Serena Williams came out of the motherhood gate pushing hard. She was determined to return to form super quickly after her textbook pregnancy and hoped (as we all do!) that birth would be a breeze. Turns out the best-laid plans are often waylaid by babies and bodies, and baby Alexis Olympia’s birth changed everything up to the extreme for the tennis superstar.
The struggle is real
Serena had an unbelievably difficult birth involving blood clots and several surgeries, and her recovery understandably took longer than she anticipated. Her return to the court didn’t play out as she’d initially envisaged – and basically having a baby has turned her life upside down.
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Almost every woman who’s given birth will relate to Serena’s current state of mind, as she adjusts to her (and her body’s) new normal, learns to parent her new baby girl and works hard to reclaim her peak fitness and champion status.
Honestly? She’s a blinking marvel from where we stand, but she notes that she’s feeling the familiar tug of mum guilt – and wishing she had more to give her baby.
“Last week was not easy for me,” an emotional Serena wrote on Instagram. “Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best.”
Serena’s “postpartum emotions” will be familiar to every mum, because even if you’re not one of the one in seven women who experience full-blown postnatal depression, chances are you’ll deal with some pretty complicated feelings as you adjust to being a parent.
Read more about Serena Williams:
- “Everybody is different”: Serena Williams cried when she stopped breastfeeding
- “Everything went bad” Serena Williams’ life-threatening birth complications
- Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian introduce their baby girl
The familiar pull
Serena says she’s trying to navigate the right balance between all the roles she’s keen to fulfil, and frankly, she’s feeling really torn. Being open about her struggles with those that know her best is helping, the tennis pro says.
“Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be.”
“A true art”
While Serena’s keen to share her own experience and has some unique pressures, she points out that nearly all mums are navigating their own version of this juggle.
“Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I’m here to say: If you are having a rough day or week–it’s ok–I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!”
So true. There always IS tomorrow and it’s kind of nice to know that even superstars feel like terrible mums, at least a little bit of the time. It’s not just us! #solidarity
If you – or someone you know – are expecting a baby or have recently become a parent, and are finding things super-tough, please get in touch with the good folk at PANDA. They’re on standby, ready to support mums and dads through difficult times.