Testimonial: 'I love my son but I regret becoming a mother'

Faced with the taboo of maternal regret, Astrid Hurault de Ligny decided to speak on an Instagram account and in a book. She agreed to testify about her experience and to talk about her fight to free speech.

  Testimonial: 'J'aime mon fils mais je regrette d'être devenue mère"

When she became a mother, Astrid Hurault de Ligny, like all the women concerned by the subject, did not imagine that she would regret her choice. Yet, that is what happened. After her realization, she decided to create the Instagram account @le_regret_maternal to talk about this misunderstood, taboo, ignored subject. She now has 19,000 followers and is releasing a book, Maternal regret – When the role of mother is too heavy to bear (Éditions Larousse), to talk about his experience and contribute a little more to the liberation of speech. Nearby Women's Journal , she gives an important testimony.

'Having a child was well thought out'

“We had to think about it before” . Here is what we often retort to women who dare to speak of their regret at becoming mothers. This is one of the preconceived ideas that Astrid Hurault de Ligny wants to deconstruct. ' With my husband, we wanted to have a child. It wasn't an accident or a contraception problem, it was a well-considered choice, something we both longed for. When I found out I was pregnant, I was happy, but also reassured that neither my husband nor I had any fertility ' , she recalls. Her pregnancy is going well, her delivery too. It was after that she began to experience difficulties. 'When I was pregnant, I was fine, I lived it well. I had a few small inconveniences, like a little nausea, but nothing serious or really disturbing. Constraints, like not eating certain foods or not drinking alcohol, was no problem for me. As long as I was able to move, walk, continue to do some sport with the permission of my doctor, everything was fine. I was well prepared to give birth, I was well surrounded and everything went well. I had no physical sequelae. It's afterwards, everything that came out of my motherhood, like the reality of a 24-hour baby and the loneliness, that is the source of my regret.' , she tells us.

Realize that you regret being a mother

Astrid Hurault de Ligny is French, but she lives in Quebec. In fact, she may have had a maternity leave one year. During this period, she suffered from a postpartum depression , feels that her anxiety has increased since she became a mother… But she tells us that she did not realize right away that she was affected by maternal regret. Not even when she sees a story posted by Fiona Schmidt on the Instagram account @bordel.de.meres about Orna Donath's book, The regret of being a mother . However, she is surprised to take a screenshot. 'At the time, I was still suffering from a postpartum depression , so I don't think I told myself that was how I felt. There was just something that intrigued me enough to want to keep track.' It is a little later that she understands that she too is concerned. 'I returned to work in September 2019. The recovery did me good, but the Covid-19 arrived and I lost my job. During the confinement, it is this feeling of returning to forced maternity leave that really made me sink. That's when I realized that it was wrong, that I was unhappy. That I loved my son but that I didn't like being a mother. Between being a woman, to be a wife, to be a mother and to be a worker, I had too many things to manage. But I couldn't stop being a woman, I couldn't stop being a wife because I love my husband, I couldn't stop being a mother because my son is here, and I love him. It was my job that I lost, but it was not what I wanted. It was very difficult, the hardest time since I became a mother. I realized that I had made a mistake and I told myself that if I had known, I would not have had a child. It was like getting a big slap in the face. I want to emphasize, this has nothing to do with my son. He's the apple of my eye, I miss him when we're not together. He's clearly not the problem, it's the role of mother that doesn't suit me. I'm the subject of all this, not my son. He didn't ask to be born: he's here because I wanted him, not because he chose him.' , she testifies.

The importance of being well surrounded

When we talk about maternal regret, the first thing most people do is judge. This is why talking about it with those around you can be scary. In the case of Astrid Hurault de Ligny, her relatives knew how to listen to her: 'I don't remember any specific reactions, that's a pretty good sign. I first told my husband about it during the first lockdown, and at that time we were arguing, and that's really got out all alone . I didn't know how to tell him calmly. I don't remember his reaction. I don't think he expected me to say that to him, that's for sure. He fell from the clouds, but he was not virulent. My entourage, my friends, both women and men, were very benevolent' . Although broaching the subject can be scary, she strongly encourages speaking up: 'The first thing is to find someone you trust to talk to, because keeping it to yourself won't help or even make things worse.'

To regret being a mother is not to regret having had a child.

