“I’m a third time mum, I’ve got this”.
It was June 2020 and I was sitting in my hospital bed after having my third baby. A lactation consultant knocked on the door and asked if I needed any help with feeding, to which I smiled politely and responded “I am a third time mum, I’ve got this”.
Fast forward to two weeks later of me sitting on the couch crying hysterically because guess what? I most certainly did not have this.
After having breastfed both of my boys with no real issue (except those first few days where you completely forget how the pain of the latch! Ouch!) I expected this baby to be exactly the same. In fact, truth be told – I expected it to be so much easier because I was a third time mum and “I’ve got this”.
Refusing help at the hospital consequently led to me enduring weeks of excruciating pain with feeding, ugly crying, anxiety leading up to feed times and a lot of mum guilt and shame. Why was I feeling so ashamed? Because I was a third time mum and all of this “should be easy”.
It was only after I finally made the decision (with a gentle push from my husband and our social media followers) to seek some help that I discovered that Arielle had a severe lip tie and tongue tie, which was causing issues with feeding. On top of that, I was also diagnosed with vasospasm which is a condition in which the blood vessels in the nipple literally spasm, causing intense nipple pain. To top it off she also had an indented chin which was also making feeding even more difficult. But yeah “I’m a third time mum, I’ve got this”.
In all other areas of my life, I would consider myself a very analytical person – if there is a problem, I analyse this and come up with a solution. Heck I was a lawyer for 10 years, this was the very thing I was paid to do! However my analytical brain was nowhere to be found at this time, instead all that was left was judgement and self doubt. I was not trying to find a solution, I was too busy telling myself “You have done this twice before, why are you struggling?” “You SHOULD know how to do this?” “There is something wrong with you.” “You are not trying hard enough.” “You don’t need help, you just need to suck it up and persevere.” “It will get easier”.
This experience was one of the biggest eye openers for me about not only my own motherhood journey, but the journey of others. Forget the expectations and pressures of others, we have everyone covered with the pressure we place on ourselves. I have never propelled so quickly into a shame spiral as I did during this experience (the hormones and sleep deprivation of course didn’t help either) and honestly it really threw me for six.
It was only when I shared a video of me crying about the struggles I was facing that I realised I was not alone. My inbox literally blew up with messages from mums across the world, sharing their story and how they had experienced the same thing. Not only the issues with breastfeeding, but the shame and guilt that they were failing as a mother, that it “should” be easier, that they are failing because things aren’t coming “naturally”.
If you are a first time mum or you have navigated the journey of motherhood multiple times before I am here to tell you that every journey is different. Every baby is different. Every experience is different. And guess what you are different too.
Please from one mum to another, do not believe the lie we tell ourselves that we are failing because it is hard and things are not coming “naturally”. It may be breastfeeding, sleep routines, dealing with hormonal teenagers, managing grandchildren – whatever it is, you are doing the best you can and you are doing a brilliant job.
Most importantly know that you are not in this alone. Honestly the love and support I received was truly overwhelming when I allowed myself to be real and to admit that even though I was a third time mum I did “not have this” and I needed help. It was one of the most empowering and liberating experiences of my life and made me realise that we can’t do this alone. Motherhood is not a journey that should be navigated alone.
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