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I'm Shinada Moore, and you're listening to everyone on the podcast.
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This week, I'm joined by Caroline Foran, the number one best selling author of Owning It and the Confidence Kit Our Bullshit Free Guides to Dealing with Anxiety and Fear.
She's also the creator and host of the hugely powerful podcast series Owning US and a New Mom.
Here we have a really honest conversation about postpartum, the fourth trimester and the lessons. Spoiler alert, it's not all cuddles and t and gloriously serene Instagram posts, but it is real life.
And so if there are days where you feel like you haven't got a clue what you're doing or that others are nailing it while you were drowning. Trust me, you are definitely not alone. Caroline, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast, and I'm I'm really excited about our conversation because you are the queen of the bullshit free guide.
So, you know, you're a best selling author when it comes to anxiety and confidence on your next book about, you know, being more vulnerable with yourself. And those three words for me have basically summed up the fourth trimester. And for many women, I think there is nothing that can rock your vulnerability, nothing that can rock your anxiety levels, and ultimately, hopefully nothing that will enable you to grow in confidence quite like becoming a mother. Well, you know, you've just made it perfect reason to sell the three books as one.
And so much for having me.
I'm so honored to be able to chat to you this morning. And thank you for such lovely words. Like everything you've said is just like so just perfect in terms of the vulnerability. Obviously, I wrote the book about kind of owning your own ability before I was even pregnant. And God, I had no I had an experience vulnerability like this until I thought first day coming home from hospital and I hadn't felt anxiety. I had dealt with a lot of very, very severe anxiety a couple of years ago.
But a very this is a very different anxiety, a complete untethered feeling of not knowing what you're doing and having no faith in yourself. And then at the same time, these moments of confidence when you manage to soothe your baby with skin to skin and it works and you start to think, oh, my God, maybe I can do this. And it's just this, I guess, like thunderstorm tornado between those three bouncing feelings all the time. It's it's you're right, it's a storm, it's an absolute storm, and I think everyone is feeling like there's different waves, there's different wind strength on different days for different people.
It's completely unique and it's completely your own. And I was listening to a podcast yesterday with Conan O'Brien and Michelle Obama, and it was brilliant. And it was all about it's all about relationships and parenting and and the relationship with your husband. And one of the things that they said was it's like when children come along, it's like.
This giant claw can just come and pick you up and shake you are force field speed and if anything is loose, it falls out like such a perfect description that it just rattles you and anything that is loose in there.
Just so if there's something loose in your relationship, it falls. If there's something loose and you it just pulls it. You can't contain what's going on when children arrive into your life. Yeah, so true, I'm actually that's one of the first things I realized I was so grateful for was when you talk about, like the rattling of your relationship, like I knew it was going to be tough on a relationship in terms of, you know, passing the baton to each other.
You're taking over the ship for me now. And it becomes not about you two, but the little baby. And but it just made me realize how important it is and how lucky I am that I had a very solid footing in my relationship before a baby came into the mix, because we're like we don't even fight that much. But there are times when we get so competitive with each other. I know that three come and go like, oh, I just didn't sleep last night.
I'm like, I fucking watched you sleep this morning. Like, tear of each other. And if you don't have that foundation of respect and being able to be kind to each other and allowing for the fact that you're both pretty safe and you're going to stop and you don't mean it, and then just do the odd kind gesture for them. Like letting me, not letting him, not making me feel bad. If I want to go and have a bath, like if you don't have that base, I can just imagine the stress would be just enormous and it would really show up any cracks in a relationship.
So I'm just yeah, that's one of the big things I realized was why I didn't actually know the strength of our relationship until the baby came into the mix.
I think that's what it's to do with the relationship you have with yourself. Yeah. And like, if you're not the type of person who can let yourself go and without fail to take a bath, or if you're not the person who can be vulnerable and say, hey, I'm really struggling and ask for help. It's those kind of things, they they they grow even bigger and they they they can take hold, they can take over until like you will you will reach a wall, you will hit the wall, you will crack because it's it's an endurance.
Yeah. I have never really struggled, I think from from when I decided to first sort of share my story about anxiety and kind of openly talk about that. And I have done it ever since with anything I'm going through. And it's people say, oh, you're so good to share. You make other people feel better. But for me, it's actually a coping mechanism for me as well. Like, I'm looking for reassurance and that's how I get it.
And I want people to reflect back to me that what I'm feeling, what I'm going through is OK and it's normal and there's not something wrong with me. But I found when it came to having a new baby, even though I was very willing to be vocal about how wonderful I felt, I had no idea that I would feel that vulnerable because I didn't see that vulnerability. I guess maybe I was looking for it before I became a mom. What I knew of motherhood or what I saw of it on social media in particular was really, I guess, the best bits and the highlights.
And I know that's the wrong whatever anyone wants to share on Instagram, I obviously share quite a lot of the stuff as well. And that's that's just what I decide to do. But I had a very different idea of what like the newborn phase would be. So even though I'm constantly being vulnerable, it terrified me because I thought there was something wrong with me because I wasn't out for brunch on day one. I wasn't I was crying all the time and only slowly but surely when I started to sort of say that and I started to have this underground rumbling of all these different mothers reaching out to me saying I felt the same, or thank you for validating what I went through 10 years ago, that now it's like a quiet thing of like actually we all feel that the newborn phase is just kind of I call it like a beautiful shit show where it's not all brunch and cuddles and love and you've riddled with self-doubt.
