Some days are much harder than others. Some days feel exactly the same as the day before, like groundhog-day. Motherhood is a mixture of indescribable wonders and utter exhaustion, we all know it, there’s no need for me to reiterate what every mother before me has written, or what every mother is thinking - it’s tough.
I have days where I want to scream and cry, and I often do.
I have days where I’m so tired, my eyes are blood shot and stinging and the thought of physically getting out of my pyjamas seems so overwhelming!
But one smile from my kids and all those worries vanish in an instant. It’s glorious and magical.
We all have days or moments when it seems all too much, and I must admit I have noticed mummy-competition when it comes to who had it ‘harder’ - but it’s not a competition to see who’s day has been more chaotic, or who has managed to fill their time with the most amount of chores or errands while juggling kids.
As mothers we need to stop comparing ourselves and our children to others. For goodness sake, aren’t we tired of the comparison trap? As women it seems we can’t escape it! I feel as if we are ingrained to compete with one another, but for what or who’s benefit?
I’m a mother, with one arm. I can tell you right now that nothing has been more physically and emotionally challenging for me than having a child. But that certainly does not mean my motherhood journey is more difficult than any other mother’s.
We all face challenges, and those challenges are relevant to us in any given moment.
When my daughter was born I was overcome with anxiety, and for the first time ever I found myself looking at other mums wishing that I had two arms … thinking it would make me a better mother.
My whole life I’ve managed to push boundaries and break down barriers, I represented Australia for 7 years in the sport of swimming and during that time I pushed my body to every possible physical extreme, but when I became a mother I started questioning myself … How would I bath her, how would I hold her while breastfeeding, how would I change her and dress her?
I had never felt so helpless and alone. I was terrified.
I looked at other new mums and thought you have nothing to complain about! When they did complain, I would find myself becoming angry, wanting them to walk a day in my shoes as I struggled get my daughter in and out of the car, not to mention how I struggled to assemble the pram and simply get her dressed.
The first year of my daughter’s life was extremely difficult for me, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. My daughter was never a ‘good sleeper’ (I now know that term is total BS because there is no such thing as a good or bad sleeper – just babies learning a new skill), but nevertheless I was certain I was on the brink of a mental breakdown when she was around 8 months old. I was up every hour feeding and rocking. Breastfeeding was agony for me, hello mastitis! My back was burning from the epidural – no one tells you the pain lasts for months! And of course all the weird and wonderful positions I had to get myself into for night feeds meant my neck was constantly stiff and tight. Then there was my memory loss, baby brain is REAL! I was broken. No amount of coffee could help me! (She is almost 4 now and still wakes most nights, for cuddles, and I love it). Getting used to the sleep deprivation was torture (but again not need to elaborate, because we all know what that’s like!) I had no family support, I was living in Perth, Australia at the time and my family lived on the other side of the country and my husband’s family all live overseas. I felt isolated.
Not only was I trying to adjust to my new reality, I was also struggling with daily tasks – tasks that most others would find simple, like buckling your child into the car seat, unclicking the pram which almost always requires two hands, breastfeeding on my right side with no hand to help support me or my daughter, getting her in and out of the baby carrier – all those straps and buckles! Bathing her, how was I supposed to hold her and wash her at the same time? Changing nappies was ok, until she starting rolling and moving! Basically anything child-proof is a challenge for me – because it means you need two hands! I remember I once dropped my car keys, while holding my newborn and a bag of groceries … I wanted to cry, in fact I’m sure I did. I just had to stand and wait until someone was passing by, which seemed like forever but I’m sure was only a minute or two.
Of course the hardest thing for me to do (even to this day) push a pram and hold a coffee! First world problems indeed!
I’m now six months pregnant with my third child and even though I will once again face all of those obstacles, I know I can overcome them. I’ve learnt to do new things my own way. Just as I’ve always had to do – adapt to each new situation, and most importantly, I know when to ask for help.
I’ve also got a great reusable coffee cup!!
