friendship

"I was mummy bullied and shamed after I gave birth."

How one mum pulled through with no support form her so-called ‘friends.’

Last month I celebrated my daughter’s 1st birthday. The gifts came so thick and fast I had to do a Kmart run for plastic tubs to house her new collections. Congratulations you made it, the baby made it, or other variations of these words were sprawled across her birthday cards.

Amongst all this glitter and banner hanging, I was quietly reflecting. The support I was receiving on that day was so apparent I couldn’t help but wonder where it had been for the other 11 months and 29 days.

Even though I had an extensive community of friends, family, nurses etc. I still felt vulnerable and raw. What was meant to be my so-called network of support was actually just a circle of passive aggressive comments, dismissiveness and an air of some sort of secrecy as if everyone was playing their cards close to their chest. It floored me.

I felt so alone.

I confided to my sister one day that I thought I might be pregnant. “What makes you say that?” She asked.  I rattled off a list of things I had read on the Internet that I thought I should most definitely be on the look out for. She was asking because she had been pregnant “last month”. Her partner had talked her into an abortion. She was heartbroken and has never been the same.

I did turn out to be pregnant. For 9 months I was unable to revel in the joy of my pregnancy with my loved ones for fear of upsetting my sister. My family followed suit and the whole saga became taboo. This became worse when a best friend at work suffered a miscarriage. After that, work became a logistical nightmare with that friend bursting into tears every time she saw me. It was fair yet unfair at the same time.

Fast-forward and here I am in labour. I had always wanted a natural birth. I had read my hypnobirthing books and I was almost excited about the 'impending doom' to be honest. Everything went well for me and I got my natural birth. I felt proud. I had a few friends give birth around the same time (all with some form of intervention) and they screwed up their noses at me when I began to mention my birth story after I had supported them whilst they told theirs.

Obviously I was gloating, obviously I felt superior right? Wrong. All I wanted was to be able to talk about my labour in the same way I was listening to others talk about theirs. I was not judging, I was just so super impressed that we had all gone through this incredible experience in a similar time frame, I thought that it would randomly bond us for life.  How wrong I was. They started sharing articles on social media and I slowly retreated into my unwashed bed sheets feeling alone. I had inadvertently become a target for mummy bullies who were sharing articles about being mummy bullied.

ADVERTISEMENT
"I was a target for mummy bullies."

My daughter hardly slept a wink for those first 8 weeks. She screamed instead. In my deprivation and confusion I sent out a mass sms blast to all my mummy friends asking them for tips or tricks. Surely they would understand? “HAHAHA Oh I remember those newborn days!” “Sorry babes can’t help you out” and my personal favourite “Welcome to motherhood, now you know how I felt”.

Sorry What? It seemed to me like they were actually, almost, having a little laugh at my expense. It was all wink wink nudge nudge, but help and support? Nope. My daughter ended up in hospital at 9 weeks with a dairy allergy. Not so normal newborn behaviour after all.

I continued to try to open up to people. I was anxious, I was crying a lot and I was just down right confused and foggy. “Normal” everyone would tell me, all part of being a new mum. Similar to my debilitating morning sickness, no one was actually listening to me, I was more a sounding board for others peoples’ much worse experiences. I pushed on. I dropped to 49kilos and my hair fell out. I complained of my limbs giving out whilst on my 4th hour of rocking the baby to sleep. In the end, I was diagnosed with postpartum thyroiditis (with symptoms that are very similar to that of postnatal depression). Not so normal new mum behaviour after all.

I don’t know what I thought would happen when I become pregnant in terms of community support. But it wasn’t this. I didn’t expect to not be able to share my happiness, my accomplishments and my hard work with others for fear of upsetting them. I also didn’t expect to be laughed at when I voiced my concerns to others.

P.S. I wanted to say that I’ve noticed many articles and photos doing the rounds of what “real women” look like after they’ve given birth. My body still looks exactly the same as it did before I had my baby. And I will not be made to feel like any less of a “real women” because of it. I’m as real as they come. (And wont be made to feel guilty about that).

How did you find the support from your family and friends in your child's first year?

Want more? Try:

"My daughter's bully was too close to home."

"Can we just stop judging other parents?"

Follow iVillage on Facebook

When you become a parent, you don't leave your brain in the delivery suite. That's why mothers with kids of all ages come to themotherish.com; because they're still interested in news about entertainment, health, current affairs and food along with an inspiring and useful stream of parenting advice and support.

Most importantly, they come because they want to hear personal stories of parenting directly from other mothers, without fear of judgement.

[iv-signup-form]

00:00 / ???