I just yeah, it was real. It's such an unbelievable, unbelievably harsh awakening for me. I had this chat with allegorically when we were talking in her episode about her kind of birth story and about how.
Everything is focused in pregnancy towards that day, almost like it's the finish line. That's exactly what I thought. And it's the it's the beginning. That's the beginning of the hard bit.
And I was just so in denial about that because I remember this ultra calm is just washed over me when I was at the last stages of labor. And I just thought, Caroline, you have been through a very hard pregnancy because I was terrified of being sick and I was puking the whole I mean, speaking right up until I was in labor. I couldn't believe that I got through because that scared me more than anything was just vomiting. I've just had this always had this fear based on nothing, really.
And so I had gotten through that pass. I'd gotten through being in labor in the hospital without my partner in covid. I've gone through all that. And then I actually was I was going to have a section because I was anxious about all the things that could go wrong. So I wanted to have a planned section. And then I was all booked. And then I went into labor 10 days early and I was like, what I do like, I just continue on where I am or should I wait and hold off and you can hold off what should I go and have a section right away or I didn't know what to do.
And then I just kind of thought, you know, you're actually in the throes of it now. You're doing it. You're living through what you really were so afraid of when it got towards the end of it. Obviously, I had the epidural. I then felt a lot better. I just felt so serene. I was like, you have conquered the mountains that you thought you weren't able for. And I really believe that that was the finish line.
And the minute that baby came, all the hard work was done. And all I would do is come home to flowers and tea and toast and cuddles and my baby would just sleep on my chest. And that's why I think I was so relaxed in the labour and B, what I was so fucking terrified after.
So what was it like, if nasty and cuddles, so I think I think, first of all, being in the hospital without having my husband there for you, he was only kind of popping in in the evening for like an hour because I was the restrictions and that sort of start, I started to unravel a bit when he was sort of sent away and I was left with the baby by myself in the hospital. And there was all the mothers in the room with me and they were saying, I, you know, he's fine and you're grand.
And I read like, I don't know what to do with him because I put his nappy on backwards and the midwife was like, get that's on backwards with all these tiny things have started to just erode my confidence.
And then he had this little problem where he started to like, really violently shake. And I get like I'm sitting there by myself at midnight. It's been like, I don't know what's wrong with this child. I don't know what's normal or what's not. And then they told me you might have to go to make you because he had they were testing his blood sugar and it was low. So just all these little things, I think if I was there beside me together, we would have been able to say, look, it's OK and we can figure it together.
But I just felt obviously are already wrecked physically and emotionally from having been through labor. You've given birth to like a hormone factory, which is the placenta. So it's enormous. And I didn't realize I need this enormous upheaval for your body. And then I kind of the first 12 hours after having him, I was the first day I was quite chilled. And then I had the second night in the hospital. And I just, you know, the second night syndrome, you hear of all the midwives start coming in to me saying, how have you been told about the second night?
And I was like, what? It was like an Antichrist for the whole night. And I was breastfeeding at the time. I ended up only doing it for a very short time. But I just obviously like I was alone as every woman is in the middle of the night in the hospital with her baby. And I think she starts to like just to sleep deprivation and how much I couldn't sleep. I just needed a rest. The next day when the midwife came in and I was going home and she was giving me all this information and she was like, watch out for this.
And here's your things like the vaccination passport and hear what you need to know about contraception. I was like, Jesus Christ. I was so overwhelmed with information. I just started bawling, crying and apologizing to her was like, I don't know what I'm doing.
I'm sorry for crying. And she was like, this happens everyone. And I said, I just I don't know why. I don't feel I just feel really scared. And I was kind of right to be left alone with them because I was so unsure of myself. And then I wanted to get home. I need to get home because I'll feel better in my own house. But then I probably went home. I went home after two nights and probably crusade for third night.
But when I went home and I just felt I felt like a giraffe myself, I had just been born. I was trying to walk on my legs again. And I was like, are my eyes were new. The whole world was new to me. Everything looked different out on my Carnel Square. Look different from what I had went in like. I really felt like I had been born again myself. And when I got home, I it was just such a blur.
I remember just panicking and ringing my neighbor across the road and I don't even remember why I said, you have to come over and help me. I was hoping sweat from the epidural. I mean, I was soaked. I had my fingers and everything had all like were so swollen. The baby was crying and I just was consumed by fear. I was just so such a horrible thing. I didn't know, I didn't know I'd feel like this.
And what's wrong with me and why why am I not just feeling so in love? And so just relax. I've been through the labor of doneness. Why can't I just feel relaxed? And I just was the anxiety was just crippling and I was just terrified. And I don't know what I was terrified of, but I just didn't know what to do with him. I felt so like not fit for it. I felt like I needed to have a midwife or someone there with me.
