be a normal size, a bit of an understatement at that time, 9lb15. Baby blues lasted a very long time, mainly through having no support as it wasn’t recognized. Men could go out for a drink and continue to go out to play sports etc. while women stayed at home and looked after children. Lost my independence.

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Feb-21 08:36:18

So sorry Mokryna.
For some women, our birth stories (and transition to motherhood) live with us.

I didn't have your "baby blues" but do understand the profound changes a new baby brings.

Helen63 Sat 06-Feb-21 08:56:18

That’s sad to hear. Did you get offered a home birth at all?

Helen63 Sat 06-Feb-21 09:00:44

Sorry not good at this, my home birth question was for notspaghetti

Helen63 Sat 06-Feb-21 09:05:41

I guess my next question is were you relationships with community midwives better than hospital midwives? For those of you not in the UK, did you rely on other women/nurses to help you through? I get the sense that women of our generation felt the distinction between the change in women’s lives as they became parents and the little change that partners experienced.

downtoearth Sat 06-Feb-21 09:08:44

Mismanagement of labour meant my daughter was born starved of oxygen and brain damaged. My poor little girl was taken straight to SCBU.
She was fed through a tube, abd started to have fits, doctors where pyzzled as to the problem, her umbilcal cord was taken off, at 2 days old, and a lumbar puncture was performed.
We where taken in ambulance with a midwife accompanying us as I was 4 days post birth to the Brompton hospital where she was placed in an isolation room on her own, I had to stay with her, no privisions made for me as a mum, meals etc,I lived on biscuits as I had no money, my husband and family where 70 miles away. Tests discovered I at some point had contracted rubella during pregnancy.

After 3 weeks we where sent back to our own hospital SCBU, where I started to wonder if she was brain damaged, mums intuition?, this was confirmed a week later, my poor little girl lived another 2 weeks never coming home or meeting family she died 3rd November 1978 aged 7 weeks.

My pregnancy had been quite fraught with my parents becoming ill, and bleeding for me, C was born at 39weeks a healthy 7lb10oz, post mortem showed her brain starved of oxygen at birth.

My dad died 6 weeks later, we believe this hastened his condition.

Many years later during the scandal concerning tissue samples taken and retained without permission, we found that C's had been retained, aafter discussion we decided to let them remain as they where used for teaching.

V3ra Sat 06-Feb-21 09:32:38

downtoearth that's just heartbreaking to read. What a nightmare for you all. So sorry for your experience.

M0nica Sat 06-Feb-21 09:36:00

downtoearth what a tragedy, one that will never leave youflowers

I stopped work when my first child was born. Otherwise I just got on with life. I had no sudden internal revelations.

I found being at home with young chidren rather boring, much as I loved them, and gave them my time and attention. I used to describe being home with the children, mentally, like living with the blinds half down.

From Day 1, I planned my return to work. I sorted out my professional qualifications, I planned my household routines around juggling home and work. DH had a job that took him away from home a lot, often at short notice for indefinite periods of time. He was entirely supportive of my going back to work - his mother had been the main wage earner his family - and was happy to share childcare - when he was there, but his presence was beyond his control.

There was a local research centre, which offered part ime work, term time only, school hours and when DD went to nursery I returned to work with relief.

I do not remember any kind of special support from midwives, community or hospital, they were just part of the medical team.

I must confess, I have never quite 'got' this 'being a woman' thing. I am who I am and have lived life as it came and absorbed each set of experiences as they came. I had quite an eventful childhood, and marriage and parenthood is the normal progress of most people's lives - or was in the 1970s, so nothing about becoming a parent and bringing up children was really unexpected.

Grandma70s Sat 06-Feb-21 09:41:28

My first pregnancy was rather fraught, with a threatened miscarriage. I stayed in bed, which I quite enjoyed, until three months had passed, but I was terrified something would be wrong with the baby. No scans to reassure me in 1971.

However once the baby was born and healthy I loved every minute of being a stay-at-home mother. I have no idea why people find it boring. I was lucky in that I lived in a road where there other babies. We were mostly university graduates so had plenty in common. My parents lived only 14 miles away so we saw them once a week, and that helped, I suppose. It was a happy time.

I hadn’t minded my job, but felt liberated when I gave it up to become a mother. Life was so much freer (is that a word?) and more rewarding.

