Being a parent brings many new demands, both emotionally and physically. You find yourself faced with the intense vulnerability of this little person and in the first few months in particular, a likely feeling of the overwhelming burden of keeping your baby alive. As months go by, sleeplessness may become routine and it can feel a struggle to get though the day. Other responsibilities begin to creep back in, or never even left. You might feel quite alone in all that you have to do and in your struggle in your new role, yet it is so hard to ask for help, to reach out to your partner, friends or family.

Asking for help means admitting both to yourself and to other people that you cannot do this alone. It means acknowledging hard thoughts and feelings, of at times maybe resenting your baby, feeling angry and frustrated, even helpless. Growing up, it might be that those who cared for you did not seem to be able or want to notice when you were upset and when you were in need. You learnt that you needed to find ways to manage these feelings by yourself, that these experiences you had, these types of thoughts and emotions were unwanted and pushed away by other people. You learnt to hide vulnerability and as an adult to develop ways to feel in control of your circumstances. This is all shaken apart by the arrival of your baby, as they are a separate person and you know you cannot control them, determine how they will be and respond. Even more so is your knowledge that your baby needs your help with all that they feel, the very experience that was possibly absent for you, you are now needing to try to offer to another person.

Perhaps in childhood it felt as if demands were made upon you, to achieve, to strive, that conditions were placed upon feeling loved, accepted, or wanted by your parents. These communications may not have always been obvious, but were inherent in the quality of your interactions in your childhood home. It could be communicated through a look, a turning away, an absence of affection, a disappointed tone, a parent who was rarely at home. All of this telling you, you had let your parent down, you had not done well enough. It is important to state that your parents did not intentionally set out so that you felt this way, they likely, like the vast majority of parents, strove to do the best they could. These types of communication are borne from your parents own understanding of themselves and relationships, come to be repeated with you. These feelings are, as maybe for you, large to the point of overwhelming, so they had a major impact on how they saw the world, themselves and of course you.

To show vulnerability, to admit that you need help and cannot do it all the time, might mean for you that you have failed. A common thought may be to think that someone else always has it tougher, that you are therefore unworthy of the support and care of others.  If we grow up with this perception then we might have found that we have formed relationships with others that confirm this belief. So perhaps you have tried to ask for support, but other people seem to minimise or even dismiss what you tell them. This may be a common experience for you in relationships.

Therapy allows for the exploration of what takes place both within you and between you and your partner and your baby. It offers the opportunity for those parts of yourself that have been so hard to look at, that you have maybe felt ashamed of, unwanted by others and you, to become gradually accepted, to be acknowledged as part of who you are. Therapy with your partner can enable different ways of understanding and communicating with one another to emerge and ultimately new ways of being with one other to grow. It makes caring for your little one more manageable, that you find you are less fearful of the expressions of their feelings, that you are more able to help them and being with them becomes more rewarding.

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