So September marked Ellie’s ninth (!!) month outside of the womb! I cannot believe how fast these months are going in and I cannot fathom how big she is getting week to week.
It only seems like yesterday I was walking the legs off myself and trying everything in power to put myself into labour to meet the apple of my eye.
The past 9 months have been mental to say the least, and I have learnt more lessons about myself during this time than I have in a lifetime. For starters, I’ve learnt to trust my instincts more and to focus more of my energy into being ‘present’ in the moment. I’ve learnt to not care what others think about me or the way I ‘parent’. I have realised that I am stronger both mentally and physically than I ever gave myself credit for; and that I am also more resilient to things that used to crush me. Most importantly though……… I have learnt that I am well able for motherhood which is in stark contrast to this time last year when the thoughts of owning a human scared the s**t outta me!
I wanted to do a quick blog post and give myself (and of course anyone who reads this) a few tips if I could go back in time to the ‘brand new’ Mammy version of myself.
Some (of course) are meant in jest, but majority were learned the hard way (through the tears and snots) that those first few weeks can bring……….
- Learn how to say ‘no’. I spent the first few weeks of Ellie’s life people pleasing (which I am a sucker for!) For example …….. I often said yes to either visiting or having visitors come over to see Ellie on the days that I was mentally fragile . It was me who needed looking after myself instead of hosting guests. I totally understand that a new baby brings so much excitement and joy to family, friends, neighbours , the old lady up the road etc etc………and it is so lovely having everyone wanting to share in your new arrival. However unless you’ve had a newborn yourself, many don’t realise how intrusive it can be to pop over (unannounced for some!) in the midst of feeling like your lady parts are battered beyond repair …..that your boobs are killing you from engorgement….. and that for the 30 min duration of their visit YOU could have planned to have your long awaited shower, eat something, have some ‘me’ time , or most importantly….. be sleeping!! Majority of the time I was more than happy to see visitors, but for those particularly difficult days I should have put my big girl pants on and have been honest and asked to rearrange a visit for another day (as I always ended up in floods of tears afterwards after trying to hold it all together!)
- Be honest with people! I plastered a smile on my face and said that everything was ‘Hunkey Dorey’ throughout the period when Ellie was suffering very badly with her reflux. Interntally I felt like I was losing my mind. Between sleep deprivation and the constant ear piercing crying, I often met Ben in the hall of the house when he came home from work ready to hand over Ellie and run! Those days I really would have benefited from more support (which sounds like I am contradicting myself from point number 1….. but the period of reflux only started when she was about 8 weeks old and not during ‘new born….only out of the hospital stage’ if ya get me??
- Politely nod and smile when people tell you ‘she must be starrrrving’. There is nothing more soul destroying than those words when you are literally killing yourself to establish breastfeeding. I got so upset and doubted my ability to feed Ellie when this was said to me (numerous times, by numerous people!!). I should have trusted myself more and not let it eat away at me and make me so upset. For anyone around a new mother who is breastfeeding, my advice is to pick your words carefully, they could either make or break a breastfeeding journey. I am so happy I persevered, but it was tough and I wish I just trusted myself and my body more.
- Don’t panic about getting back to the gym so quickly! I had it in my head that 8 weeks was the goal to get back to working out. I pulled that figure out of thin air and didn’t account for severe sleep deprivation, an episiotomy, and breastfeeding. Looking back, I went back way too soon and I put far too much pressure on myself to get myself ‘back to normal’. It was unrealistic…. and I have now come to realise that there is far more to life than fitting back into a certain pair of jeans post baby. Your new little bundle couldn’t give a hoot what size jeans Mammy fits into, so why make that a priority?? I should have given myself at least 10-12 weeks as I dived right back in too soon and made myself even more exhausted and stressed out trying to fit in workouts. I use the gym mostly as an outlet for my mental health. Looking back, I was caught between feeling the baby blues coming on, and knowing that exercise always lifts my mood. In hindsight, I should have stuck with daily walks and light exercise for a few more weeks until my body more healed.
- Keep a notebook to remind yourself of who got you presents and cards. I didn’t get around to writing ‘Thank You’ cards until Ellie was about 2-3 months old (hey…. I was busy!) and believe you me….. I have probably offended so many people that I couldn’t remember who gave what. You will 100% forget!! There are still presents that I have no idea where they came from (which is very embarrassing on my part!)
- Stop fretting about going back to work! Cross the bridge when it comes and enjoy your maternity leave to the full. From the day I finished my last shift before maternity leave, I seemed to be continually counting the weeks down that I had left of freedom. I was panicking about going back to work before I even finished ….. absolutely ridiculous and waaaaay too soon for it to have even crossed my mind. It can be easier said than done, but try and refocus your thoughts when work enters your noggin.
- Ask someone to take pictures of your new little family as the months pass. I can count on one hand how many pictures there are of Ellie myself and Ben. There are hundreds of either Ben and Ellie or myself and Ellie …..but probably about 4-5 of the three of us together! I wish we had taken more.
- Book an appointment to get your hair or nails done within the first two weeks. I remember feeling like death when Ellie was probably about 10 days old. The bags under my eyes even had bags! I felt like I was lost in a world of nappies, baby grows and puke. It was my Mam who suggested I got my hair done as I never got around to getting it cut before she was born. I felt really apprehensive about leaving Ellie (which was silly looking back now!) but I did, and it was a much needed hour of switching off and feeling like ‘me’ again. Something so simple can really lift your mood during those first few days.
- Have a duvet day! I would have loved to have spent a few of the new born days in a little cocoon with Ellie and Ben. We got the odd morning or afternoon to chill out as a new family and be lazy to hide away from the outside world and it was utter bliss.
- Lastly……..turn the phone off and be present! I cannot stress how quick the time flies in with a new baby. We live in a world now where people can contact us in many forms, and we are often consumed with checking inboxes, flicking through social media profiles and sending messages ourselves. I consciously had to remind myself to put the phone away many times. It is so important to take time to be present, take time to stare at your baby from their head to their toes. Get lost in their world. Observe the rise and fall of their little breaths, smell their unique scent, take note of the little capillaries under their soft new born skin, and stroke their fluffy hair. To this day I love nothing more than lying on the bed with Ellie after her bath when she is just in a nappy. I often feed her and stare at her in awe that someone so perfect is mine. Relish this time, they grow so quickly!
The initial days can seem long and tiring, and you may find yourself wishing some days away. Try to embrace it all……. because 9 months down the road when you’re back to work and trying to juggle it all you will be looking back and feeling like you blinked the time away.