“I felt empty and bereft”; the after birth feeling that nobody talks about

Mother with newborn in nursery

Experiencing feelings of loss, emptiness or grief when your perfectly healthy baby leaves your womb is more common than you think. This mum wants you to know that if you feel this way, you are definitely not alone.

“I felt empty and bereft”

Bundaberg mum and pregnancy blogger, Rosemary Williams, has shared a heartfelt post on Instagram about “the dark side of motherhood” and her raw feelings of loss and separation after giving birth to her baby boy, and it is a reminder that when it comes to our emotions in the hours and days after giving birth, almost everything is normal.

“One of the deep feelings I was surprised by in the first 24 hrs after the birth was grief,” writes Rosemary. “I felt empty and bereft. I felt a deep sense of loss. Even knowing this beautiful little being was here, sleeping with me! A part of me grieved the separation from him.”

Rosemary admits that at first it was hard to accept how she was feeling, believing she should be grateful for her healthy baby boy. 

“Who am I to grieve the loss of a babe that is here with me, simply outside of me now? I should be grateful, not sad!!”

 

One of the deep feelings I was surprised by in the first 24 hrs after the birth was grief. I felt empty and bereft. I felt a deep sense of loss. Even knowing this beautiful little being was here, sleeping with me! A part of me grieved the separation from him. The intensity of it had me in tears. In the past, before this last journey through hyperemesis, I would’ve guilty shoved away that felt-sense into my shame box. Who am I to grieve the loss of a babe that is here with me, simply outside of me now? I should be grateful, not sad!!This journey I’m on of accepting all of me instead had me acknowledge the feeling, accepting its presence, doing my best to not judge myself for it. I shared the feeling with my sisters and nodded as they heard me and told me it makes sense to grieve the change, and feel the loss like an ache. I think of these kinds of feelings as the dark side of mothering. The frustration at your child for Needing you, intense anger at their determination to do whatever you’ve asked them not to do, the revulsion at being touched just one more time when you are completely touched out. They are feelings rarely voiced, often hidden in the dark corners of our self, afraid of being seen. Strangely, it’s been the process of acknowledging these feelings, accepting them and loving myself anyway that has allowed me to show up MORE as the mother I want to be. As I let myself be flawed, I’m able to be more present, take a steadying breath before raising my voice and I allow my children so much freedom in their own expressions of self. I accept them and love them as they are, wilfully, determinedly, heart-achingly mine. #darksideofmothering #mothering #birth #postpartum #4thtrimester #acceptingwhatis

A post shared by My Inner Brilliance (@myinnerbrilliance) on

It’s OK to grieve

Rosemary’s post is a reminder of the deeply intense emotions we all experience when we finally hold our babies in our arms. From the immense joy and love to the lows of the ‘baby blues’, the wide gamut of emotions we feel can be overwhelming and even confusing in those first few hours and days after birth. It’s good to know that whatever heavy emotion we’re experiencing, we are not alone.

As Rosemary’s friends so wisely told her, “it makes sense to grieve the change, and feel the loss like an ache.”

The dark side of mothering

Rosemary also believes that mothers should share and embrace without judgement the many other times when parenting feels a bit (or a lot) overwhelming.

“I think of these kinds of feelings as the dark side of mothering,” she writes. “The frustration at your child for Needing you, intense anger at their determination to do whatever you’ve asked them not to do, the revulsion at being touched just one more time when you are completely touched out. They are feelings rarely voiced, often hidden in the dark corners of our self, afraid of being seen.”

Oh, we feel you sister! #allthefeels. We’re pretty sure that every mother has felt this way at some point.

No judgement

Rosemary has learned to treat herself more kindly and with less judgement and we reckon she’s got the right idea. 

“This journey I’m on of accepting all of me instead had me acknowledge the feeling, accepting its presence, doing my best to not judge myself for it.”

We’ve written before about mother rage and the importance of opening up about the realities we face as mothers and parents. It is in this way that we can begin to support each other throughout the dark and the light times of this parenthood journey.

Knowing that someone else totally gets it just makes the world of difference some days, doesn’t it?

 

Did you experience any surprising emotions when your bub was born? Share your stories with us.

 

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