Hey there Beautiful,
There are a lot of expectations that we have for ourselves, and expectations that mamas (and everyone) can feel from society. These can weigh heavily, but often the naming and understanding an expectation can take some of its power away. The pattern that I've seen play out over and over is one that my friends and I call "The Reverse Cinderella Complex" (the phrase was originally coined by Eisenberg). See if this sounds familiar for you:
There is a lot of positive attention given to pregnant women, strangers come up and talk with you, ask questions and be generally happy for you, touch your belly; friends throw you a baby shower (or mother blessing). There are games and good wishes and gifts of cute little shoes. Excitement and anticipation are high. In spite of your swollen ankles, you are feeling optimistic.
After the birth can be another story, though. You haven't slept in what feels like years, your friend might drop off some muslin cloths, tiny shoes, or a meal. Despite their good wishes, visitors might feel overwhelming or unwelcome. You make it out to the shops, finally, but your little one is unsettled (potentially because you feel unsettled). There isn't support and warm words from passers-by; instead there looks of judgement or unhelpful comments. There isn't a party to be excited for, your partner is back at work, you are at home feeling ragged and unsupported.
You had the ballgown, the excitement, the party like Cinderella before your birth. But after, you can feel like you are isolated, sweeping out the fireplace (or changing your 100th nappy) in tatters. This is the reverse Cinderella Complex. As Eisenberg said so perfectly: – the pregnant princess has become the postpartum peasant.
This lack of support, isolation and overwhelm in new parents is a big part of my inspiration to be a postnatal doula. Now, the story I've told you is anecdotal and sad (why would anyone want to go through that?!). I'm writing about it to name it, to take its power away, because I believe this has to change. I don't want anyone to feel like this. Ever. I don't care where your support comes from, whether it is from my Postnatal Village, another postnatal doula, or your friends and family. I want to take the power away from this Reverse Cinderella Complex and give it back to YOU.
Maybe you could organise baby showers, or mother blessings, with food and services as gifts (less appealing than those adorable tiny Nikes, but way more practical). Maybe you could send a message to your friends, or leave a note on your door, asking them to be respectful of you and your baby, asking them do the dishes before snuggling your new little one. Maybe you could travel to the shops with some lightness and playfulness and "buggy bingo" in your handbag, rather than take unsolicited words to heart.
My wish for you, and all mothers, is that you have all the support you need.
How would it feel to be nourished and supported?