And I guess what I felt like that. And then I thought about, you know, every semester thing. Are you in such a little bubble and are you so and everyone's congratulating you. And I just felt so bad that I just thought, oh, my God, you're a monster. Did something very wrong with you. I now know that I look back. I know I was incredibly sleep deprived. The hormones were raging through me and I was just so upset and I just felt so and confident because it was so new to me that it makes sense.
Now, I felt that way. But at the time I just felt like such a fraud and I felt like no one else feels like this, or am I even capable of being a mother? Am I not maternal? And I remember like panicking when my husband would go to the bathroom or go and have a shower because I'd be left alone with the baby and I'd be afraid that I do something wrong. And it just feels that even already feels like was only 13 weeks ago.
That already feels like a lifetime ago in terms of how I feel myself. But yeah, I just it just the anxiety of the shock of just becoming a mom and having this tiny thing that responsible for hit me like a freight train and no amount of people saying, oh, you know, it'll be hard for the first while none of that even registered with me cause I just thought, oh yeah, whatever, you know, fourth trimester, blah, blah, you know, I've done the hard part.
It really it shook me to my core. I felt inadequate and I felt like, jeez. Women are having babies all day, every day, get a grip, you need to be stronger. This is not anything special, even though it's the first time for me. And it was just a whole new kind of anxiety. And I guess I felt awful because I thought that I had anxiety figured out and I wasn't expecting to be so thrilled by it again.
But obviously, hormonally, I couldn't just decide not to feel that way. It was it was beyond my I couldn't rationalize. I obviously was just that was where my body was, that I was pumping the hormones and everything. And I remember ringing. And Dr. Mary Ryan, who's an editor, chronologies, too. I've done lots of work with and she was so abrupt with me in the backseat of the car. I need to get into bed.
I need to get a couple of nights of uninterrupted sleep, because that is you're not going to feel OK until you get that.
And I just felt like, how am I going to do that? I feel guilty. And then the guilt starts swarming around and then it's just this whole cocktail of my feelings. And then every now and then, it's just like crying because you love this tiny little thing and always want to grow up soon. And what am I going to do? I just I needed I just needed a hug and the times I couldn't even get hold of anyone apart from I was.
Caroline, what you're describing is you've you've never done anything more important. Yeah. You've never done anything more important. You've never held something more vulnerable and precious and in need of survival from, you know, like that.
That's a pressure that nobody will have experience of until they are a parent to hold their newborn who literally requires them to live. You know, you not messing up means this baby will be OK. That's that's a new level of anxiety and new level of pressure, a new level of I don't know, I can do this. Of course, you don't think you can do it. I know.
And I had such physical symptoms. Like, I, I was waking up in the middle if I was sleeping at all. I had all this anxiety coursing through me in the morning and that reminded me of a couple of years ago, because you produce cortisol naturally the morning to wake you up and get you set up for the day. But I obviously already had plenty of it in my system and the slower release and stress hormone. So in the mornings, if I'm in a really bad state, you feel ten times worse.
And I felt like I had this cramp in my stomach. I kept having an upset stomach every morning. I just felt like my limbs were kind of flu like. And then I remember on like the third night and I was home, I was sweating so much that I was walking around naked trying to breastfeed the baby. It does anyone else have this symptom? And I because I was sweating so much that I started to cool down and get the shakes and I was freezing and then I had to go back into hospital.
So I thought maybe it was an infection. And I don't know what it was just anxiety. I was just so and it's for me, I just feel everything so greatly. And I think one of the things that I felt like literally beat myself over the head with was that I couldn't text my friends and just say, it's amazing. It's wonderful, because I can't I, I just don't have it in me to just sort of put on a brave face like I just am who I am.
I say how I am, whatever way that is. And I just I guess that starting now that I look back, I can call people who thought that I was being negative or not appreciating it or I it was it was a case of not being negative or positive or just being the way I was, which was just authentic. And I was terrified, like it was like moments of beautiful love and moderation, but like a lot of just shit us and just survival mode.
And I think only now really starting to give myself a break about it and realize how significant that was. And I guess the more I read a bit better about being one of the most significant transitions a woman can go through in their life, and you're being kind of reborn again. And I read this book, I've actually I'm reading it for the second time now in a row because it's so good in the book what mothers do, especially when it looks nothing.
And it's just that book was like the most unbelievable Kotal. I needed just to feel less alone and slowly but surely to hear from other women and say, know, I felt the exact same. And I think now I'm like, OK, now I want to make other women feel a little bit better if they feel as untethered as I did or lost at sea. And that it does take time, especially when it comes to that feeling of loving your baby, being in love and having that connection, because people are asking me on day one, you must be so in love.
And I was like, yeah, it took me a while to feel lost because I was so scared and didn't know. And I felt like I needed to get to know him. And I needed time to for the fear to subside, to feel like we could figure this out together. And it's really only, I'd say, in the last few weeks that I have had these moments of feeling so much love that it's unnerving. But obviously I'm delighted that I got there.
It's I think it is normal that it can take a while to feel that way, to feel that connection and love. Because at first, I mean, I didn't I don't know about you, but I didn't really feel any connection when I was pregnant. I just felt sick all the time. So I didn't really I didn't start off feeling all this amazing baby, and again, that made me feel like, oh, am I a monster? But now I want to make other people feel reassured that I'm a perfectly normal person.
