On the whole I believe experiencing PND has left me a more compassionate, kinder person but, unfortunately, one negative personality trait has been greatly increased: jealousy.
It’s been almost three years since I had my son but every time I hear a new mum talk about the incredible instant bond she has with her newborn, or how she’s never been happier or how she feels more fulfilled than ever before it feels like a tiny stab to my chest. And I want to clarify that I am so, so happy for these mums. They are my friends and I wouldn’t wish PND on my worst enemy so I’m relieved for them that they feel this way. But sadly, there is a deep down, darker part of me that feels bitter and envious, and I have to work pretty hard to turn this negativity around.
I’ve written before at length about my expectations of motherhood and how when that instant bond didn’t come it triggered anxiety that I believe led to PND. Whatever endorphins are released following birth just didn’t happen for me, perhaps because of my EMCS or perhaps not. I will never know and overall that’s okay, I continue to make peace with that every day, but hearing how those first few moments were so magical for someone else will always bring the bitter taste of envy to my mouth.
For me, the first few weeks of motherhood were overshadowed by anxiety attacks and depression. For others, they get to exist in this wonderful new mum, love-filled bubble where – yes, sleep deprivation is hard and the lifestyle change is unsettling – but when they hold their baby in their arms the love and contentment they feel overwhelms any distressing emotions, at least for that lovely moment. I didn’t have that and I can’t help feeling angry about it.
I’m not trying to pretend for one moment that motherhood will always be blissful for anyone who didn’t experience PND – everyone has their own difficulties and all children go through seemingly endless phases of sleeplessness, sickness, tantrums and countless other challenges that make any parent want to cry in the bathroom or rip their hair out. I just wish I had the memory of that beautiful new mum bubble to keep in my heart.
Despite this, I would never want anyone reading this to feel they are unable to talk about their positive new mum experience with me. It’s absolutely magical and despite my feelings I’m still fascinated by the beauty of it. Maybe I’m exaggerating this blissful new mum time anyway. Maybe because I didn’t experience it I’ve put the entire period on an unrealistic pedestal. I’ll never know.
I am so happy with my lot in life. There is so much pain and loss in the world, much greater pain than I have ever experienced, and I’m so incredibly grateful for my healthy, awesome son and my successful recovery and the opportunity to be a happy, healthy mum. This jealousy isn’t something that upsets me regularly, or affects my general emotional wellbeing these days. It’s just an unfortunate and occasional little splinter that I can, and do, manage.
Thankfully, I know I’m not alone in my feelings. Through this wonderful blogging journey I have met so many mums who have felt able to honestly share their own less-than-desirable early experience of parenthood. And this makes me feel less cheated and more comforted.
I love being a mum now, and that’s what I will continue to focus on. I live in hope that this bitterness will eventually be so buried by love that it hurts less and less.
This post was originally written for The Huffington Post, please feel free to follow me over there by clicking here.
57 comments on “Why New Mums Will Always Break My Heart”
Sometimes I feel that new mums may be saying it because they are expected to rather than because it’s what they experienced. There’s such a mess of emotions and physical exhaustion and pain that it’s not unrealistic to expect that bonding may take time and that’s aside from the fact that newborns just react, there’s no real sense of purpose or feedback as to whether what you’re doing pleases them or not.
In my NCT class I made a point of saying that it’s okay to not feel an instant rush or bond and that it doesn’t make them less of a parent.
You’re absolutely right. And kudos to you for mentioning it at NCT. It’s so important for mums to have realistic expectations. Thanks for reading x
I totally understand what you are saying. My son was ill when he was born and was whisked away from me. I feel that pang of jealousy too as I never got to experience a ‘normal’ beginning with him and missed out on that whole bonding experience that so many mums talked/wrote about. He was too poorly. I still find it hard to look back at this time. Not everyone has this wonderful experience and think ShoeboxofM is right we need to tell new mums that that is OK.
