Have You Ever Felt Powerless As A Mother?

Have you ever felt powerless as a mother?

From the moment we learn we are carrying life, our only mission is to strive to protect our children. We hold them close, we nurture our bumps, we vigorously research guidelines and we anticipate the day we will finally meet our Crown Jewels. 

In some circumstances, we don’t get the chance to meet out Crown Jewels because they’re needed in heaven where the angels belong. But those memories of their tiny hands and feet will forever remain in our hearts. I would like to honour this post in loving memory of Baby O’Toole. Baby O’Toole is the angel of Katie, who is our first story. Rest beautifully angel. It’s never good bye, only see you soon. 

The bond we create while pregnant is indescribable. We tell our babies we will always protect them, we will never let harm come to them and that we will be by their side till we take our last breath. BUT! What happens when you’re faced with a situation that prevents you from doing all the things you promised? 

“10 Mothers, 10 Stories”

I have brought 10 women from around the globe into one forum to share a time they have felt powerless as a mother. WHY? Because there is no magic guide to motherhood, it’s unpredictable, it’s scary and it’s a whirlwind. It’s time to talk, it’s time to raise awareness and it’s time to empower. In a world where our parenting skills are scrutinised the minute we walk out the door. I WANT, I NEED mothers to know that we have all felt powerless, and that’s ok. 

    Mother of 3

There was no heartbeat” 

Last August {2017} I went in for my 19 week OB appointment. I remember being so excited because the following week was our big ultrasound so we could find out the gender of our baby that would be joining our family in January. At that appointment, there was no heartbeat and my baby was only measuring 15 weeks. It felt like someone had sucked all the air out of the room.

They sent me over to get an ultrasound to see if they could figure out what had happened. I lay there sobbing as they did the ultrasound. This was supposed to be such a happy time. After they did the ultrasound the Doctor came in to talk to us. He told me that from the ultrasound they still couldn’t see what had caused the miscarriage and not to blame myself, there was nothing that I did wrong.

The Guilt

Of course, I blamed myself. I had never felt so helpless or powerless in my life. I was this baby’s mom. My one job while being pregnant was to keep this baby safe. Help this baby grow and develop. A year later, there isn’t a day that goes by, that I don’t think about that baby. Think about what I did wrong. Did I not eat healthy enough, did I not drink enough water. Did I not rest enough or did I push myself too hard? The list went on and on and to this day I still don’t’ know what happened. I never will.

As mothers {and women} we all want to be perfect. We all want to be the best. But that is such an unrealistic goal. If it weren’t for the other moms and women around me, I don’t know how I would have gotten through that time in my life. I had so many women sharing their own stories with me, telling me they loved me, or just sitting and crying with me. It made me realize how important we all are to each other as we go through motherhood. It has made me step outside of myself and look around at other women and mothers who might need that same reassurance that I had been given.

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 Mother of 1 

Our genes had created his illness” 

I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, unlike anything I’d ever felt before. My son had a genetic disorder. Because of us, our son isn’t quite the perfect baby we thought he was going to be. The moment we were told by the consultant that Fletcher had Cystic Fibrosis, was the first experience of feeling like a powerless mother.

Before we were given Fletchers diagnosis, I’d never heard anything about Cystic Fibrosis. A few days after Fletcher’s heel prick test we were called to visit the hospital because “something” that came up in the heel prick test we were not informed as to what exactly it was. This, as you can imagine, was extremely frightening.

When the day came and we were in the hospital waiting room, we felt nervous waiting for the unknown. A consultant called us in and dropped the news on us like a tonne of bricks. Throughout the entire conversation I kept looking back at my gorgeous newborn baby.

I felt like it was our fault. Our genes had created his illness. I was at the lowest I had ever felt in my entire life and I just couldn’t contain the tears. Nothing prepared us for what we were told and I just wanted to turn back time and pretend it never happened. You just don’t imagine something like this to happen to your new family. Will he be able to live like like a normal child? So many questions rattled through our minds, due to being totally uneducated about CF.

