'When I became a mother, I hated it. I'm finally ready to talk about it.'

It has taken me 14 months to have the clarity and strength to talk about it, but I’m finally ready to share how I became a mother for the first time and hated it. I want to start off by saying I do not make that statement flippantly or with disrespect to the millions of people in the world who struggle to become parents every day. 

But for me to tell this story with the honesty it needs in order to find healing and peace within myself, I want to let you in on everything my mind and heart were grappling with. 

I’m going to take you back to the beginning of this story. No, I won’t regale you with the intimate details from between the sheets, but in July 2021 I fell pregnant with my first child. My fiance and I were trudging through our second lockdown with no end in sight and certainly no possibility of getting married soon. Like plenty of others, we threw tradition out the window and decided we’d like to start our family before waiting to tie-the-knot in a ceremony that might not happen for years. 

Watch: Horoscopes As New Mums. Story continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

When those two lines popped up on the pregnancy test I was in shock. It didn’t feel real and wouldn’t for many months. I always knew I wanted to be a mother and now it was happening. I had a baby girl growing inside of me and I was impatient from the first day I found out she was there — all I wanted was to meet her.


Pregnancy for me was not cute. I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum until week 17 (my thoughts and prayers go out to all the women who suffer HG, especially those who battle through full term) which meant that day in, day out I would vomit from morning until night with sleep being my only refuge from nausea. I got by on a diet of water, Hydrolite icy poles and beige food — crackers, toast and on a good day, 2 Minute noodles. 

Once the vomiting stopped around halfway through my pregnancy, then some other symptoms kicked in like scary heart-palpitations, dizziness and extreme fatigue. As I approached full-term, I was more than ready to get this baby out and begin my journey as a mother. 

My baby was measuring big on my last few scans so the recommendation from my midwife was to be induced at 39 weeks and five days. As much as I didn’t want intervention and wanted to go into labour naturally, the impatient side of me took over and I pushed ahead with the induction. 

Given that COVID restrictions were still in place (Sydney was going through the last big wave of infections) it was a really lonely experience. They gave me Cervidil to begin labour and over the next 12 hours I felt the first waves of contractions. At around 3am in the dark halls of the hospital I was walking when my waters broke. 


The next morning the midwives told me my “cervix was favourable” meaning I was ready to be transferred down to the birthing sweet. Over the next 12 hours I had an epidural, got a bad infection and the baby’s heart rate slowed. 

They prepared me for an emergency C-section. At the 11th hour my midwife said I could try pushing just in case we could get her out. I was given an episiotomy and 45 minutes later my baby girl, August, was born. All the pain and anxiety and stress and sickness floated away as I held my sweet lady for the first time. I couldn’t stop looking at her. 

At the time the hospital was in a code red situation, any women that went into labour were being diverted to another hospital. There were three COVID positive births taking place on the ward and three emergency C-sections. They were severely understaffed. 

As a result, for the next six hours I lay there in dirty sheets from my labour, with a baby who would not let me put her down and I did not know how to breastfeed. I hadn’t slept in days and when I called the buzzer for someone to help me I was basically told I had to just suck it up because there was no one available. I felt isolated and completely depleted. This was the beginning of motherhood and it wasn’t at all the shiny, warm, blissful time I had dreamed up for myself. 

For the next six weeks August would not let me put her down. At any minute of the day or night she had to be held or would scream bloody murder. I also had extreme nipple damage from those first few feeds in the hospital and would cry every time she latched. From midnight until morning she would cluster feed and I would sit in a chair in a daze. I became a zombie, a shell of my former self. If it wasn’t for the support of our beautiful families, I would never get the chance to take a shower or go to the bathroom. 


Image: Instagram


But at a certain point everyone has to get back to their lives and when my partner went back to work, I was deeply alone. Every single day I had to hold her. I couldn’t really eat or go to the bathroom. I would cry for my partner to come home and help me. Then through the night I would try to co-sleep but she just wanted to be held. I was also having extremely anxious thoughts — everyone who holds my baby is going to drop her, I can’t go outside because she will get COVID, I can’t drive in the car what if someone hits us? I spiralled every waking hour.

It was then when I hit my first breaking point (oh yeah there were a few). One night I told my partner, “I don’t feel like I’m living, I’m just existing and I don’t want to do it anymore.” It’s hard for me to type those words without going back to that dark place. I didn’t have suicidal ideology, but I was a broken human with nothing left to give. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t be a good mother to my baby. I didn’t know why I was failing so spectacularly. But in my head I thought she would be better without me. 

At this point my family could see the signs and stepped in to help. They flew me to my parents' farm in Northern NSW to begin what they called ‘Baby Rehab’. The day I arrived coincidentally was Mother’s Day, a day that I did not believe I deserved to celebrate. Over the next four weeks there I was lucky enough to receive all the love and warmth that only your closest humans can provide. There were nourishing home-cooked meals, endless sets of hands to help, my sister who would take shifts holding Augie so I could get some sleep before the long night ahead. 


My baby started sleeping longer stretches on her own in the crib and I was slowly finding my groove as a mother. My family brought me back to life and I will forever be grateful. 

In the months that followed, I worked hard to fill in the gaps and get myself better. First, I started seeing a psychologist who helped diagnose me with postnatal depression and anxiety before teaching me some really useful strategies. Recognising that I was dealing with birth trauma and a difficult postpartum period was the first step towards healing. I owed it to myself to mourn the fact that I didn’t have a beautiful birth experience and my postpartum journey wasn’t what I had planned.

All the books that invited you to write daily journal entries about your baby and their milestones sit at the bottom of my cupboard, unopened. I won’t be able to look back on pictures fondly because to be honest most of them are of me crying, or of my cracked nipples or my baby’s weird poo (never have I studied poo more than when becoming a mother). Because I hated it. I hated it for so long because I thought becoming a mother killed a part of me. But in the month’s that have passed, with deep soul searching I have learned that it didn’t kill a part of me, I grew something new inside. 

Not only did I have a beautiful baby, but it pushed me to the limits of what I thought was survivable and I came out the other side. How f*cking incredible are women? 


Listen to The Delivery Room, In this episode, Leigh sits down with Jessie Stephens, alongside her husband Rich, to talk about their birth story... Post continues below.

I think it is so important to acknowledge all the experiences that come in life. Whether that be trying to conceive, struggling to conceive, dreaming of a future with a child in it, postnatal depression, adoption, reflux babies, navigating life with a disabled child, bravely forging ahead as a single parent or reconciling with the fact you might never become a parent. In my lowest of lows I felt so alone and I wish I had been able to connect with others going through something similar. 

Sharing these stories brings us the deepest and most gratifying connections in life. If you are experiencing postnatal depression or are having a rough time after having a baby know that you are loved, there is help available, never be too proud to call on your community for help and most importantly — probably the most cliche but appropriate saying of all, ‘this too shall pass.’

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering, contact PANDA — Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia. You can find their website here or call their helpline — 1300 726 306. 

Or reach out to The Gidget Foundation on 1300 851 758. You can find out more about their 24/7 support app, here.

Feature Image: Instagram

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