That must have been so, so difficult 🙁 You’re absolutely right, sadly not everyone gets that picture perfect, one-born-every-minute moment, for all kinds of reasons, and it’s so important to say “if you feel sad/angry/jealous about that, it’s OKAY.” Thanks for reading and commenting x
I experienced Postnatal Anxiety, which is actually more common but less known. And I remember my mum saying soon after my daughter was born that she didn’t understand how some women don’t immediately bond with their child in a profound way. I bit my lip. It came across as so judgemental that I was unable to express my difficulties to her. I did love my baby, but in an abstract way – I was still getting to know her, after all.
Thought-provoking post x
My PND was much more anxiety based than depression so I know exactly how you felt. That sort of comment is absolutely devastating, isn’t it? 🙁 That’s why I make a big point of mentioning to all the pregnant women and new mums I know that if they don’t feel immediately bonding it’s OKAY. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own experience x
Ily. I’m so sorry you didn’t get to experience that too. I hope and pray you will with the next one. Thanks for being you. ❤️
Thank you, sugar xxx
I think that a lot of new mums perhaps embellish the “rush of love” and the new mum bubble slightly as this is what we are all told to expect, when in fact these things can take time for a lot of us. I suffered with PN anxiety (and still struggle to this day), I was lucky enough to bond very closely with my two, but I didn’t get “the immediate rush”.
It’s lovely that you have found support in the blogging community and I’m pleased that it has helped. Thanks for sharing such an honest and personal post.
I guess it’s all subjective anyway, and it’s our own expectations and internal pressures that are relevant. That’s why all of us sharing is so important ❤️ Thanks for reading x
What a wonderful post. I think envy/jealous is incredibly normal for everyone…hard to live with but very natural. I also wonder if people know what they mean by an instant rush of love…I can’t comment exactly because I didn’t experience this (and felt dreadful for that!) but I think not experiencing it is actually very common. I loved my son on some level (I can see that clearly now) but it wasn’t a love I understood or could recognise. Not magical and blissful…it felt anxious, confusing and, to steal Kate Tunstall’s phrase, definitely abstract. Really interesting post and it’s lovely that a blogging community helps you with support #bestandworst
I always describe is an “everything” kind of feeling. You expect the love and pride but you don’t expect the fear and overwhelm. It’s just a very, very intense feeling I think and tricky to adjust to for some (definitely for me!). Thanks so much for reading, for your kind words and for sharing your own experience x
…. and it is with honesty and reflections like this you and other mothers who experience PND or any other form of depression or anxiety will help each other and take the taboo out of the mental health topic. Thanks for having the courage to talk about this and sharing it with the blogger community.
Thanks so much for your lovely kind comments x
I feel like the new Mums are exaggerating. Fortunately, I did not have PND however I was very anxious and depressed after my son’s birth because I just wasn’t prepared for how overwhelming it would feel. I didn’t have that Mum bubble until now (3 months later), and it’s not really what I thought it would be. Sorry this comment sounds depressing but I’m just being real. The bond is there but it’s not this magical, rainbow feeling that I expected. Maybe we all need to adjust our expectations on how being a mother should feel? It is obviously amazing, and I love being a mother, but the feelings that came were very unexpected! Anyway, I can totally relate. : ) #bloggerclubUK
Doesn’t sound depressing at all, sounds very real and honest which is brilliant. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own experiences x
honest account -thank you. I didn’t feel that insta-bond either. took me a while! I love him to bits though and wouldn’t be without him now x
Thank you x
I admire you immensely for sharing your motherhood journey. Its so different for everyone, but for sufferers of PND, its so lovely to know there is a community of other Mums to talk and share their experiences. I had a tough birth and never felt like i’d ‘given birth’ to my son as I had a C section in the end. But through talking in groups and to midwives I finally realised that Henry was a part of me and came from me. Thanks for sharing lovely #bestandworst
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own experience. You’re right, I feel so, so lucky to have support from fellow sufferers x