And if you feel that way, so are you. It'll come and it's OK. And you really have to step back from the path that you're having and realize that it's your anxiety and the hormonal upheaval and that sleep deprivation is feeding you a narrative that isn't based on reality or truth. And you and your vulnerable state are buying into it and believing everything it says and that's perpetuating it. And it's really only for me when those hormones started to naturally settle that I started to kind of lift my head above, I guess, the water and see that I start to react to things a little bit more normally.
And now I feel really, really fine in my own body and I'm just responding to him. And it's stressful when he's crying or stressful and I have no sleep, but I feel OK and I feel like it just took me a while to get to the point of I guess it is a close enough book of trust in you to trust your baby, to trust you. I think on the love thing for me, it was I was almost afraid to feel all the emotions.
Yeah, I was I was afraid to feel the level of love that I knew was brewing and swirling and wanted to come out. I was afraid to feel it because I was I was still afraid to fail. Yeah. And by feeling the love, it almost amplified the risks that I had in front of me. Like, if I if I did feel the love, it would almost simultaneously trigger. You know, what? If you get this wrong and I think the love and fear for a time can run parallel to each other.
Yeah, yeah, it's they're like two sides of the same coin, because if you love something that much, you desperately want it to go, well, yeah, I know it's like the biggest, I guess, test of your life to to look for anything to succeed at in your life.
You want to succeed at this. And I also just think there's so much pressure to be, I guess, less so these days. But historically in culture it has been you can't fuck up as a mother and there's been so much pressure to get it right and so many different opinions. And I guess that even generations, previous generations of mothers just trying to put their best foot forward and never vocalize their struggles has probably wasted on all of us doing it now and now.
It's like I'm wondering, is it OK for me to say that I find this difficult? Is it OK for me societally to say that it's not always amazing? Is it OK for me to say, you know, took me a while to feel the love, and because even when I was talking to my mom about, you know, she started telling me about experience that she had had when she had my brother because it was a six year gap between us.
And she was so traumatized after her experience having him and she never vocalised, never told me and never will talk about it then. And she's just saying now, like, no, she wishes that we had the bravery to to be open and speak to each other about it because like, heaven forbid, you say anything negative about the experience of becoming a mother. And back then and I think that's maybe still lingering a little bit today, but I'm hoping to.
Let people off the hook a little bit by sharing what I share and again, like I said at the beginning, it's not I'm not doing it for the people, like solely for the people. It's a coping mechanism for me to share and to hopefully see that I'm not the only one. I think there's been this really unfair characterized depiction that somehow we just know how to do it, that it will come naturally to us, that everyone says you'll you'll just know because it's your baby.
No one older than you. And I'm talking to. What do you have more of a clue? No, and I think that's where some of the some of the well-meaning advice like that gets a little bit disrupted, because I think that's coming from women who have had children for a little bit longer and do recognize actually, there comes a point where you do start to learn and you do start to get to know that little person. And it's also a really good rebuttal for the amount of advice that, like the the unsolicited advice comes your way when actually you reach a point in your motherhood journey where you're like, no, hang on.
Actually, I am the person who knows my baby the best.
Yeah, it definitely takes a while. I think at the beginning I wanted to surround myself so much with experts and I thought that that was the best way to bolster my confidence. And actually it ended up kind of undermining my confidence in myself because I felt like I had to rely on, you know, a specialist on reflux would say, or what to sleep X or consultant would say or wash any different thing. I wasn't allowing myself the chance to think, well, what do I think and how would I approach this?
And that probably delayed my my instincts in getting to know him because I just thought just bringing the big guns and an actually is a piece in that book what mothers do about that and how, you know, if we turn to experts, we are undermining our own ability. So for me, when I read that and I guess just with the national pastime and getting to know and my baby know, it's funny because now my parents don't live in Dublin.
They live in but know when they when they are here to help me out with him. It's only one of the people there. I realized how far I've come in terms of how I just know, although he doesn't like this or not, this is much easier to do that. And you think you're doing so poorly along until you realize until someone else highlights for you that actually they wouldn't know what to do with your baby, but you do know what to do.
And so that has been really validating, I suppose, to get there and to just be kind of I guess I was a big change for me.
And I probably saw a lot of people in this day and age for in terms of like I was like, well, I am like a problem solver and I want a solution now. And I very like I think it's right brain where it should make sense and should be able to resolve it. And whereas with having a baby, I think it's more or less there and we have to be just trial and error and just listen to your instinct and just go with the flow.
And I don't like the idea of trial and error. I want trial and success. So that was a big adjustment for me to to allow myself to I'm going to have to make mistakes. I'm going to have to like figure it out. And eventually a pattern will emerge that I can say I started to get to know the signposts for my baby. And I didn't at the beginning. I was like, I don't want that. I want to just know.
Right. Like, where is the money? I want to know that right away. And I know I'm you have no choice but to relax into that part of your brain that just sort of listens to the cry and pauses for a moment and thinks, OK, before I just shove a bottle in his mouth, let me think about what this might be. And kind of just, I guess that space between action and toss and and stepping in there and I'm like really just starting to trust yourself is the biggest challenge for me is trusting myself and giving myself that space to really start to to without the help of any experts or anyone.
