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Selfish in Motherhood: A lesson we all need to learn.



I don‘t even know if I should truly call myself selfish but I bet it’s a catchy title; here’s the thing, as part of my Postpartum Doula work I am committed to guide expectant mothers into their postpartum journeys with a new level of consciousness many of us weren’t even offered. I say “offered“ because it’s not a question of informed choice when you don’t have the possibility.

When I became a mom, twice, there was just no awareness being promoted all over the place. There was all sorts of preparation for birth but none for postpartum & even less for motherhood ; and I tell you what, there ain't no ball I can sit on that makes it easier. Somebody please teach me hypno-motherhood or make some epidural-like pill to numb down some of the daily life painful mothering situations.

Crazy yeah? None of that exists, but hey we go into pregnancy & labor knowing it all, we shop like pros & then we get thrown into this circus UN-PRE-PARED. Nada, zilch, zero. We are the worst kind of fools, the confident type. We embrace not knowing anything because it's better that way. We do make it, but we pick up some bad habits along the way simply because we didn't get any other options.

Now, luckily, there is a lot of postpartum care focus in many countries & Covid-19 is in part to thank (or blame?); & tho Norway is not one of them, there are a few of us trying to push for it.

Today I understood I am not following what I preach & with even more certainty I understood mothers out there need to develop awareness from the very beginning; or you will end up with an ear ache on a weekend night, suffering & paying an expensive doctor appointment because you never understood that prioritizing yourself is indeed prioritizing your children!

Yes! That is the message today. That is the mind-blowing experience I have been going through myself for the past 6 days while growing increasingly tired, annoyed at the world for making any sound & now at myself for being a complete idiot & not realizing I do come first so my kids can enjoy the best of me.

See, here’s the deal. We moms, are taught to be selfless & that’s all awesome except we tend to do everything so well & so passionately that we go a tad bit overboard & end up completely neglecting our needs, or at the very best leaving them at the end of any to-do-list. Like, way at the end, mostly last sentence on the back page.

If you are wondering what does this have to do with postpartum? Everything ! It has everything to do with postpartum because it is at that precise & unique time of your motherhood journey that you can change the game or, like most of us who’ve been there already, accept the status quo never knowing there’s a better way to be a mom. Yes. I have said it. There is a better way. An easier way, actually.

I’m sitting here on a Saturday mid-July night in Oslo waiting to see a private doctor... if you are from anywhere not in Norway, you will not think much if this but it’s basically the last place you wanna be. The city is empty because it’s Saturday, it’s night & it’s the middle of the summer so basically no one is here & only someone desperate enough would drive back from the holidays to get seen by a doctor because here, in Norway, getting sick is a M-F thing, preferably before 4pm, or you’ll have to do long lines for free a health check or pay the piper some good bucks. In Norway most doctors are off all of July.

It all started Monday morning with my left ear totally blocked. It got better & worse & by Saturday morning I had become the robotic mother who has to turn her whole body towards sounds just to hear what my kids & husband are saying. Brutal. It increasingly became an issue until, by this afternoon, I realized I’ve been basically unable to hear anything for the past 3 days. It was a bit annoying at first, now it’s just down right absurd.

I did, however, do my motherly job with due diligence & prioritized time with my kids, lunches, dinners, playtime & tantrums over my own wellbeing. I even prioritized two clients' wellbeing before mine by doing two massages without hearing a thing. I even managed to help, somehow, three couples & two moms with slings at our bi-weekly meeting, making sure their wellbeing & their child’s wellbeing was taken care of; before mine. Now I realized I hardly remember any conversations I've had all week considering I can’t hear my own thoughts since Monday morning. So, did anyone need me? Did anyone try to get my ear for me to do my actual job of holding space for parents? Cos honestly, I don't remember.

How absolutely insane is that? For six whole days I have prioritized everyone I know - & some I’ve never met before - because that is the motherly thing to do. Somehow, I was convinced they needed me more than I need my hearing. Here’s the truth. That is absolute, pure & unadulterated bullshit. Yes. I’ve cursed. I am a mother & I curse occasionally. Lie. Pretty much every day.

As I sat this morning not hearing my husband & kids, exhausted of not listening I wondered: what kind of job am I doing trying to tell moms to prioritize themselves during postpartum so they can avoid this precise situation four years down the line when I, myself, can't do it? It was both eye opening & painful. How in the name of anything has neglecting my wellbeing done anything good for my kids - or my clients - this week? It hasn't .

I wish, yeah sounds like a total sales pitch because it is, when I was pregnant & a new mother I had attended a program where I was taught one simple lesson: I matter too, even after becoming a mother. I wish I had learned that the moment that ear popped I should've stopped in my tracks & gotten help. Because this is the real deal here; I have no clue how many beautiful words I've missed this week cos I couldn't hear them. I don't know how many fun games I didn't play because I was too tired & annoyed to do anything but feel sorry for myself. Don't know how many stories I missed with my clients because I was unable to listen & connect. So, next time, I need to embrace the selfish within me; make everyone second best & get myself better so I can give more to those around me.

Sounds simple? I dare you to try !

New mamas, pregnant mamas, postpartum mamas, yes it matters. More than the most beautiful pram. Yes it matters. More than the cutest outfit. You matter more than any material thing you have on your list. That is why postpartum preparation is a the center of my work. That's why postpartum support matters. Seasoned mamas, it matters for us, too. If you will have more babies, change your postpartum experience. If you are done, help me give other moms a chance so we can all try a bit more to do more for ourselves & each other. We matter more than any gourmet lunchbox. Our kids want us to listen, literally. I just spent a week without hearing a word they said because I chose to prioritize everything except myself.

An hour for myself for a week for my kids... mind-blowing!

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