An Honest Reflection On The First Year Of Motherhood
That moment you see two lines on a pregnancy test, you know your life is about to change forever. You give up things like alcohol, rare steak and sleeping on your stomach and in exchange you get haemorrhoids, indigestion and morning-noon-and-night sickness.
After a long 40 weeks your much longed for baby arrives - and that's when the real fun begins!
That first year going from 'just-me' to 'mom-me' hit me very hard. I can now FULLY understand why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique. Neither of my kids like sleep, perhaps they are allergic to it! Either way, nothing could have prepared me for missing out on my precious sleep. The advice to "sleep when baby sleeps" is spot on. Seriously - forget housework, and catch up on some much needed rest. And just remember this too shall pass.
The sleep deprivation makes it very hard to look after yourself properly and that may lead to issues with body image. It is entirely too easy to fall into the trap of eating on the go. Of eating easy-to-reach junk food, high in sugar, calories and fat. It really does not matter what your body looks like after having a baby because know this: It will never, ever, ever be the same as it was before. Stretch marks, saggy boobs, mummy tummy - it's all for a good cause in all fairness! Your body changes with each pregnancy; so remember to cut yourself some slack, you will eventually get back on track.
Sadly some friendships tend to shift when your priorities change. As a parent you are now focused on your child, who is, of course, the most interesting conversational topic ever! I think most of us are guilty of talking the ear off of our childless friends about things like the new tooth your baby cut last week or the new nappy rash cream you bought that works wonders. I swore I wouldn't be one of "those" mothers... well, you can guess what happened!
On the topic of changes, I must admit I felt very overwhelmed by the mommy guilt. I was trimming my brand spanking new baby's finger nails very carefully when my nervous hands nipped some delicate baby skin. I think I cried for an hour, and refused to touch his nails for months after. Oh the guilt! We beat ourselves up constantly, and often question whether we are even parenting "properly". It's a learning curve, so my advice is to just do whatever it takes, to get through the day!
The subject of body image, changes, and feeling negative, lead to another hard part of becoming a mother - the judgement! Or at least feeling like you are being judged. Breast, bottle, disposable, cloth, co-sleep, sleep train, gentle, firm - every decision you make as a new mom will most likely be judged by someone holier than thou!
And that brings me to another hard fact. In the new mommy stage, just about anything might set you off; from your significant other "accidentally" deleting your stash of 'One Born Every Minute' (that you had been hoarding to binge-watch post partum,) to something like your mash being lumpy! This is all perfectly normal and is mostly referred to as the baby blues. What's not normal is for this stage to get progressively worse: Which can very easily happen when we are so focused on caring for a newborn.
Common signs of post-partum depression and anxiety, include difficulty bonding with your newborn, becoming very reclusive, insomnia or excessive sleeping, severe mood swings, and OCD tendencies; among others.
Remember, if in doubt, get checked out!
While all of these changes can feel a little overwhelming there is one thing that outshines each and every one and that is: the love!
The amount of love you can feel for another human being. No one can prepare for that, and quite honestly every single negative, whether its ante natal or post-partum, fades in comparison when you look into the eyes of your beautiful child.
I am the person I was destined to be. I was Just-Me for almost 30 years of my life. The idea of becoming a mother scared me for quite a while, but I can honestly say I am more 'me' now that I am 'mom-me' than I have ever been in my whole life.