Absolutely fantastic post.After a difficult labour I didn’t feel a rush of love and I was then away from my son for a few hours having surgery,I found it tough to bond with him. Looking back I wish I’d had some help to recognise my feelings. Thanks for linking up such a personal post,amazing to bring it to people’s attention. #bestandworst
Thanks so much for your kind words, it’s surprising how many people have experienced this x
I’m so sorry PND cruelly took that away from you and so many other Mothers and I only hope I don’t have to miss out myself. Well done for this post and for getting through it. #coolmumclub
Thanks for reading and commenting x
So i don’t know how to call it, probably nothing, but a had a terrible labor, everything went wrong was so many suffer for all of us, and the recovery was even wort, i was taking literally 5m to get out of the bed, i couldn’t sleep not because my baby was crying, but because every time i closed my eyes i saw flashes from my labor and all that pain and suffer, i bonded and love my babe straight away, but at the same time when i was looking at him i was blaming him for everything, the time pass so the blame, even though my labor was worst then a horror movie and thinking in having another baby 🙂 glad that you share your thoughts with us xx #BloggerClubUK
Thanks for sharing your experience. It may be that you experienced a form of birth PTSD. I have met lots of ladies who had traumatic births and experienced this. Take care and thanks for reading x
Being a new mum is so hard, I was not prepared to have the baby blues for 3 weeks or to feel so sad when my baby born, I literally cried at everything. All the hormones from having a baby, coping with the aftermath of birth, trying to breastfeed, and being completely exhausted made me feel terrible. Luckily after 3 weeks or so, and going away for a few days made all the difference, and I feel fortunate that I didn’t get depressed, and could then enjoy my baby. But I really didn’t have that newborn baby mum bubble, or can really remember the first few weeks. It’s not easy having a baby – physically and mentally. Claire x #BloggerClubUK
Thanks so much for commenting and being so honest x
Another beautifully honest post. It is such a positive move to have posts like this out there, because I’m sure more women are affected by the feelings you experienced, than will actually admit it. As someone else commented, my mum also filled me with the ‘it’s a rush of love like no other’ stories. I can remember holding my baby after a horrendous labour, and feeling numb. I felt nothing. I felt like that for a long time afterwards. I have similar feelings about breast feeding-I absolutely hated it, and I get similar feelings of jealousy, and having been robbed of an experience, when people talk about how amazing they found it. I’m glad you’re finding peace, and are happy being a mum ‘now.’ xx
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your own experience. I’m always surprised by how many other women felt similarly, but I think it is so important to share x
This is beautiful. It’s so refreshing to read such an honest and open post about something that must be difficult for you. Thank you for sharing it and I’m glad you’ve found support networks and no longer feel alone. #coolmumclub
Thanks so much ❤️
Hi Laura, I just know your honest and open approach to your feelings will be a huge help to others reading this. We all suffer from envy, as a counsellor once told me…don’t feel bad for feeling envy. It is a simple emotion of wanting what someone else has. That’s all.
Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub
Thanks for your wise, kind words. Really hope it helps others. Thanks x
Reblogged this on mumscircle and commented:
This is so honest, thank you x
I also had PND, five times over, and I am still envious to this day of mums who had that amazing experience with their newborns. Just in the same way that I am envious of those who had wonderful, stress free pregnancies when mine were all so high risk. I don’t think that we should deny those feelings, I openly tell anyone that I envy them their positive experience, but it does make me sad sometimes to think of everything we missed out on. I guess it always will. #coolmumclub
Thanks for sharing and being able to reflect on it it can help others mums. Thankfully i never experienced PND but i know people that have and the awful time. There us an expectation that youll hear your babys first cry and instantly feel in love. I remember feeling overwhelmed and fear so it was a kind of happy medium x
I think you are right – everyone has their own experience as a new mother. Sometimes it might seem like it’s all perfect but there can be other things at play. It’s good you are blogging about PND & the feelings that go with it. It’s important for new mums to know that it’s ok to feel however they feel. Thanks so much for sharing with us at #bloggerclubuk x
I love this post so much, I’ve read it again! It’s just so completely honest, nobody ever talks about the slightly negative, but real side of motherhood. Thanks for linking up with #StayClassy!