The overwhelming emotion

As a mother I felt guilt, sadness and complete and utter helplessness. I couldn’t take it away from him. I couldn’t make him better. I wanted to pick him up and hold him close and tell him everything was going to be alright. We both, as parents, felt like we’d already failed our son. Emotions were high for at least a week after his diagnosis. Reading more information about CF both frightened us and gave us hope. We had no idea what lay ahead and we just wanted our son to be happy and healthy. Thankfully, this was the lowest point and it only got easier from here.

There is no worse feeling than feeling like a powerless parent.

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 Mother of 2

“We have to be stronger than the struggle, we have to KNOW we will overcome. Together we will, one problem/one moment at a time”

Honestly, I feel like choosing just one moment of feeling powerless is doing a disservice to other mothers-expectant, new, even seasoned moms who are currently in a time of struggle. The truth is I have felt this way many, many times in my motherhood. I feel this way today actually.

For me it started when after 2 days of labor my first child still would not come out!! I was powerless to make that happen. It continued through times of colic, when I couldn’t soothe my baby whatever I tried. The first days of preschool when they clung to me not to go and I cried in the car afterwards feeling like I had no power to give them that courage to say goodbye for a few hours.

I am now in the elementary school time of my motherhood and the powerless voices are still ever present in my head. When they walk into school I am powerless to help them find their voice against bullies or to be brave enough to make new friends. I can”t make a teacher “get them” or help them learn a new concept. Outside of school, yes. Inside, no- I’m not there. This feeling is like a neighbour that plays their music too loud, it’s there no matter how you try to quiet it or hope it will move to another neighbourhood.

It’s OK not to be ok.

We cannot prevent disabilities (learning included), other children that hurt their feelings, unforeseen illness or moments of difficulty. What we can do, what we will continue to do is to show up, advocate, have hard conversations, worry, and put in the time and effort. We will never stop searching for answers, methods and resources to help and to give this everything we have. There’s a reason they say “the struggle is real”…it is!! We have to be stronger than the struggle, we have to KNOW we will overcome. Together we will, one problem/one moment at a time.

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Mother of 2 

Your child is struggling to breath and there is nothing you can do…. Powerless would be an understatement”

Imagine this, you get a call from your child’s nursery asking if you can collect them as they aren’t presenting as their normal happy selves. “But don’t worry it’s nothing to worry about” they insist. 

As you approach the nursery you see an ambulance parked in the middle of the road which prevents you from driving down the road so you spend a few minutes looking for parking. As you walk past the ambulance, your hands start to sweat and you think “I hope that’s not for my child”. But you quickly talk yourself out of the idea as the nursery confirmed everything was ok. 

Before you even have the chance to ring the bell, you are greeted at the door which is so strange as they normally take a while to answer. As you walk past the members of staff they all have a look of worry on their face, and ask if I can make my way to the office. I ask where my son is… They all remain silent. 

As you approach the office, you hear silence, followed by a weep! As a mother you recognise your child’s cry’s for help from mile off! My foot steps begin to pick up pace and I begin to run towards the office. 

Imagine seeing your child, on the floor, on a stretcher being held down by two paramedics. With his arms out reaching for you to hold him. Imagine being told that you can’t hold your baby because they specialist help. Your child is struggling to breath and there is nothing you can do…. Powerless would be an understatement. 

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Mother of 2 

 “Being a mother while trying to repair yourself mentally and emotionally is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.” 

I’m zpowerless as a mother when I can’t find the remote to mute my mental monster and he goes:

“You woke up late again today. So many moms do it & you can’t? Wow!”

“So what Sebastian doesn’t sleep, do you see anyone else complaining? You should be able to do this.”

“You have time. Stop making excuses cause you have time.”

“Why can’t you do this?”

“You’re not a good mom.”

“Tell someone? No don’t, you don’t want pity. You want people to feel bad for you? No you don’t! Good.”

“Give up. Can you imagine just laying back not doing a damn thing! How come they can and you can’t!?”

“You can’t do anything. Good luck living the life you want.”

I open my room door and the lights are off, everyone is asleep. I hear it again and it goes “Oh perfect. Another day lost, great job at this mother/wife thing.” 

I peak on the kids and my fiancé and hope to be a better a person for them tomorrow but truth is I can’t promise anything. I’m mentally tapped out but I’m hopeful.

I read a quote the other day – “Being a mother while trying to repair yourself mentally and emotionally is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.” Someone out there feels me.