Tell me what to do to say this is your baby. He's chosen you to be his mother. There's no reason why you're not capable of bringing him up to be perfectly well-adjusted little boy. And just give yourself that chance and don't just I came to it with all these assumptions, as I always do. That's all I'm going to fail. And, oh, I don't know what I'm doing. And I'm actually I've kind of been I'm so interested in like CBT and everything for anxiety and I think so much that's to feel more at ease.
As a new mother, you really have to look. It's not just about the practicalities of knowing what suits them or knowing if they prefer to be cold or lying down. It's working on your own assumptions and thought patterns. And and that for me, has really started to help where I think, OK, I'm going into say, for example, his sleep at night. I was going into thinking if he's if he wakes up, it's a failure.
He hasn't slept tonight through would really it's not because he can't sleep at night through this age. So instead of thinking it's my fault, what he's actually meant to wake up several times a night and I don't have to jump to the conclusion or the worst case scenario that it means that I'm failing. So for me to kind of step back and that's will always help me with my anxiety, whether it's to do with being a mother, anything is to take the helicopter approach and step back and look at your thoughts and your feelings and behaviors and just observe them for a while and to find that kind of loop, the feedback loop, uninterrupted and separate fact from opinion and separate what your anxiety is telling you from what evidence there actually is.
Er, and if you look at the evidence, if anyone takes a moment, as I say this, my friend the other day, she's on her second baby, she was feeling unsure about feeding and everything. And I said, look, if you just take a moment to look at the evidence, there's no reason to think that you're not doing a good job. And I just find that really, you know, your baby smiling at you. You're coddling your it's just as there is evidence there if you're willing to look for a.
You're describing twenty seventeen me, that's what I think has made me really believe in everything that you just said about the Sebti and about how we think and about how we approach each challenge and each each minute, like early motherhood is not day by day. It is literally minute by minute, because something that you tried last minute won't work and the next minute. But the biggest lesson for me over the last few years has been that that is exactly who I was three years ago.
That is exactly how I felt. That is exactly how I thought. And that is exactly how I treated myself. Yeah. And. There's all all of this information from experts about how and what to do in order to care for your baby and what to do for your baby and what's normal for your baby and what are the steps in the processes for your baby. And such an absence of what's normal for me, what's normal for the new person that I am, the new person that I have to discover, the new person that I have to build from scratch because I don't know who she is anymore.
Yeah, it's so true. And I think that even in terms like the experience in hospital or all of the kind of prenatal classes that you do, it's the emphasis is so much on the baby, on the practicalities of the baby. And I I'm thinking, like, would it have helped me to know that I might feel this way in the beginning before I had the baby? Or would I have totally freaked out because was nothing I could do about it then?
But I actually think if I had known how normal it is to feel less shocked and untethered, even though you knew it was coming all along, like I keep saying, you know, everyone told me I knew I was pregnant. Nobody told me I was having a baby. Oh, if I think if I had known this now it's going to take a couple of weeks and not just in terms of like logistics, of getting to know how to put the baby down, but for you to feel like a human being again, you could put one foot in front of the other.
I think I would have probably been a bit more compassionate with myself from the get go where there was a complete lack of that. There was no focus on the mother. And even for me to even say, like when I made the decision to stop breastfeeding and because I just I found it just I was just not in a good way mentally. So I felt like I couldn't get any benefits out of it in terms of bonding. And I wasn't it just wasn't working for me.
And I'm still plaguing myself with the idea that maybe I give up too soon or but I even felt guilty for the whole idea of, like, happy mom, happy baby. Or you can pour from an empty. I still think it's quite a new idea that we have to allow our self, our well-being and our mental health and our physical health to be up there as a priority along with the baby's health and wellbeing. Not that the baby comes first, we come second.
But, you know, it's a it's a two way street. It's a universe. And you have to be well to care for your baby. And I still feel kind of guilty for almost putting myself up there and saying, well, I think I actually need to look after myself. And I think I was in a position to do that and vocalize that because I've I've had such good training, I suppose, in my history and experience of having to realize how important my well-being is and how it's OK to do that.
And I kind of wonder if if another woman who finds out in that situation would just never give herself a chance to think that she deserves to feel well mentally. All these women who are struggling and doing so in silence because they think it's all about the baby and it's all I'm so lucky to be here and this is what I want. I'm so grateful for both things can exist like both you can be you can have wanted your baby so much. I've been I've tried so hard for it.
I'd be so grateful and love it. And I'd also feel at the same time terrified and like, you're not really coping well and you need a break for yourself, like both it's not one or the other. And I think that's really important for people to know that you can it's not like me vocalize that I'm finding it hard. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy being a mother. It doesn't mean I don't have these beautiful moments, doesn't mean I want it to be any different.
But that's the reality. It's not black and white. It's all these different colors in the mix. And and I think we have to confidently say I'm as important and as worthy of nurturing and soothing and feeling well as the baby. Otherwise it all falls apart.
Do you think we're afraid to let people see that there's a part of us that's falling apart?