This is a beautiful and honest post and really well explained. I think that feeling of being jealous but also trying to control the negative response because you know you actually want to be happy for the person you are jealous of is something everyone experiences at some time in some aspect of their life. #coolmumclub
I think you’re probably right – everyone has their own problems and history don’t they? Thanks for reading and commenting x
I do believe, some mums say as it is expected, you are not really told that you know what sometimes it just isn’t there instantly.
I get jealous because I do not remember a lot from the first 18 months of first borns life, i was diagnosed with Post-natal Pychosis, and even now (15 years later) i suffer bouts of guilt over this, but i also know that you can only be good enough.
I would like to add that my son and i have a great relationship and are very close!
I absolutely love this honest account of becoming a new mother, bonding with your baby, and dealing with PND. I, fortunately, didn’t suffer from PND, but I cannot imagine the emotions one must feel. In the hospital, everything was a blur. A blur of bleeding, and pain, and trying to figure out breastfeeding. Then, the first week of my son’s life, I had so many family and friends in and out of my house. Not only was it exhausting and overwhelming, but I was crying all the time!
I felt like everyone wanted to hold my baby, and he wasn’t passed off to me unless it was time for him to eat or get a diaper change. People kept saying ‘go ahead and sleep’ and I know they meant well, but I really wanted to get to know my son.
Not saying I didn’t love him beforehand, but I really didn’t get that ‘rush’ until after all the chaos died down and I was able to hunker down, with just my little family.
I think it’s all hyped up, to be honest.
When it comes down to it, even though you’ve grown this human for the past 9 months, you’re still meeting a brand new person. Getting to know them. And that takes time (:
Thanks so much for reading and sharing your own experience. You’ve really hit the nail on the head I think – we need a chance to get to know our babies! Thank you x
Great to see you’ve had a successful recovery, i can’t begin to think how hard PND was for you, i remember feeling so totally overwhelmed but it was clouded with so much love and support. Well done on sharing your experience because i’m sure lots of other mums can relate.
I also agree on the blogging mums, so many supportive mums and i’m just starting to make some wonderful blogging friends.
Thanks so much 🙂 x
P.S i found your blog via #sundaystars
I can totally understand why you would feel like that and well done for admitting it. Thanks got linking up to #justanotherlinky xx
Thanks, feel like it’s important to share x
I fell into depression after my second child. It was horrible.
Thank you for linking up with #justanotherlinky
Sorry to read this, it’s so so difficult. Thanks for reading and commenting x
I think its really brave to talk openly and honestly about your feelings. Although I didn’t have PND I get how you must feel I can see from the other side now you are through the hard times looking back you must feel like pang every now and then and I think this post will really help others so it is good you can speak about it. Thanks for linking up to #sundaystars x
Thanks for your kind response, some wounds definitely take a little while to heal but that’s life I guess x
I think the expectations on new mums are rediculous and in a way most who share gushing stories are actually putting a brave face on it. I didnt have really bad births or any pnd but also never felt a rush of instant love, teh first few weeks were hard and i honestly dnt think i felt a wholehearted love for my first born until he was around 8 weeks it grew slowly. Ita so brave of you to talk openly about how ur feeling and i only wish more people would then the barriers would maybe begin ti come down allowing woment to understand that there i no ‘perect’ parent and the guilt would ease as woul the anxiety that can set of a number of other problems. Xxx
Wonderful post which sums up how I felt! I was lucky that with my daughter things were different, although I felt less of a rush of love and more of a rush of relief that my days of pushing mini people out my hoo-ha was officially over!
I’ve been trying to talk about my experience on my blog, if it weren’t for the ‘therapy’ I was getting by writing everything down I would just signpost to your blog! You write so beautifully and eloquently. I wish your blog had been around when I was going through PND x