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Mother of  2

Diagnosed the day after she was born, she was then fitted with a Pavlik Harness which held her hips in a frog-legged position”

There are many things that occur in our children’s lives that makes us feel powerless. Things that leave us with that painful sting in our heart when we realise there is nothing we can do to take it away.

I’m no stranger to this feeling. We are currently treating our daughter for Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH). Diagnosed the day after she was born, she was then fitted with a Pavlik Harness which held her hips in a frog-legged position. She was two weeks old and cried and cried as she was being put in. I cried and cried. I felt awful. I felt like she’d done nothing to deserve it and useless because there was nothing I could do. She just didn’t deserve it, I thought.

I was powerless. I supposed to protect her and I simply couldn’t.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Since then, I’ve tried my best to draw from the strength that powerlessness can give you. It can allow an enormous level of bravery and courage that only your children can draw out of you. I had to choose to be brave, for her, even though I didn’t want to have to because I didn’t want her to have dislocated hips!

So, yes, I am powerless to take the problem away. Despite feeling as useless as I do, I can choose to believe that I can still be enough for her, help her and love her and bring her through this the very best I can. Because I’m her mum.

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 Mother of 3

“Having to stand and watch as that four day old baby had a seizure was and still is to this day the worst thing we have gone through”

As a mum it is your job to protect your baby. You have this idea of what type of mum you are going to be and you also have this idea of what your child is going to be like too. Realising that none of this will go the way you had once thought is devastating. 

The moment I watched my babies tiny body shake and jerk in abnormal ways left me with a huge sense of feeling powerless. Having to stand and watch as that four day old baby had a seizure was and still is to this day the worst thing we have gone through. Waiting for the minutes to tick by whilst watching and waiting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not being able to take away the pain and make it all better kills me every time. 

The Mum Guilt

When we got a diagnosis I knew it was the end of my searching. We had been given a diagnosis which could never be cured. I knew there was nothing I would be able to do to make this go away and that somehow as a parent I had failed to protect my baby from having a “normal” life. Not being able to take away the seizures leaves me powerless as a parent. I hope one day the guilt of him suffering rather than me goes away.

Acceptance

I know deep down it’s not my fault and that he’s just extra special but the feeling of being powerless will never leave me. My son has ARX (Aristaless Related Homeobox), a rare genetic disorder. The ARX gene provides instructions for producing a protein that regulates the activity of other genes. This condition affects Ethan’s development and at the age of 8 is still at the developmental level of a 6 month old in most areas.

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Mother of 2 

“The ER doctor comes back and tells me that the preliminary spinal tap results came back and that baby boy has meningitis”

Baby boy was not being himself and had a low-grade fever. The pediatrician said that because of his age (7.5 weeks), I should take him to the ER. They did so many tests on baby boy. So many needle pricks because his veins were so small. Then the ER doctor comes in and says that because of baby boy’s symptoms, they have to do a spinal tap. I had to step out of the room because I couldn’t watch them do that to him.

The ER doctor comes back and tells me that the preliminary spinal tap results came back and that baby boy has meningitis and that we have to be admitted for 2-3 days. If it is viral, we can go home. If it’s bacterial, we have to stay longer. My mind goes blank. What do you mean he has meningitis?

The NICU nurses come to administer antibiotics (in case it was bacterial) through a series of shots. Great… more needles. He had been through so much already that when they gave him the shots, he only had enough energy to cry for less than 10 seconds and just collapsed in my arms because he was so tired. I felt awful. He was just whimpering in my arms and all I could do is say sorry and hold him close. My poor little guy!

Then it was just a waiting game. Wait to see if anything grows on the blood, urine, and csf cultures. 24-48 hours they said. In the meantime, they will keep a close eye on him. I slept maybe 2 hours the first night…

My emotions throughout this whole ordeal:

Powerless/Helplessness – that’s what it feels to know that your baby is fighting off the infection on his own and you can’t do anything about it.

Guilt – maybe if I washed my hands more than I already did, we wouldn’t be in this situation. What else could I have done so this wouldn’t have happened??

