This is a letter one of our customers asked us to share. It is her story and she hopes it helps others from succumbing to the bullying of the mummy world around them, while pointing out to those bullies and trolls that you need to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before jumping to judgement.
Dear Mummy Trolls and Bullies who haunt the Internet (and everywhere else),
I pray you never have to be where I was. New mum, new baby, who wasn’t sleeping AT ALL. Weeks turned into months of tears (my own), frustration, guilt, depression. My husband moved out of our bed, out of our room because he couldn’t stand the constant up and down and up and down with the baby. I hit rock bottom. And yet I still smiled when asked how we were doing, I still said we were fine. I felt like I had failed at what should have been, in my opinion, a job driven by instinct. I hated myself and at times I hated my baby, then hated myself even more for feeling like this. I mean, I loved her, of course, but sometimes I just couldn’t stand to be around her when she was crying AGAIN or not sleeping AGAIN and I didn't know why.
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I asked for help when no one was watching. Not wanting to let my friends or family know that I wasn’t coping; that I didn’t know how to be a mum. I sought advice from lots of different places and often got really conflicting information, which didn’t help me at all. I was made to feel ashamed by medical professionals because I had tried to give my baby a bottle so that I could have a break from this relentless, smothering fog. I was bullied in online forums by other mums because I wanted to “fix” my baby’s sleep, for offering a pacifier, for not just going with the flow and instinctively responding to my baby’s needs. The fact of the matter was, after months of trying I still didn’t know what my baby needed - I had never done this before and all I received was criticism at every turn, and shame.
My relationship was breaking down. My husband and I were so sleep deprived we couldn’t function as normal human beings let alone a married couple. All I could think was “it can’t be like this for everyone can it?”. I kept getting told that this was “normal”, that it was “just a phase” and my baby would “grow out of it”. To “trust my instincts”. I really thought I didn’t have any instincts.
One day was bad and sticks in my mind. We’d been up all night, like usual, and hubby and I were fighting about something small and stupid, like usual, and I just walked out of the house. I walked out leaving hubby and the baby behind and I kept walking. I walked to the end of the road, then down to the park and I had tears streaming down my face. I sat on a bench seat and I sobbed my heart out, big heaving sobs for a good half hour. As cathartic as this was, I still knew I had to go back home and back into the place that had become like a prison for me. There was, literally, no break.
In the middle of that night, while up with my baby, I was scrolling through Facebook. Like magic, an ad popped up on my screen saying “need sleep?” I was like YES!
Long story short, I got my baby onto a sleep program which I was able to instantly download. I had access to a support group with thousands of other mums in it who had all been where I currently was. It was like a light switched on. I found a village. I found like-minded people.
Like some kind of miracle, my baby started sleeping and becoming more predictable. It wasn't even hard or complicated - in fact it was far far easier than I thought it could be! She was happier. My mood lifted, the fog cleared. I actually started to enjoy this parenting thing for the first time in months, maybe ever.
And then, unbelievably, the criticism started again. Worse, it was often from friends and family as well as from random strangers on the internet. This time it was “I can’t believe you’ve got your baby on a schedule” and “letting your baby fall asleep on her own is child abuse” and “no baby should be forced to follow a routine”…
You just can't win.
It seemed no matter what I did, I was criticised for it. What these people didn’t know is where I’d come from before they jumped to criticise me. What they didn’t know is that I was a much better mother with a much much happier baby. That I was confident again, that my relationship had started to claw it’s way back. That I was rebuilding my bond with my baby.
And so, this is for you trolls and bullies: HOW DARE YOU. How dare you criticise me for making choices that are right for me and my baby, when I'm at my lowest. Don’t force your own personal parenting opinions on me because I sure as hell don’t force mine on you. How does my parenting affect you, stranger, in the slightest?
When there is such an absence of 'community' these days, we should be supporting one another as mothers and not tearing each other down. It’s a bloody war zone out there. And no one can survive that.
A Fellow Mum.