Our struggles are personal, they may be different and extremely overwhelming, but I believe that no struggle is more significant than another. So let’s not compare ourselves.
When we compete or compare ourselves with one another in our everyday life as mothers, we only do ourselves an injustice, because when we compare ourselves to one another we objectify ourselves, and when we objectify ourselves we reduce ourselves to things, rather than people.
Since becoming a mother I have witnessed the harsh reality of women wanting to prove to each other that ‘they can do it better.’ Especially through social media.
But we are all doing the best we can with the resources available to us.
Some days I don’t accomplish much, but that’s OK because other days I accomplish a lot, and I remind myself; “I’ve got this.”
I’ve even flown to the UK from Australia by myself with an 8 month old baby! (That’s approximate 24 hours of travel!). Talk about struggle. I am so proud of myself for getting through that flight… just imagine if you will, an 8 month old teething baby on a jammed pack flight, now imagine trying to go to the bathroom while holding her, eating while trying to hold her as she tried to literally jump out of my arms (I’ll forever be reminding my husband of the flight he wasn’t on!).
Now heavily pregnant with baby number three, I literally spend my days chasing after a 3.5yr and a 1.5yr – I compare it to running a marathon!
The point is, we all face challenges, some bigger than others. Most of us can overcome whatever is thrown own way. You might need to adjust your actions or your thinking, but as long as you find your own way of doing things, you’ll be fine.
It’s about managing your expectations and allowing yourself to be open to learn from new experiences.
I know that as my children get older I will face tougher challenges, for example this year my daughter starts school and I’m waiting for the day she asks me to plait her hair (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that). But what I fear most … is when (not if) they are teased at school because their mum looks different.
I know these times will be hard for me, but also for her. As her mum, all I can do is show her through my own actions, that I’m doing the best that I can.
I need to empower them, to believe in themselves and their abilities. That’s only possible if I am demonstrating it to them every day. I don’t want them to grow up feeling as though life is a competition.
As mothers we have enormous responsibility to our children, we want them to be the best version of themselves. And that will only happen if they see us being the best version of ourselves.
Although I haven’t found any products made specifically for mothers with one arm, I have found some great items that have made my life easier as a mother:
Marsupi Carrier – A baby carrier with no buckles or clips but VELCRO! It is so comfortable & they have ones for toddlers too! So cute. Use discount code: “jessicasmith” for 10% discount
Lalabu Soothe Short – The Lalabu Soothe Shirt® is an all-in-one babywearing shirt with built-in nursing bra for mum and a cozy carrying pouch for baby. I used this for both my babies and LOVED it.
Wildbird Ring Sling – Another great way to carry your new bub and have your hand/s free
Wriggle Bum - The Wrigglebum is an adjustable harness that reduces baby's ability to roll during change time. Less wriggles = fuss-free nappy changes!
Reusable Coffee Cups;
Frank Green – No more spilling coffee on those long walks getting bub to sleep! beautiful reusable cups. Design your own or choose from their stylish selection
Stokke - I chose the Stokke Crusi for my very first pram, it sits so much higher than other prams which was perfect for me because it meant I didn’t need to bend too far forward with the left side of my body, therefore no need to over compensate when pushing. I used this for my second baby too. LOVE it.
Babyzen Yoyo – We do A LOT of travel! So when I discovered the Babyzen I was so thrilled. It is literally the easiest pram to assemble and pack away. It’s light, and fits on as hand luggage when flying! I know use this as our every day pram and have ordered the newborn attachment for when baby three arrives
All our car seats are from Britax, nothing unique about any of the styles we have (each buckle it just as difficult as the next!)
When my kids were newborn, I got my husband to bath them – or hold them while I washed them. If he wasn’t home, I would put the baby bath on a bench or table so I didn’t have to bend or lean too far forward. I know you can actually get bath stands – perfect for anyone who might have less upper body movement or a back etc. You should be able to find these at any good baby shop.
A breastfeeding pillow really helps in the early days. Resting your baby on the pillow will take some of the pressure off your back.
I hope some of the above items are useful xx