Overwhelming sadness – my baby. My rainbow baby who came to us after 2 miscarriages could potentially be fighting for his life

Finally, on the fourth day, the doctor had great news! No bacterial infection in any of the cultures! Baby boy has viral meningitis and because he was eating well (it’s in our genes ;)), and was producing enough wet diapers, we can go home!

Hope – everyone praying for us and pouring their love on us. Hope that God hears all our cries and that He will get us through this somehow.

Love – over the next three days, so many amazing people – family and friends – came to give us a hand, prayed for us, and cheered us on from near and far.

Relief – my baby is going to be ok 

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 Mother of 1 

The guilt of putting her eye mask on after a feed and putting her down as she cried and needing love and attention”

My first experience of this was before Imogen had even made her entrance. After being in labour since 1am. I went into hospital after contractions and waters braking. The midwives found out Imogen was breech and that was it. A C-Section was decided.

I felt SO powerless knowing that the opportunity of the natural birth I had hoped for was snatched away from me. But not just me, I was so upset that I had taken this away from Immy. Knowing that C-Section babies struggle more with mucus, and Imogen really did. But also that our first skin on skin moments were not at all like what I had dreamt about for the both of us.

Shortly after, Imogen had Jaundice. Seeing her go through phototherapy for near on 24 hours. Not being able to hold and comfort her when she was upset. The guilt of putting her eye mask on after a feed and putting her down as she cried and needing love and attention. I felt like I was letting her down and not being the mummy that she needed.

Luckily for me, I haven’t experienced Post Natal Depression, but like all new mummy’s, I have had my down days. When I have felt exhausted and ‘not good enough’. Meaning I didn’t have the get up and go that I usually would to interact and meet Immys needs. This then made me feel 100 times worse as I would feel like I was ignoring her and being the worst mum in the world.

Empowering each other

Being a mother truly is something no one can prepare you for. I also think it is important to talk about how normal ‘not feeling good enough’ is. I think I get this feeling at least once a day, and that is okay. Through talking and sharing our experiences we realise this is completely normal and we are all good mums in our own ways.

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Mother of 1 

“One thing I do know is that I will always be there for my daughter no matter the situation, even if it’s out of my control.”

When I gave birth to my little girl, everything was going fine. She was a healthy baby. Before we left for the hospital I was having a little bit of trouble with breastfeeding but figured that would happen since this was a new experience. 

The nurses and doctors were just a little concerned with her bilirubin level but sent us home anyway. I noticed within the first week that she was really yellow so we took her to the doctor to check her levels. Once the results came back they told us to go to the emergency room.

This really scared me. Sometimes this happens when you are breastfeeding but I thought in my mind I was giving her enough. It was confirmed that she had jaundice and her bilirubin levels were high. They had to immediately put her under the light therapy. They put a mask on her eyes and put her under that light. I felt so helpless watching her. I wanted to reach out and hold her in my arms but I knew this was what she needed.

Doing what was best

Since she wasn’t getting enough milk they recommended giving her formula and breastmilk between feedings which I had no objections to as long as it helped lower her levels. I have never been so scared in my life. I just wanted it to be over and take her home in my arms. It felt like forever having her under that light wondering if her levels have changed or not. But eventually it did and she got better. I was able to have a lactation consultant help me with breastfeeding and then we were able to take her home. So glad it did not get too severe, which is what I feared.

Embracing vulnerability

I’ve never felt that vulnerable and helpless in a situation like that before and I know plenty of mamas go through it. One thing I do know is that I will always be there for my daughter no matter the situation, even if it’s out of my control.

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Have you ever felt powerless as a mother

To ready more collaborations from powerful women click here

3 Comments

  1. Maria
    September 21, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    P! First of all, I applaud you again on this collaboration. You have a knack for gathering women together and making them feel more empowered by each other’s stories. Second, these stories by these powerful women feeing powerless is gut-wrenching yet awe-inspiring. Keep on going mommas! You ladies are awesome.

  2. Angel
    September 21, 2018 / 2:15 pm

    What an empowering collab once again. It is so hard being a mother and those times of being powerless can be so heartbreaking. We mamas got to stick together during these time. Thank you for putting this post together.

  3. Kelly
    September 28, 2018 / 12:47 pm

    This post is so empowering. You are amazing 🖤

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