Having a baby changes every woman. For some the change is welcomed and comes easy. On the flip side though there are quite a few will resonate with losing your confidence and struggling with your new identity as a mum. Let me assure you that if you fall in this second category you are not alone.

My first born was born prematurely and it was a lot to process. I thought I had another 10 weeks of ‘me’ time. I was working my way nicely through box sets, reading books, chatting to friends, shopping and just generally able to focus on just me. It took me quite a while to realise that losing your confidence when becoming a mum wasn’t uncommon.

I knew this would all change when my baby arrived, but nothing prepared me for the whole NICU experience or how I would feel as a person. Being a mum is the best job in the world but it is definitely the hardest job I have ever had as well. I watched from the side lines as my little boy fought for his life. Suddenly I didn’t care about my appearance. I felt like a bit of failure as I couldn’t give my son what he needed. My confidence hit rock bottom.

The confidence boost

The nurses were amazing at showing me how to get involved with my son’s care. I wasn’t allowed to touch him for the first 5 days because as soon as he was handled his heart went into SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia) and would beat too quickly. The doctors decided to keep handling him to a minimum. As soon as I was allowed to touch him I became nervous but very quickly got over those nerves.

I wasn’t as quick as the nurses yet, the more I did it though the quicker I became and soon I was able to work out the logistics of doing cares through the doors of an incubator. Every day my confidence grew a little bit more. I was starting to feel a bit more like a mum. I became engrossed in hospital life.

Then my son came home, on the fourth day the unimaginable happened and he went into respiratory arrest. My husband managed to resuscitate our little boy while I rang for an ambulance. Once we go to come home we were advised to stay at home for 2 weeks to minimise our sons exposure to germs. Two weeks turned into a bit more than that. I had lost my confidence to go out. After some gentle encouragement from family and friends I decided to get out for a few short walks.

Lisa with her preemie. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy
Lisa with her preemie. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy

Getting out and meeting people

I had a little route mapped out and I decided that a short walk where I was never more than a few minutes from home was safe enough. One of my very early walks I was stopped by a lady wanting to take a look at my baby boy. She cooed over him and asked how old he was. I told her his actual age rather than his corrected age. With him being early his actual age made him small in comparison to a term baby his age. The lady tried to take control of my pram. I had to quickly explain his birth and justify to this stranger why he was small. As soon as I could get away I scurried back home.

From then on, I took the dog out for walks with me. He is a big dog so the only people who came near me then were dog lovers interested in him. My baby was the secondary to the dog (got to love dog owners!). Walking the dog gave me the confidence to get out for daily walks.

My next step was to brave a baby group. I went to a few and came away feeling deflated. There were cliques of mums and if you didn’t click with one of them instantly you were left on your own. They couldn’t have made it more obvious you were the outcast. I spoke to a good friend and she recommended a group. I was reluctant but I turned up and it was brilliant. We became regulars and went every week. My only regret was not finding this group earlier in my maternity leave.

Confidence coaching – losing your confidence and getting help

My maternity leave ended just as I was really getting to know my little boy outside of a hospital setting. I was just becoming more self-assured in my role as a mum and then I had to hand him over to someone else to care for him (an amazing childminder) while I returned to work.

Work was a whole new battle I now needed to contend with. I went and bought new clothes and shoes that lasted a week (we are allowed to wear whatever we like as long as it’s not inappropriate). Soon I opted to be back in my comfy black pants, flat shoes and plain t-shirts. I suddenly found I needed to find the bit of myself that wasn’t a mum. I had to dig deep and I found that it took a lot of work.

I’ve recently been working with a confidence coach and some of the exercises she has taught me have been amazing at unlocking some fears and finding a confidence that has been there all along just hidden away. losing your confidence doesn’t mean it’s lost forever. Sometimes we just need a little help finding it again! Michelle has been amazing, you can find her on Facebook at THE CONFIDENCE HIVE.

Stacey’s confidence journey

Like Lisa becoming a mum for me was not what i was expecting. I was 18 when I became pregnant and gave birth a few weeks before my 19th birthday. I was a happy go lucky, carefree outgoing (probably a bit naive) young girl who was just starting to find herself. Before becoming a mum I didn’t know who I was so being mum quickly became my identity.

I was eager to prove everyone wrong who said my life was now over. So I pushed forward to be the best mum I could be and also create a life for us alongside being mum. I enrolled in university and my confidence grew as I had time to be Stacey again and not just Hayden’s mum.

Two years into uni I suffered an early miscarriage which was questioned by a healthcare assistant at the hospital I was training in. “What made you think you were pregnant?” she asked. I was devastated and her questioning made me and our pain feel so insignificant. I decided to take some time off and my confidence plummeted.Within my time off I got pregnant with our rainbow baby and decided not to return to uni. Then I went on to have our third child a few years later.

With each child I had my own identity became more distant and I became much less confident in myself. Conversations became harder to hold. I’d get anxious at the though of having to speak to someone new and even making phone calls became difficult. But to the outside world I still seemed like my old confident self.

Stacey
Stacey

I had become super good at faking it!

After having Keagan premature I knew I had to work on this. I didn’t just have to be confident to get myself through NICU and ongoing hospital appointments. I’d a premature baby and 3 older boys who needed me to be confident for them too.

I found that confidence and anxiety worked in hand with each other. The less confidence I had the more anxious I felt but the more I worked on my anxieties the more confident I became. For me confidence has been a rollercoaster ride and I am still working on my identity beyond being mum.

It’s an ongoing journey and for me, personal development and self care have been high on my list of things to help. Really knowing who you are and being happy with who that person is, for me, a huge factor to building confidence. So my tips if you aren’t feeling as confident as you’d like would have to be look inwards. Seek out who that woman is alongside the mum title and also explore what is holding her back. Question your anxieties, discover what it is that prevents you from being the person you want to be and work on breaking those barriers down.

If you feel like you’re losing your confidence and you’d like some journaling prompts for this please reach out, I’d love to help! xx

Woman standing confidently with sunset background. Photography credit: Miguel Bruna
Woman standing confidently with sunset background. Photography credit: Miguel Bruna

Did you see?

We really hope you have enjoyed this blog and realise that losing your confidence is not a permanent thing. Our last blog was all about Emergency Services day. We are so grateful to the emergency services and even though the in person event was cancelled we wanted to share our stories and appreciation in the blog.

If you want to find like minded preemie families who have either gone through this journey or are currently going through this journey then come and join our Preemie Support Village on Facebook