Health Motherhood

This Isn’t What I Thought Motherhood Would Be Like

Written by Kathryn Malherbe

I did not sign up for this.

This thought went through my head as a screaming four-week-old newborn was lying in front of me.

I was completely out of my depth.

Surely this isn’t what motherhood was supposed to be like?

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Looking back at those dark days, I cringe at the thought that I didn’t “like” our baby.

I cringe at the mere thought that I had wished I never got pregnant, that I missed my “old life”, that this baby changed our perfect little lives irrevocably.

As I am writing this, I feel shame and guilt for even uttering these words, but this is the reality that I faced those first six weeks of our son’s life.

His birth was not an easy one.

I was booked for a C-section the coming Monday, but that Sunday afternoon, my water broke. I froze.

This was not part of the plan.

We rushed to the hospital and within an hour he was already crowning and keen on entering this world.

After being discharged I had a sudden rise in blood pressure and was rushed back to the hospital only to be booked back in for another week.

I remember that first night one of the ward sisters asked if she could bring me my son.

It felt so strange hearing those words. My . . . son?

After six weeks of being back home it hit me—I never spoke a single word to “my son” in those first six weeks.

I just went through the motions of breastfeeding, changing diapers, burping.

I was holding my breath every time I changed a diaper as he cried wishing I was somewhere else.

I would sleep the days away, barely holding on to each day, sleep deprived, tired, anxious.

Both my husband and I were diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety disorder. We both struggled to bond with this foreign little human being in our home.

I would lie awake at night anxious, awaiting the next cry.

After six weeks, things gradually got easier. I felt better equipped and came to the realization that I only needed to be good enough for our baby.

I wasn’t a bad mother—I was the perfect mother for him, and that was all that mattered.

When he got upset, I started talking to him, instead of holding my breath.

I reassured him that everything would be OK and he suddenly stopped crying, almost relieved to hear my voice.

That was all he wanted.

Love.

Reassurance.

I felt resentment for myself for having missed out on those first few weeks of his life. Looking back at photos I took of him, I realize I never took photos of myself; I hated myself for the person I had turned into.

He is now five months and the most loving, cheerful little boy and my heart swells with pride seeing how we made this precious little person.

I love our son, I love our new life, I love the change he brought into our lives.

Now there is no resentment, only contentment, for now I understand what my purpose in life is.

To be a mother to this sweet little boy.

About the author

Kathryn Malherbe

I’m a mammographer and sonographer residing in Pretoria, South Africa. I just finished my Master’s degree in Diagnostic Radiography on improving the diagnosis of Lobular Carcinoma of the breast, which tends to be missed during annual mammogram screening of patients. I’m 32-years-old and we have two loving “furkids” Thatcher and Lily our two Golden Retrievers.