Alice candidly shares her heartbreaking experience of how her long-cherished dream of becoming a mother has turned into a nightmarish reality.

After a relatively straightforward birth, a planned C-section based on my age and the baby’s size, our son arrived.

Alice Mann opens up about how her dream of becoming a mother has now turned into a nightmare. (Stock image used)

There were moments when I thought I despised my baby, although in reality, I despised the situation and, more than anything else, I despised myself.

When they placed him on my chest, I didn’t experience that surge of love people talk about. Mostly, I felt disbelief that after such a long wait, here he was—our baby, and we were now parents. I do recall, three days later, being in a postnatal haze of euphoric hormones, standing in tears of joy by his crib as he peacefully slept, marveling at this miraculous creation we had brought into the world. “He’s so perfect,” I whispered, overwhelmed with awe.

But four weeks later, I struggled to recapture that feeling. Because what I felt as I stared at this crying baby, the baby I had yearned for so deeply, the baby that I had invested years of my life and a substantial amount of money (around £100,000, although I stopped counting after £50,000) to bring into existence, was not awe. It was resignation, resentment, horror, and utter misery.

“There isn’t a single part of this that I’m enjoying,” I sobbed.

And then guilt would wash over me. Guilt for having these unnatural, unmotherly feelings. Guilt that this poor, defenseless baby had been burdened with a mother like me instead of someone better. Guilt because I knew there were millions of women out there who would gladly trade places with me in an instant.

I knew this because I was one of them.

For years, I dismissed complaints about the trials of motherhood from ungrateful women. Didn’t they realize how fortunate they were? Didn’t they know I would give anything to be in their shoes? Didn’t they grasp the luxury of being able to complain about sleepless nights and not having a moment to themselves?

I would have given anything to be in that position.

And so, during those early weeks, the phrase “be careful what you wish for” echoed in my mind.

With the benefit of hindsight and more sleep, I can now rationalize those early emotions. I don’t believe I had postnatal depression, a condition that affects one in ten women, but I do think that the perfect storm of sleep deprivation, hormones, and recovering from major abdominal surgery compounded the fact that nothing can prepare you for the seismic shock of having a tiny baby.

“There isn’t a single part of this that I am enjoying,” I sobbed.

Ironically, considering how long I had been trying, I was less prepared than most. Partly because with each failed IVF cycle, my goal shifted. I started out wanting a child, and then I just wanted to get pregnant.

And as the likelihood of that seemed increasingly uncertain, I didn’t allow myself to contemplate what life with a baby might actually entail.

My closest friends, who might have confided in me about their postnatal emotional struggles under normal circumstances, felt it would be insensitive to complain to me given how desperately I was trying to be in their position.

Whenever I heard new mothers lamenting their situation, I simply believed it would be different for me.

If I’m truly honest, I hadn’t anticipated loving the stage of having a tiny baby. I never found newborns particularly appealing, preferring children when they became more interactive, when they could smile and communicate.

But I could never have predicted how utterly miserable the early stage would make me feel.

On paper, I had nothing to complain about. While not an “easy” baby and a reluctant sleeper, my son didn’t have any serious health issues, and both he and I took well to breastfeeding, which often presents challenges in the early days.

I was mourning the carefree existence I had before.

So why was I so unhappy? It would be easy to assume the problems stemmed from the fact that the baby and I didn’t share DNA, but deep down, I instinctively knew that wasn’t the cause. And part of the reason I was so sure was because my partner, our son’s biological father, felt the same way I did.

Our emotions ebbed and flowed, each of us taking turns to reassure the other, sometimes with varying degrees of conviction, that it wouldn’t always be like this, that it would get better.

But there were also moments when we stared at each other in mutual horror, wondering what on earth we had done.

“I hated myself because I was clearly a heartless monster for feeling the way I did,” Alice candidly admits. (Stock photo used)

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