Yeah, I think it's just especially an Irish thing. And and I think that's been probably the thrust of my work, really, as in my books and everything is to own our vulnerability and to to just lay it all there. Because when you do that, like when you're willing to embrace a vulnerability for me anyway, it has become my greatest strength and it has led me to better connections with people and more meaningful relationships or even in terms of my career is probably down path.
I have been more authentic, even professionally. People, I think, are afraid of vulnerability. I think it might negate professionalism, but it's not about being open to attack or open to anything bad happen to you. It's about being authentic. And I think that's where people go wrong with the idea of vulnerability. I think we get it wrong. And and that's like a lot of what I'm exploring in my book that's coming out in January. And I actually know that.
I mean, I haven't really read it again since I had the baby, but I want to go back and see how much of it I can apply for myself to my new situation. But I really think that there is a fear in every aspect of society and has been of ever showing our weakness or our perceived weakness. Like, I don't see it as weakness, but I see it as vulnerability. And we all it's funny, like because we're all walking around incredibly vulnerable.
Like if you take vulnerability in the literal meaning that we're, you know, we all could walk out and get hit by a bus. Not one of us is going to get through life without being vulnerable. We're vulnerable to the pandemic. We're vulnerable to heartbreak. We're wonderful to any different things. Yet we're also afraid to show that we feel vulnerable. But if we just take down those barriers and agree that we're all in together, and I actually think in a way, the pandemic is.
Helps because like, say, for example, the man you jumped on, Zoome, they're both in our pajamas and I probably have on me somewhere I got yesterday's eyeliner salon and we've had to kind of break down those barriers. And it has helped people to see that we're all trying our best. And I think it's made for better. I guess people have produced better work in this environment, I think, as well. And I think a better, better relationship is the big thing for me.
And and then ultimately just feeling more at ease with yourself because you're not trying to be something you're not. And it's something that I've really realized lately, because I think we all struggle so much with imposter syndrome and never more than when you become a new mother and you want to put out there that you're doing OK. And for me, imposter syndrome is what we feel when how we view ourselves privately is at odds with how to put ourselves out into the world.
And the way to combat imposter syndrome as a mother or in any way is to bridge that gap and close that gap between how you see yourself and what you put out there. And that in order to do that, you have to be willing to allow yourself to be vulnerable. And that doesn't mean you have to cry at work, but that doesn't mean you have to, you know, just Instagram post of you falling apart. It just means you have to just look for opportunities to be more authentic in your day to day life.
So, you know, I'm finding it really difficult or having good days figuring it out. And that allows the person you're talking to say, you know what, me, I'm the same. And then you have a much better connection. I think. I just think it's I just employability so necessary.
Love talking to women because they have taken they might have all taken the same piece of information, but they all have different outcomes.
Yeah. Yeah. It was so important for me to take a step back and which is like experts are so important. But I would hear one thing from one person and say, oh, this is what I must be doing, and then I'd hear something completely from someone else. I would just be flip flopping going around the place. And I just got so overwhelmed by all the different schools of thought when it comes to anything from feeding to trying to get the sleep to anything.
And I just feel like nowhere in the mix here have I passed by giving myself a chance to think about what I would do or what feels right to me or what just to really listen to that to that instinct. And actually, there's a chapter in my next book. It's called Naked Truth to Change Your Life. And each truth is kind of an uncomfortable truth sometimes, such as am willing to be vulnerable, makes you kind of invulnerable because we don't know when we like being vulnerable.
And there's another one about the fear that someone else success will take from yours, or there's another chapter about how you could do this is actually so relevant to whether how you can do anything but you can't do everything. And one of the chapters I wanted to focus on was our intuition and how like we tend if you think about a traffic light system, we tend to live so much between, like red or green stuff or go, I'm like in a traffic light system, flashing amber like stuff for me.
You can kind of like into your intuition, but you have to slow down. And it all the Amber Light is asking you to do is just to see, like, should you should you step off or can you proceed with caution and like in that moment, in that space between stop and go or this opinion and that opinion, can you listen to yourself and allow your intuition to rise to the surface? And only when you kind of let that stillness happen and you're not chasing answers and chasing different solutions, only then can your intuition sort of have the space to come to the fore, and only then can your own voice in any way, whether it's in a new job or whether it's as a new mother.
Only then can it really start to rise to the surface. And in order to hear your intuition and let that develop for you, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. I love how you, as you know, use, you know, all of this, you know, you've dedicated, you know, the last few years of your career into educating yourself on these and then bringing this information to us. But what I think is incredibly powerful is that in the moment of transition from who you were to who you now are.
You did fall apart. You know all of this and yes, and I don't want to use the phrase like even you because there's no reason why you shouldn't. Yeah, but imagine how people feel when they don't know anything of what is happening psychologically behind all of this.
I know. Yeah. Like, in one way, it was a blessing for me that I understood the anxiety and understood the hormones, like I've been here before in different ways, different guises. But in another way, I did have that pressure of what you've written the book on this. You should be able to marshal anxiety. You people are asking you every day, what should I do? And you're giving advice. Well, first of all, I try not to give personalized advice.
