Do you find yourself feeling trapped within the bubble of parenthood? Do the walls of your house seem to be closing in on you? Does the air feel heavy and make it feel so hard to breathe?
You are not alone
All this and so much more happens to so many of us as we start our journey through parenthood. New mothers, left exhausted and sleep deprived, unable to adjust quickly enough to the changes the new arrival has brought to the life you used to have. No privacy, no time for yourself, no time to eat, to drink, to take a shower. You lose the grasp of the reality and days become nights; you are lost, you are lonely, you are trapped; trapped at home, trapped within the tired and exhausted self, trapped mentally, physically and emotionally.
No one doubts your love and care for your new baby. You love them so much that you give yourself entirely without holding back, you live and breath your child, doing everything to make sure your baby is healthy and happy. You devote, dedicate, you give your all, leaving your mental and physical health neglected because, in your eyes, you do not matter.
I have been through this, and I felt like I was disintegrating. I felt so lonely, even when people were around. I felt helpless, even if help was offered. I felt weak, I felt like I was failing, even when I did well. I was scared to speak and tell anyone how I was truly feeling inside, holding a brave front, masking it with makeup, acting like I had a good control of everything.
I struggled. I hated how I was feeling, hated myself, my post-pregnancy body, hated me. I didn’t like to feel weak, I thought I was not supposed to feel this way. I thought I was not allowed to be anything but strong and put together. How wrong I was!
Exactly at the moment that I allowed myself to simply be, the way I wanted to be in that moment in time, I found the way out from that trap.
It was nine o’clock in the morning. I hardly closed my eyes that night, because my baby was restless and needed constant rocking and feeding. I was beyond words exhausted. My husband went to work and I was still in the same state of shock, and due to a complete numbness from tiredness and lack of sleep, I found it impossible to move around. My baby was still sleeping on my chest and I felt like I was disappearing. I haven’t been going outside by myself or with my baby for weeks, not even for walks or strolls, as I felt so uncomfortable, lacked confidence and just unwilling to face the world in the state that I was. I felt so trapped in my home, yet I also felt like hiding further away from everything and everyone.
That morning, I really wanted to get some fresh air, as I felt my chest was getting heavier by the minute. And then I did something, I never thought I would. I put my wrapped up sleeping baby in a cosy and warm blanket and put him in the pushchair; put some jeans and top on, trainers, long coat ( to cover the mismatched outfit I had on) , put my hair up, shades ( no way I could put makeup on) and I just went out. It was nine o’clock on a chilly morning in London.
I was all alone outside, apart from an occasional dog walker or a jogger. I walked slowly, putting one foot in front of the other, carefully pushing the buggy. My baby was asleep. ‘Just five minutes’ I thought and I told myself to keep on walking. Just like that, putting one foot in front of the other, making the shakiest and unconfident steps I walked for forty minutes all around the docks. I walked slowly, with my eyes often closed for a moment longer than an average blink, slowly inhaling that fresh morning air. There we were, just me and my baby.
I was so tired, but my tiredness didn’t affect me, I was enjoying the fresh air, and in fact, it made me feel so much better. I walked and walked without looking at anyone, hiding behind my shades, looking around and enjoying the freedom of the world around me, all beyond the walls of my house.
My baby had finally woken up and I found myself next to a bench in a small hidden piece of green heaven. I sat there and did something I haven’t done before, I breastfed outside my house whilst being on my own.
I enjoyed that moment I shared with my baby and I realised that there was a world outside the walls of our house.
This was the day I broke free from the entrapment and the prison I found myself locked from the inside of our home.
A way out
Every morning, from that point on, I would go out for a nice long walk, no matter the weather. I liked to go early, whether I slept the night before or not because I liked the quietness of the mornings before the crowds hit the streets. I liked to share those moments with my baby, but I also found this to be the most therapeutic experience for the emotionally and mentally struggling me.
My walks became and still remain my therapy.
Every day I felt more and more excited to go out.
Some days, I’d dress up and have my make up done, others I’d hide in my coat and cover my tired eyes with my shades.
Slowly, my walks became longer and it became my escape from the daily stresses and frustrations as a new mother. I used to talk to myself, and I didn’t care anymore that someone might think I was weird, I was talking to my baby…even if he was asleep, but I was talking it all out, letting it all go, releasing my chest from the heavy weight of raw emotions and uncontrollable feelings. I wasn’t lonely anymore, I had my baby to talk to! And Boy we had some awesome conversations! And the best part was, my baby would never judge me! Neither would he say anything back, he’d just share a lovely smile that makes my heart skip a beat each time and that was the best reply I could have ever asked for!
I then met a couple of other new mums and made new friends. At that point, I found talking to strangers a lot easier than my loved ones. We shared our experience and I learned that I was not alone.
Then, I explored new areas and came up with new routes; soon turning a couple of nice and quiet places into my secret spots; spending hours there with my baby, enjoying our little adventures, having a bite, taking photos and just enjoying being outside.
I believe that my walk therapy had rescued me and has brought light to a very, very dark place that I was a prisoner in.
Whatever you are going through, I’m asking you to make that first step and go outside. Hide in a long coat, put your shades on, leave your house at five in the morning, do whatever makes you comfortable, but please, put your baby in the pushchair, wrap them up warm and cosy and please just put one foot in front of the other and just go out and fill your lungs with fresh air.
I know it’s tough, I know you might feel tired, lost and simply not want to do anything for yourself, but believe me, a mother who has gone through it and knows how lonely and painful the numbness of emotional and mental exhaustion can be, please just go out.
Trust me, your inner self will be eternally grateful if you take your own hand and make that step. You need to break free, to break the walls and push them back from closing in on you, and see that you are beautiful and you are strong, even if you are feeling weak, and all you need is just a little bit of air.
Talk to your baby, even if they are asleep, get all those built up frustrations and pains out, free your mind, your chest, your heart!
And most importantly, just have that time, whilst still with your baby, whilst still being an amazing mother, still have that time for yourself!!! And just breathe! Just walk! Rediscover yourself and at least for the time that you are walking, remind yourself that you are not just a wonderful mother but you are an amazing person!