Sara1954 Sat 06-Feb-21 10:00:40

Such a tragic tale, so sorry for you, and everyone else with a sad story.
My first child was born when I was eighteen, and completely unprepared in every way.
The nurse at the surgery lent me a book when it became clear how little I knew.
Then to make things a hundred times worse, my boyfriend died three weeks before the birth, and I was literally alone. I gave birth alone, terrified and in the worst pain imaginable.
I was told by the hospital staff that I’d be referred to as Mrs E not to upset the other mothers!
Eighteen year olds are very resilient and adaptable, and my life has been good after a bad start, but I certainly don’t look back on my first birth experience with anything other than horror!

NellG Sat 06-Feb-21 10:03:00

Downtoearth I'm so very sorry. I lost one too and that was all tangled up in the Bristol heart scandal - we made the same decision, such a tiny life, but even without our permission one that may have helped others. There was no amount of 'compensation' that would have helped and I'm guessing that you may have felt the same.

Helen63 With my first I was young and single. It was the 80's and my mother's attitude was "you made your bed, now you lie in it". My family were very ashamed of me and distanced themselves. I was 7 months pregnant when I found out that the father was already married, with other children. He went back to his wife.

I had no money and had to go onto benefits, it took six weeks before I got any money at all. In the meantime I was living in one room, in a B&B. I wasn't allowed to stay in the room after breakfast and had to walk the streets until evening. A friends mum took pity on me and used to let me go there and she would feed me from time to time.

When I had him I was suffering from scurvy, I had open sores all over and was so malnourished I had to stay in hospital for three weeks.

I loved him to bits, but it was hard. In the B&B we weren't allowed to do washing or cooking in the rooms. But I was a young girl in a building full of drunk old men and people with quite serious mental health issues and they didn't respond well to crying babies. I was so frightened that I broke the rules and used to hand wash nappies in a vanity basin and drip dry then into an old baby bath inside the wardrobe so the landlady didn't find out!

But eventually she did and she asked me to leave. One of my sisters put me up for a short time, but wasn't keen and had issues of her own. Eventually a charity gave me a small basement flat, which used to flood every time it rained. I stayed there for two years, then met and married a kind man. I can still remember having to scrub the mould from the wall in that place and having to pick slugs up off the carpet before my son ate them!

Things got better of course, I made sure they did, but my transition into motherhood was difficult and I still feel guilt that he didn't have a better start in life. I wanted better for him but at that age didn't have the means or the knowhow. I got so many things wrong.

Of course there is much more to the story but as it already sounds like a misery memoir I'll leave it there.

To all the other ladies who have posted, for something supposedly so natural it's not always the easiest thing we do - best wishes to all of you.

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Feb-21 10:15:22

Nothing so sad as the pain of lives lost unnecessarily.
Thank you for sharing this with us.

Sara1954 Sat 06-Feb-21 10:17:35

I sympathise with a lot of what you are saying, I had little family support, they too were bitterly ashamed of me, staying mainly with a friend with plenty of room in her house for two more, but the first year was a bit of a gypsy life, staying with whoever would have me.
Thank Goodness things are different now.

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Feb-21 10:23:41

Helen63 Home birth was the nub of it.
I wanted my first baby at home. This was my right but was fought every step of the way. Only my two older midwives were supportive. One was told not to attend me once past due date and to call for an ambulance instead - was only offered services on condition of birthing in hospital. We were bullied. No contra-indications. Long, long story.

Next baby independent midwife. At home.

NellG Sat 06-Feb-21 10:49:52

Sarah1954 I just read your post and the old heartstrings twanged! I do hope things have got better for girls who find themselves in our situation.

Chardy Sat 06-Feb-21 11:01:31

Excellent NCT preparation. A wonderful community midwife who gave me internal GBH as I really didn't want to be induced when 2 weeks after due date. Her good friend was the midwife at the local unit, and she stayed with me until he was born. One of my pupil's mums was the night nurse, and I think she thought I was being difficult when the sheets needed changing at 2am!
We stayed in the unit a week in those days! With my other child we were out in 18 hrs.

NotSpaghetti Sat 06-Feb-21 11:01:36

Sarah1954 another story of something that could have been so much better.