By Melissa Grant
The first few months of motherhood is an experience like no other.
It can be a joyous yet overwhelming time filled with doubts, moments of frustration and feelings of loneliness.
The Motherhood is a refreshingly honest book about life with a newborn, featuring raw and compassionate accounts of those precious but challenging months from some of Australia’s favourite women.
For author and commentator Jamila Rizvi, it felt like her once tightly controlled life evaporated shortly after her son Rafi was born.
“My confident, proud sense of identity replaced with a zombie who couldn’t tell day from night,” she writes.
“The reality that the life I’d lived up until then was gone – and wouldn’t be coming back – hit me like a punch in the face.”
A comforting letter from her friend, musician and actor Clare Bowditch, assured Jamila she would get through what was a tough time.
Jamila, once an advisor in the Rudd and Gillard governments and editor-in-chief of the Mamamia Women’s Network, brought together The Motherhood as a way to pay it forward to new mums.
“Primarily, I wanted to write the book I wish I had,” the well-known Melburnian told Casey-Cardinia Kids.
“I read a lot of books … none of them were about looking after yourself in what is a huge transitionary period.”
The Motherhood contains 32 raw letters from prominent Aussie women that they’ve written to themselves about their first few months of motherhood.
They touch on everything from the crushing sleep-deprivation to breastfeeding struggles to postnatal depression.
“I loved all the letters,” Jamila said.
“There are similarities between mine and (climate change campaigner) Anna Rose’s – I really related to her self identity being tied up with her work quite a lot and losing a sense of identity.”
“Some were very unlike my experience but I really liked them.”
Comedian and radio presenter Em Rusciano’s letter is an hilarious account of her introduction to motherhood, revealing the horrors of the first post-birth poop and the lengths she would go to in order to get her daughter to sleep. Em declares the worst thing about giving birth is going to a mother’s group, however author Holly Wainwright insists you should never miss a meeting.
Journalist Lanai Scarr gives an insight into what it’s like to raise triplets, while TV presenter Sarah Harris writes about she became a trending story during her pregnancy for ‘slamming body shamers’ after declaring on-air “Bugger it. I’m growing a baby”.
For Jamila, being pregnant wasn’t enjoyable and, like many first-time mums, she was focused on getting through it and the birth rather than what would happen afterwards.
Jamila said many new mums going through those first few months had told her they were feeling much more positive after reading The Motherhood which, fittingly, was launched to a chorus of crying babies.
“I think it makes a great gift for mums to be and a companion for mums getting through that first year,” she said.
The Motherhood, edited by Jamila Rizvi, Viking, RRP $34.99