Posted: 6 November, 2018
By: Annebel Labuschagne
‘Mama’ is one of the most wonderful, fear-filled, rewarding and selfless titles one will ever earn. I recently earned this title for the THIRD time and feel truly blessed! But with this blessing came a totally new sense of insanity!!
My brain was on guard with the first cry of my brand new, beautiful blue-eyed girl. With that first cry came an overload of new sensations: the smell of milk and baby breath, the touch of soft skin on my chest, unconscious rocking movements to soothe my precious one (even when I hear her call in the distance) and high-pitched cries, oh the crying….
As an Occupational Therapist it is my job to inform and assist moms with their children; I know baby- and toddler lingo all too well. The truth is that no amount of knowledge can prepare us mamas on the sensory challenges that Motherhood brings, and the effect it has on our relationships and well-being.
I became intensely aware of emotions elicited by these new sensory experiences-
- Anger towards my older two kids who cannot seem to remember NOT to run on our wooden floors while I breastfeed their little sister. They also tend to have some really important questions to ask while I am trying my utmost best to create a calming environment for their sister’s daytime naps….. more anger!
- Irritation towards my spouse (who has a very high tolerance for sensory input) who heightens the energy levels when he arrives home at 5h30 pm
- Frustration when I cannot seem to find 30 minutes a day to move my body, on my OWN, in order to get the ‘feel-good’ hormones going. And agitation with tight waistbands and non-supportive feeding bra’s.
- Sheer relief when I can switch off the nursery room’s light at night while listening to baby lullabies and white noise as my youngest drifts off to sleep.
- And guilt when I leave the rest of my family ‘alone’ for an extra 15 minutes after baby has fallen asleep, just to remind myself what ‘sanity’ feels like.
As moms we naturally protect and shield our kids. From day 1 we are constantly busy trying to create the ‘perfect’, womb-like sensory environment for our babies. We are on the lookout for signs of over-stimulation, discomfort, raised temperatures and possible pain. Our primitive self-protection system, the autonomic nervous system, not only warns us of personal danger, but also alerts us of possible dangers threatening our children. We are exhausted….
I came to the realization that we have the ability to survive on an almost empty tank. But I strongly believe that we should not accept living only to survive, but start finding our joy in this important role that we play. I refuse to live by the saying ‘this too shall pass’, but rather strive towards:
‘in this too I will find contentment, I will find magic Mama-moments’.
So for now, dear Mama, let’s go a bit slower, let’s breathe, let’s believe that we are enough, that we are loved.
Learn how to reduce your stress through sensory strategies, by completing your Sensory Matrix™.