No time for judgement.
As new parents, in a sleep-deprived haze, not knowing what we're doing is par for the course. I was the same - I was used to knowing what I was doing and being pretty successful. I was independent - a strong woman, and I knew what life was about and where I was going. I was fit and active and in charge of my own body.
When I was thrown into motherhood, it all changed. I hated being pregnant, felt nauseated throughout, had a super long labour, complications at the birth, newborn in intensive care, and then postpartum depression. I felt tied to my baby and unable to achieve any respite. I hated my helplessness and I hated myself for the unreasonable emotions that were coursing through me. Of course I now know that this was part of the postnatal hormonal challenge, compounded by lack of sleep, but at the time, it made me horrible to myself and to others. I didn't give myself a break, so was never going to give others a break either! I didn't know what I was doing, so I would Google endlessly for answers and agonise over the tiniest decisions about what was the right thing to do. Whichever path I chose, I was constantly worrying about whether it should have been the other option. I judged myself endlessly, so it was easy to apply the same lens to everyone else.
Whilst this sounds endlessly negative, actually once I could see the wood from the trees and we started to settle into a routine, I began to see a way forward. My confidence, and that of my husband, increased once we had had a baby for more than a few weeks and she was still alive. We couldn't have been doing too badly after all! Once your insecurity disappears, or at least lessens, you become a nicer person to everyone around you too. And being more forgiving, less judgmental, and nicer to yourself has the knock-on effect of you being nicer to everyone else. And guess what, the kinder you are to others, the kinder you are to yourself.
This positive circle is at the heart of self-care. You matter, others matter. Self-care matters. Your positive vibes are reflected back you in the way that others behave towards you. And if they're not, they will be at a later date. And if they're still not, you're a happier, and mentally healthier, person because of those positive vibes. So go on, be nice. It will do you the world of good.
Clio Wood founded &Breathe Postnatal in 2015 after her daughter was born. Clio is from London, has lived in Paris, Singapore, and on a canalboat, and is married to Bryn. She has a degree from Cambridge University, used to be a headhunter and then an interior designer/upcycler.