I have been meaning to write a short blog post over the past few weeks to give an update on how I have settled into Motherhood, now that I’m already half a year into the best role of my life. This time six months ago Ellie was coming up to being two weeks old, and I hadn’t a CLUE what was ahead of me!
Before she was born, I’d often hear ”Oh you’ll be grand when you have a baby, sure you’re a Midwife!”……which was true to some extent, as in, I was lucky I wasn’t nervous around a new born and was well used to handling them…. but nothing could have prepared me for those first couple of months. Looking back now, it all seems like I just blinked the days away that I thought would never end; they are all but a memory now. The new born period challenges you in ways you can never imagine. I am sure there are women out there that ”just get on with it”, but I certainly struggled emotionally, physically and mentally.
Five months ago I remember sitting in my bed and writing a blog post about something not feeling right. I was very aware of how lucky I was, I had just given birth to a beautiful baby, I had just moved into our new house, and I had HEAPS of support …..I am happy I had enough clarity in my head to keep reminding myself that; but it didn’t make a huge difference, I just felt SO internally sad!
I felt so helpless and lost. Even re-reading that blog post now, I can remember typing up the post with tears streaming down my cheeks and feeling like what I was writing was totally nonsensical; but I had to just GET IT OUT! Looking back now, I was certainly suffering with baby blues, but I did the right thing…..and I talked! Perhaps some people think it’s odd to be so open about these things, but I am a ‘sharer’ and if even one new mother reads this post and gets comfort that those darker days do end; then my job is done!
Those early days, you are exhausted beyond measure (and I used to think working weeks of nightshifts would have had me well prepared…NOT!!). You constantly feel like you have a foggy head, you don’t know what day of the week it is, and you can barely get a minute to pee…… but the best part of all is……..there’s no break in sight.
Before I make my next point, we are all equally as tired as new mothers….. regardless if you are breast or bottle feeding, but I am writing this from my own experience; so I don’t intend to offend anyone who cannot relate to my next few points.
Don’t get me wrong, I was lucky in that breastfeeding was never sore for me, and I thankfully never suffered from Mastitis, or cracked nipples or a poor latch……but it was very feckin’ difficult! I could have been done for murder some nights when I’d be waking up for the fourth time to feed Ellie and Ben would be sleeping soundly in ‘the land of nod’ beside me. That was my choice though, I wanted to feed her myself, and although I always had the option to pump ……it just felt like an extra job I didn’t have the energy to do before going to bed. The nights I tried to let Ben give her a bottle of expressed milk she still wouldn’t nod off without a breastfeed. I just felt trapped! I felt like the solution to settling her ALL the time, came down to me and my marvellous boobs! It was exhausting and overwhelming at points.
Then the joys of ‘Silent Reflux’ came to pass. I could only describe those few weeks as a living nightmare! It was like clock work…..Ellie would projectile vomit from morning to night, and EVERY evening from 7-9pm….she SCREAMED in pain. This wasn’t a normal cry, this was a pitch that only cats could respond to. It was a piercing cry, that often left me crying in unison with her. It was only for Ben’s aunt who told me to persevere with getting her treated for it properly. I didn’t have the confidence in myself to keep going back to the doctor, I just thought I was a crap mother! But eventually after a few visits to the GP, changing doses reflux meds, and eliminating some things from my diet, I haven’t looked back. If Elaine is reading this……I can never thank you enough for your support during those days!
Fast forward to today. Six months in of owning my own human….being a mother…. and no longer just being ‘me’. I honestly could not be happier. The past six months has taught me my own strengths. I am no longer a shy girl; but a confident woman. I am Ellie’s voice in this world until she is big enough to stand up for herself, so there is no better time to have found my assertive side! I no longer fret about the small stuff, and I most certainly do not care what others think of me. I used to worry so much in the early days if I was ‘doing the right thing’ and what other people thought about my choices. I now trust my instincts and my capabilities.
Having a baby has taught me who my real friends are, and how lucky I am that they want to be involved in Ellie’s life. It has also taught me who aren’t my real friends, which may be harsh, but you soon realise who drops you once you come with a baby in tow. I have become so aware of how blessed I am to have such a supportive family (on both sides). During those tougher weeks I had SO much help from Ben, my own parents, sister, Ben’s parents, his aunts, and of course my gal pals.
Becoming parents puts a strain on your relationship with your significant other, and if anyone denies that…they’re lying! The whole dynamic of a relationship changes when you become parents. You’re no longer just partners, but the Mother and Father of this precious baby. The new responsibilities you have towards one other and your baby takes time to adjust to. Sleep deprivation can aggravate simple disagreements, and (particularly for me!) breastfeeding can make you resent the freedom your partner has. Communication is the BIGGEST important thing to maintain in a relationship when you become parents, and thankfully those initial creases have been ironed out with regular ‘heart to hearts’ (and crying….again….only applies to me!). I couldn’t be more in love with Ben, and seeing him with Ellie melts me every single day. He is an amazing father and has been my backbone on the days I really felt useless and that I couldn’t do it.
I am hoping that my year update on being a Mother is as positive as this post is. Half a year ago, I felt like I was ‘winging’ it and that I didn’t really know what I was doing. Each day brought new challenges and worries; today I feel so settled. I am so proud of myself, I have surpassed all goals I initially set out for breastfeeding, and I am now hoping to make it to a year. I have managed to get back into my fitness which I never thought was possible when she was first born. I have challenged fears that I have had for years, because I needed to get over them for Ellie’s sake.
If you are reading this in your final few months or weeks of pregnancy, or you are a new mother…..remind yourself that the challenges you will face are temporary. What you struggle with this week, will be second nature next month. The days may seem long and lonely sometimes, but the months and years go in quickly.
It is a privileged position to be in to have a baby so remember to enjoy them! Have the duvet days, be selfish with your time together, and embrace the days you feel like you can’t get your s**t together. You eventually will!