When I became a mother last year I felt like I'd been granted access to a universal club. A club where stories of sleepless nights, tear-inducing frustration and cracked nipples were traded and sighs of relief and reassurance were breathed.
At my second mother's group meeting my voice wavered as I shared my devastation over my milk supply drying up suddenly. My story was met with words of solidarity from the semi-circle of baby-jiggling women who'd experienced the same challenge. I felt myself exhale a little.
It's simple really, the often shocking arrival of a baby is made easier to navigate with the knowledge that other mums are dealing with the same smorgasbord of issues.
But where does that leave women, unlike me, whose experience of motherhood has been almost entirely positive? Can those who don't have breastfeeding problems and have a settled, sleeping baby voice it freely?
One mother who's struggled with this exact issue is Jessica, 34, who discovered that sharing her good parenting moments could unintentionally upset other mums.
"I had lunch with some mum friends and one of them, who's particularly sleep deprived, asked me how my daughter was sleeping. I was honest and said she'd been sleeping through the night for months and the conversation kind of stopped there. I made a mental note not to talk about how well my baby was sleeping again," she explains.
Hayley, 27, a mother of twin boys, has felt this same fear of coming across as "bragging", and of needing to downplay any experiences that are too positive.
"From when my boys were about six weeks old onwards I found things quite easy and I discovered I had to withhold from sharing all the positive and happy experiences with my mother's group as so many of them were finding it tough," she says.
"Even my negatives - like having an oversupply of breast milk - felt too positive to share when others were struggling with having no milk at all."
The narrative of the struggling mother is one that's as ubiquitous as a Bonds Wondersuit on a newborn. Type "motherhood is" into Google and "hard" and "lonely" are the first results to spring up. There are countless articles on the topic that range from "Surviving the hard times - when being a mum is too difficult", to "The bittersweet loneliness of motherhood".
Sharing honest stories about the challenges of raising children has earned bloggers like Constance Hall and Sophie Cachia millions of grateful followers between them (Hall has over 1.3 million followers across Facebook and Instagram, while Cachia has over 379,000).
Theirs are the stories that can help many mothers by alleviating shame around those first sleep-deprived, head-spinning months, and we definitely need to hear them. In Australia, almost one in seven women will experience depression in the first year after giving birth, with BeyondBlue finding that anxiety is likely to be just as common. The brutality of birth, the enormous lifestyle change, hormonal shifts and sleep deprivation that goes hand-in-hand with a new baby pose a serious threat to a mother's mental health.
But while this aspect of motherhood should never be taken lightly, for most, in amongst the challenging periods are moments of heart-bursting happiness, too. So why is it so much rarer to see overwhelmingly positive stories of motherhood being shared?
According to psychologist Jennifer Garth, it's much easier for people to bond over tougher shared experiences.
"Research shows that the cohesion of a group is often driven by difficult circumstances, and in this case, the tribe forms and bonds over the difficulties of motherhood," she explains.
"A shared difficulty, and surviving that difficulty, is what brings humans of all walks of life together and helps us get through. Whether we're facing a horrible boss, the corporate jungle, an emergency or the trials of motherhood."
University of Melbourne's Dr Carla Pascoe, who is currently researching new motherhood in Australia from the mid-twentieth century to today, says that comparing mothering progress allows women to gauge how they're faring in unchartered territory.
"Mothers have said to me that when they've felt like they're failing, talking to other women in a similar situation reassures them that it's ok. It's the only yardstick that new mothers can often get of how well they're doing," Dr Pascoe explains.
It's this direct comparison that makes new mothers who are having a good experience reluctant to share. They want to avoid giving the impression that they think they are better mothers.
Perhaps some of this feeling is aided by the fact that mothers' groups are initially set up as a support resource for new mums. After giving birth, women are generally contacted by the hospital or a community nurse who provides them with the details of their local group. It's a forum of sorts where women with babies of the same age meet and share their concerns with a health professional. It's here that women who are finding motherhood a breeze can feel the first pangs of awkwardness creep in.
According to Garth, it's key for mothers who might feel anguish about another mother's seemingly easy path to put things in perspective.
"It's important to remember that there's no such thing as perfect parenting or the perfect baby, it's more how you're managing the situation," explains Garth.
"Mothers need to catch their negative inner dialogue and remind themselves that, for example, if your baby's not sleeping well, it's temporary and it's a not a reflection on you as a mother."
Comparing notes from the trenches of parenting might be a language most mums are fluent in, but uplifting stories about motherhood can sometimes be exactly what a struggling mother needs to get through the day.
"When my baby was two weeks old and I was tired, I asked a friend when her baby started sleeping through the night. She told me it was eight weeks. It was almost embarrassing for her to admit it. But why? This actually helped me get through – even if my baby didn't do it, having a realistic time frame to reach made me feel so much better," says Eliza, 30.
Voicing our motherhood highlights can open up an avenue for sharing valuable learnings with each other. Even if, like in my instance, the milk-boosting recipes I was handed from women in my mothers' group didn't work in the end.