'Poor Child' , 'What a bad mother' , 'She's an unworthy mother' , 'She should be ashamed' , 'She doesn't love her child' … These harsh words, we can read them under each article which speaks of maternal regret, Astrid Hurault de Ligny also sees them on her Instagram account. However, regretting being a mother does not mean regretting that your child exists. . 'It's important to differentiate between regretting being a mother and regretting having children. The second suggests that the children are the problem. For my part, I regrets the role of mother, what it entails to be a mother: the mental load , the constant worries, the responsibilities, making sure the child is well… I would never tell my son that I would have been better off without him. Of course sometimes I crack, but like all parents. In those moments, I remind myself that it's not his fault and that he makes me grow too. Somehow, without my son, I wouldn't have come this far. I wouldn't have done all these steps, I wouldn't have done therapy, I I won't have learned of my mistakes… There are plenty of things I wouldn't have done without him. I grow thanks to him. So, yes, the regret is there and, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't have children, but now that he's here, we can't go back in time, and he brings me a lot ' . Similarly, many mothers, like the author, who are concerned with maternal regret love their child. What they don't like is motherhood. And this difference is very important: 'Surely there are mothers who don't love their child. Others who think they don't love him enough, as much as they had imagined. Besides that, many mothers I talk to will say that they don't want to talk about their regret for fear that their child will be taken away from them. It's a proof of love!'

What Causes Maternal Regret?

When asked about the causes that can be at the root of maternal regret, she explains that there are many and depend on each mother: 'It may be the mental load , everything related to the arrival of a child and the distribution of tasks in the couple. This often comes up in the exchanges I have with mothers. It can be how we lived our own childhood, our relationship with our parents. Some will regret the way they lived their life before having a child. There is also the stress and upheaval of motherhood, etc...'

Talk about it for yourself, but also for others

'When I created my Instagram account, I wanted to see if there were other people who felt the same way. I knew it, deep down. It was therapeutic for me to talk about it, but I also wanted it to help other people and to support each other.' , Astrid Hurault de Ligny tells us. Talking about it was therefore a way of helping herself, but also of helping others. For her, it is important to show the reality of the different ways of experiencing motherhood: ' I would like, and I am not the only one to campaign for that, that we stop making maternity sacred. Of course, for a large number of women, things are going well and the mothers are fulfilled. But there are also many people for whom it is much harder than you think. We have to stop saying that it's only happiness: there are good times, but there are also difficult times, especially in post-partum . No one can know what it is without having experienced it. We can talk about it, it's impossible to know how each one will live it. We must show that maternal regret exists, that we must listen to women who have things to say on the subject instead of judging them. Each experience is unique, each feeling is unique. It's easy to say 'you had to think about it before', it's easy to judge. But we do not know that everyone lives. We have the right not to understand, to be surprised, but we must not point fingers and speak for others. We have to find out.' As she repeats so often on her Instagram account and in her book, it must also be emphasized that maternal regret is not a choice: it is a feeling. Women don't wake up one morning thinking they're going to regret being mothers. On the contrary, having this feeling often leads to great helplessness, sadness, guilt and loneliness. This is why it is particularly important to listen to mothers and support them.

“I want to tell mothers who feel maternal regret that they are not alone”

When asked what she would like to say to women who regret being mothers, Astrid Hurault de Ligny responds immediately: “I would like to tell them that they are not alone. This is very important, and that is why I dedicated the book at the beginning of the book that it was addressed to all those who are concerned. They shouldn't hesitate to come and talk to me if they feel the need and don't know who to turn to. They can also contact the Maman Blues association, which will listen to them and recommend a benevolent therapist in their region. I advise them to read my book, also because it can help them, with my testimony and the advice of a perinatal psychologist. I have listed resources at the end that can support them. If they can consult, I recommend that they do so because, without my therapist, I don't know where I would be today. It's really very important not to keep it to yourself and to feel that there is a professional listening. If today I am able not to feel guilty for feeling this, it is thanks to therapy, Instagram account, writing the book, because my son is growing up, I have more self-confidence and because I have the support of my husband. Having the support of loved ones helps a lot. Being able to talk about it around you allows you not to ruminate, which only maintains discomfort and guilt.

Source journaldesfemmes.fr