I'm not a doctor or anything. But you're sharing what you're learning. I have to keep reminding myself and reminding other people that when I write books or whatever or whatever I'm doing with the podcast or anything, like, I'm figuring my shit out as I go as well. And I'm just taking everyone along the journey with me. And just because I understand anxiety doesn't mean you shut it off, especially when it comes to being a new mother. Because like I said, I had this of struggle last week where I felt I just felt like I wonder I was thinking about what people, my friends who maybe didn't how babies were thinking about me and how vocal I was and wondering were they thinking I was just negative or could I just decide to just be positive and just get on with it and just look at the brighter side and raising my baby healthy and looking to be here?
And it's so important to realize that this is why I can't outsmart anxiety and no one really can. When the hormones are all mixed up, you can't think your way out of it. You can't decide to feel a different way. I think that's so liberating for people as well, even though it might seem scary that you can't just switch it off. But when you go through it or people or change or transition like that, all the hormones are to take time to settle down.
And you can't just say, OK, I realize that I'm anxious, I'm just not going to be anymore. So in that sense, just because I understand anxiety and understand what's going on behind the scenes, psychologically, hormonally, everything, it doesn't mean I'm not susceptible to it. And I think it's really important for me so that I don't feel pressure or overwhelmed. It's important for me to still share when I feel that way because I don't want to ever come across like, oh, I'm this is where I was and this is where I am now.
And I know everything. I remember all my anxieties at its worst. And I was going on I was falling down rabbit holes on YouTube of like how to cure this and how how can I never, ever feel panicky again? And I was getting through these YouTube videos where you had to put in your bank details. It was this person being like, I used to have ten bucks a day and now I'm perfect. And I thought that was the goal.
And it's just complete bullshit. It's so unhelpful. And I think it's just so important for me, for myself and for other people to realize that you don't get to a point of having it all figured out. You don't get to a point of never feeling anxious. Life will throw all kinds of things at you and you'll feel that rise and fall of anxiety. But the more you know about it, the more you understand, the shorter those waves will be, the easier it will be to sort of give yourself a break.
But it doesn't mean you don't go through them or feel them. And that's still the case for me. And it will always will be. And it's not about getting rid of anxiety, but understanding it and knowing how to respond to it when you get it. But sometimes, such as when I had a baby, it just knocked me over so much that I did fall apart again. And that's OK, too.
And it's OK for everybody to know that that's something that could happen. I think we hear all about all this heartburn or swollen ankles or, you know, guess what? Your stomach grows to grow human. That's what stuff happens psychologically and emotionally and hormonally as well. And and one of like. So I have a five week old and it's really it's a massive learn for me in this conversation when we're we're talking about this and I'm having all of these kind of memories like it's it's it's a really raw feeling that I still have.
But it's a feeling associated with my motherhood journey three years ago. Yeah, it's a feeling I like. They're all brewing in me. Both are memories.
And do you wish you could go back to yourself then and kind of give yourself a hug and reassure yourself that you would that it was OK to feel that way? So I already feel like I wish I could go back to myself, to the hospital and say, you know, it's OK, you're doing OK, you're doing your best massively.
And I and I think. This experience of having a newborn know it's such a blur. Yeah, it is. And like, I don't know if no, I think she is very similar baby, but I'm a completely different woman. Best way to describe it. And I'm not saying that the juggle with two is easy because it is not. But definitely the experience of a newborn is nothing compared to the first time. And I was reading your son's fourth trimester article the other day like it's all so, so, so familiar.
Like it's it's almost like raw force is. It isn't what I'm feeling this time. That's amazing.
My friend, one of my best friends, also had just had a baby there two weeks ago and she was in a heap the first time with her first baby. And she when I first had Kaitlyn, she was saying to me, you know, like I was like me, am I OK? Like, what's wrong with me? Why am I find this so hard? And she's like, Caroline, I'm going to get my husband to call you and tell you what a state I was in a lot of returns because she seems like so together all the time.
But then for her second baby, she was bestiary from the hotel or from the hotel hospital, which was a hotel. And she was just saying, I feel so different this time. Like all the horror, even the physical recovery felt different for her. She just felt so much more confident, even picking up a newborn. So it seems to be like obviously logistically it's a lot harder, too, because you've got a toddler to look after. But you yourself are a whole different level of just trusting yourself, which I hope to get to at some point.
It's that's the biggest lesson for me, that actually what I was going through had nothing to do with this is how you care for a baby and had everything to do with this is how I am completely transitioning as a woman. Yeah.
Yeah. And I had no idea about that until I was there. I mean, I just thought it was you just go home with your baby and then you're going to blissful love bubble. I had no idea that since I'd never heard the word, I was like, yeah, whatever. But the fourth trimester, I, I mean, I think you kind of have to be that way to a certain extent in order to not freak out beforehand. But really, it has been the biggest transition for me as a woman, like you say, because I've had such an anxious response, I guess in those first few weeks.
I keep saying that my husband obviously I think every every time, even every every first patient experience, you like to do this again, like we only have the one we keep saying to ourselves where we don't like, we just need to get this figured out and then we'll be fine again. Papa, to me, even though I think it would be nice to get my shit figured out and then just go back to being myself as a new mom, part of me wonders, I wonder how I would feel differently if I would feel differently if I went again in a few years.
