What can I say about 2017? In all honesty it has been the biggest roller coaster year of my life. It is the year I learnt a different kind of love, found a new purpose, and also lost a part of myself.
Giving birth to a child is the single hardest thing any woman will do in her life. Undoubtedly it does something to you on the inside and you walk out of that hospital a completely different woman. I can tell you now that having a child has changed me. I put my son first above all else, including my husband and myself. It’s about the baby and the baby alone. And 11 months into this phenomenal journey of motherhood I have learnt a few things, and also observed a few things. Now keep in mind, what I am sharing with you is my personal experience, for every one of us mums this story will read differently and your journey undoubtedly will vary to mine. I just have this burning desire to share my side of the story and hope that you reading this find it amusing but also relatable to some extent. So, here’s what I’ve found so far:
1) EVERYONE has an opinion. And boy do I mean everyone! Never before in my life have I had so many people comment and bluntly tell me how things should be done. And I’m talking about opinions you didn’t ask for. From parents to in-laws, to friends who don’t even have children! Heck even the postman will find it in him to tell you how to be a mother or how a child should be raised. From how to feed them, how to teach them to how they should sleep or develop, everyone will have their opinion and gladly give it to you.
2) You can never be prepared for the kind of mother you will be. You know that conversation you have with your friends late at night where you idealise yourselves as parents in the distant future? Where you are the perfect mom with the well kept house, a baby that sleeps for 10 hours and you maintain a certain lifestyle? The one where you are on top of everything and nothing can rock your boat? Ya that conversation… how’s that going? I’ll tell you how mine is going, my boat sunk! I learnt that once baby is here and in your arms it is all back to square one. So, lets not set ourselves up for disappointment ladies, there is no perfect way to be a mom, there is just you and how YOU choose to be with YOUR baby.
3) There is nothing wrong with putting your baby first. The number of women who immediately say “My career and life is equally important to me right now” – really? This is something I, on a personal level, cannot relate to. This first year of your child’s life will never come back. The little warm cuddles of a tiny baby, the first time they begin to smile, when they begin to laugh and get their little personalities, the eating and crawling and teeth and walking…you don’t get it back. So please don’t be in a hurry…savour every moment of it, bask in its cuteness and embrace the warm and fuzzy bubble of motherhood.
4) Baby groups are amazing! Those first 9 months can be hard! Especially once your little one hits 4 months and wants to start doing stuff. Not only does this get you out of the house, but it’s great bonding between you and your baby. I did a lot with my son in his first 7 months. From baby massage, baby yoga, baby art class, music class with singing and dancing to swimming! It kept us nice and busy. You also meet some amazing moms and dads who are going through exactly what you are, and that kind of support keeps you sane and gives you the will power to keep going.
5) This is the biggest point, and something I will talk more about in another blog post. Childbirth is a B****. My biggest advice, just go with the flow. Don’t be that know it all woman and set yourself up for major disappointment. Let the professionals do what they need to in order to keep you and your baby safe. That’s not to say don’t have a plan. Have a plan, birth plans are a great way to think things through. Mine was short but changed quickly due to circumstance and my birth story is something I would like to share with you soon.
6) You do not have to be perfect on day 1. Like I said earlier, forget the house and all else, just focus on you and your baby. You’ve been through enough bringing them into this world, so take the time to just recover and be with your baby.
7) People will pass judgement. Oh boy do they! Is he not sleeping? Oh dear… he is still in your room? Hmmm… Oh he doesn’t eat himself? Tut tut! My response to all of this… F OFF! Just drown out the noise – you are doing an amazing job and doing your best and that is all that matters.
For the most part I love being a mom. Yes I said most part, and I know you will feel the same. Of course I have days where I feel great, but I also have my down days where I feel depressed sometimes and wish I could undo it all. It’s natural to feel this way. It is an extremely difficult journey, and nothing prepares you for it. And when you are in a position like me where you do 90% of the parenting because your husband works crazy hours with his job, the judgements and comments are harder to swallow and staying positive seems impossible sometimes. I found myself moving away from crowds and becoming closer with my parents. They are my biggest supporters and always manage to lift my spirits. I still have my tiny fist of friends and my 3 amazing new mommy friends from our antenatal classes who keep me staying positive and reassure me that I am doing a good job with my little one. And lets face it, every new mom out there needs to be reminded that they are doing amazing… agree?
Now, with 3 weeks left of my maternity leave, I find myself feeling nervous and terrified at the thought of not seeing my son for 3 days a week while I’m at work. Crazy right? As much as I am excited to have those few hours a day away from being on mommy duty, I am also sad that he is at that point of his journey of not needing mommy 24 hours a day. This is why I say, savour every moment. My boy will be 1 next month and if you had asked me last February if I thought this point would come…I would have said never. And here it is, my little baby is a crawling babbling toddler ready for his first steps into the system we call life.