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November 12, 2017

Hitting ‘The Fourth Month’ Postpartum Wall

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There comes a time which isn’t described via a glossy picture in a Gina Ford baby book, or on the front page of a parenting magazine. You are not pre-warned about it in ante- natal classes, but it exists. It happens. It is where you hit the four-month postpartum wall.

It’s where you are out of the fresh new born stage, but you are nowhere near the semi self-sufficient toddler stage. It’s where the novelty has worn off and you are in some sort of haphazard routine. Instead of being congratulated now, you are bombarded with expectations.

Expectations that you should have lost your baby weight and be back to ‘your normal self’. Four months in and those ‘glowing’ hormones have well and truly left the building and what no one tells you is that will cause hair loss, acne reminiscent of your teenage years, peeing when you sneeze, and your body is so hairy you resemble Robin Williams in Jumanji.

The question of everyone’s lips is if baby is sleeping through the night. Oh no, well that’s a shame, they will soon get it have you tried this? YES OF COURSE I HAVE. Cue the guilt you’ve done something wrong, or that your baby is broken. One throw away comment from another mum at baby class and it sticks with you for days.

It is expected now you’ve been doing it for four months you should be juggling motherhood with a gleeful twinkle in your eye.

Not feeling like complete failure that you have not even done the washing up.

You’ve got to this point by the skin of your teeth.

The smack in the face tiredness of the new born days is still lingering and you’ve barely got time to go to the toilet. Having a bath is an actual luxury and a packet of crisps is considered a sufficient meal. You could not feel any further than the picture of motherhood that you have been fed by the media.You weigh up staying at home staring at the four walls again and watching mind bending kid’s tv against daring to go out and play Russian Roulette with a baby kick off.

What you don’t want to admit is that you’ve hit a wall.

You want to be able to eat in peace, you wonder if going back to work early may be an option? You want to go out to a friend’s and just moan about what terrors your kids are and feel relieved when she says hers are too. You want to make plans you know you won’t keep because someone will be ill, someone must work late or that you are just too tired but the thought it all you need to escape. You want to watch anything that doesn’t contain overly enthusiastic kids’ presenters.

It’s not openly accepted to say, I am not enjoying this.

It’s hard to admit that, I want more. It seems insensitive somehow, ungrateful but although I am a mother and I love my children fiercely and do not regret them for a second, they are not my whole life. I am a person too. Being a mother, you must be so selfless, they are fed before you, you do everything for them, put their needs before your own. But there comes a time you are screaming inside and desperate to show yourself again. To regain your identity.

The four-month postpartum wall leaves you in limbo. You are unsure of yourself, you cannot quite remember who you used to be pre-kids, but you haven’t fully embraced how motherhood has changed you either.

All I know is that occasionally I have to be selfish, I have to do something for me, I have to leave the children or just sit and write and it makes me a better mother. I may seem as though I don’t enjoy being a mother, and it may leave me open for judgement. I am just an open, honest and real mother explaining how she feels and if you do too, you are not alone. Someone, somewhere feels it too it is just we aren’t supposed to talk about it and this is where the unreal expectations come from that as modern parents we need to break down.

Vicki Cockerill
Vicki Cockerill
Vicki Cockerill aka NICU Mum is the author of The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum blog and writes for a number of parenting websites. She talks all things NICU, CHD, and all things parent with honesty, humour and finding any excuse for a gin!