And I wonder, would that just prove to myself that I'm a normal person and that it's a shock to everyone the first time around? Because I'm like I think sometimes when I think about not having another baby, it's more out of fear than it's due to my lifestyle. And I don't want to live my life, you know, guided by fear. And but I guess it's completely understandable that in the first few weeks of having your first baby, the last thing you're thinking about is adding another baby into the into the scenario because it's so new to you.
And it was so funny, like like I say, in the hospital when they were like so, you know, Irish twins are very common and you're very fertile and you have a baby.
And I was like, are you joking? Like, if he even comes near me, like, I will absolutely throw a wobbler. I was like, there's no fear of me getting pregnant again any time soon. And even the evidence of my checkups and other people are like jumping back in the sack so quickly, like I can't even put one foot in front of the other, never mind. Feel like less of like a wildebeest right now to even have sex, to have another baby.
So that was just that was just for me because I just felt so like how could I do this again? But it's been really comforting to hear from you and hear from my friends and other women who have eventually had a second baby. And they're like, Carolyn, I was right where you were the first time. And this time I'm just I'm a new woman. I know myself. I know giving yourself a break would not be so nice. Just give yourself a break.
I would love to get there.
And you went and look, I know I know women on their second who actually have found us more and more challenging because for something that's going on in their life, you know, having a baby trigger, it's those emotions. So there's no like it's one or the other. But I can only speak from my experience in us. Like for me, the biggest challenge wasn't actually caring for a baby or learning how to care for a baby or raise a baby or have a baby.
It was learning how to know who I was. And now I've been in that role for three years that a new baby coming in. I just it's not that I feel like I know how to do this, but all of those swirling scenarios of what's wrong, what should I do this? Should I do that? Should I Google this falling down the rabbit hole of of overwhelm and insecurity. That stuff isn't there. Yeah. On a. So much calmer and I have very similar babies like their sleeping pattern, the same their feeding pattern is the same.
It's not that one was harder than the other. It's that I was easier or I am easier on myself now than I was then.
Yeah, that's amazing. Well done for getting there and for allowing yourself the space to just take it easy and give yourself a break, because I just think, especially as women, we really don't allow ourselves to do that. And the guilt, the new mom guilt is something else. A whole other conversation totally didn't like even from from worrying about your relationship, how it looks like that's where even my dog makes me feel guilty, cause I think he's looking at me so sad anymore.
Like, I guess the mom guilt is just here to stay, but hopefully it'll eventually simmer down to the quiet and always in the back of my mind and be less loud. Yeah.
If you could write a book on that, that'd be great because I hadn't figured out the guilt stuff.
I know, but I also think I was kind of I was thinking about it. I actually wrote a piece about it on my website. But I think the very fact that you're able to feel guilt means you're already doing a good job because you're so conscientious. It's because you care that you feel guilty.
So but in the interest of total honesty, when I say that having a second is easier, it absolutely is in terms of the baby element, but a whole other learning curve when it comes to the older child. Oh, yeah.
Yeah. I mean, there's no there's no like easy this so much easier. I guess logistically things are different and more challenging. And I can imagine when you were pregnant, it was harder having a toddler to look after as well. And but it's what if you just look at it in terms of your experience and your growth in your development? Yes, it's challenging. And I'm sure people have kids that are so different, like yours are very similar, you said.
But if you can get to a point where you show yourself, then you can kind of handle anything really, I think. And I credit the trusting and the growth over the last few years, I credit it entirely with conversations. Yeah, I credited with what that is, though that's the strength of vulnerability, because you're allowing you're allowing yourself to be vulnerable in the conversation to happen with other women. And together, the more we share that, the more we kind of it's like we're standing we have an army behind us then.
And that's what I feel since I've shared things are sometimes too personal to share an awful lot and maybe a bit more to maybe take a step back. I'm like, hold on a minute. First of all, this is all I have right now entering. But I feel like there is this army of women literally holding me up and I feel like I can't handle this. And it's this whole top, I guess army is the word I'm thinking of.
Just women who are have your back and they don't know you at all, but they know exactly what you're feeling, what you're going through. And and that's all because of a willingness to be vulnerable. And then when you embrace that, you feel kind of invulnerable, you feel like you can handle anything. And that's just that's the amazing thing about women sharing, I think.
Caroline, thank you so much for this conversation. And I I fully believe that it will support you will be passed. You are part of somebody else's army that you have never met and you don't even know what I know from listening to this. They will feel supported from from hearing your experience.
I really hope so. And thank you as well for allowing me the space to talk about it, because, you know, now you're part of my army as well, and you allowed me to have this conversation. Makes me feel more validated, makes me feel more accepted in society that it's OK to feel that way. So it goes it goes both ways.
I think we all benefit from this. And hopefully, hopefully someone who's on their second night in the hospital or they've just come home and they're feeling as untethered as I was, will will feel that it's OK and not trust that this will eventually level off. You won't feel like this for very much longer and you start to trust yourself and you'll start to find your feet. And even though you really believe that it won't happen, it will.
Thank you. Thank you so much. You made.
Thank you so much for listening. Want to hear more from Caroline, join Water for their Instagram live this Thursday, November 26, at 4:00 p.m. with Caroline and comedian Ali Taylor.
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