Things have gone a bit quiet on my blog for the past 6 months. You could say that I’ve been quite busy getting into the swing of things of being a new parent. Kaleya was born in April and wow – what a ride it has been since! For me, motherhood so far has been a challenging yet extremely rewarding journey and overall, it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I thought I’d compile a few thoughts on things that you might not necessarily read about as often. These are just my experiences and they might be totally different for everyone else, but I think it is important to be honest about what it really feels like, and not to sugarcoat everything all the time. If anything, this post is supposed to reassure new mums and mum-to-be’s that being imperfect is perfectly normal!
Your emotions go haywire.
I would say I’m a very calm and content person. I usually respond fine to change and I can deal with all sorts of challenges being thrown at me. For some reason, this is a completely different story when it comes to motherhood. I liked to blame my hormones because sometimes I was lost for explanations as to why I was walking around crying, when nothing really bad had happened. But the tiniest little thing going wrong would make me doubt my capabilities as a mother.
When Kaleya was in tears and very upset, I often found myself getting just as worked up as her. Am I doing something wrong? How can I not work out what my daughter needs right now? Luckily, this has changed a lot over the last few months. But yes, sometimes you cry. Like, a lot.
It’s a job.
It’s for a good reason that you can earn a living as a nanny. But as a mother you have the added pressure and emotional challenge of looking after your very own child. For the last 6 months I’ve been what they call a ‘stay-at-home-mum’. I can’t deny that I used to think that it can’t be that hard and that you should have plenty of time on your hands. After all, babies sleep for most of the day, right? Well, I was wrong. If you’re lucky and they fall asleep somewhere that isn’t on you (which Kaleya refused to do for the first 2 months of her life), then you’ll probably go a hundred miles an hour to get everything done that needs your attention. The washing machine runs daily, the kitchen is a complete mess all the time and my lounge is a minefield of baby toys, wipes and clothes that needs tidying all the time. Once you’ve started with your chores chances are that your baby wakes up again and you end up spending half an hour resettling her rather than washing the dishes. So in the little time that you actually have, you start prioritising everything. I have to say that it did get easier once the newborn phase was over.
You gotta do what you gotta do.
When you’re a new parent, you probably feel like there’s a million rules and you have to follow all of them. Anything else would mean you’re knowingly putting your little one at risk, and that’s obviously the last thing you want to do. Well, it’s often easier said than done. The thing is, whatever you do has to work for your baby AND you.
One of my friends told me that her 3 week old baby would only sleep on her tummy and she let her (I’m not sure about you, but that’s a big NO in Australia). Another friend had to let her baby sleep in a swing 24/7 because it was the only place where she’d stay asleep. I built Kaleya a little bumper for her cot because she didn’t want to sleep in an open space. When I told the nurse (half afraid and half proud, because it was actually doing the trick) she gave me a disapproving look and I found myself trying hard to justify what I was doing. The thing is, you’ll need to make decisions along the way and you might not always feel comfortable with all of them because they might be wrong in theory, however if it’s the only thing that seems to work in practice, then you might need to bite the bullet.
Breastfeeding nearly broke me.
You would think that something so natural would come, well, naturally to you, right? Unfortunately that only applies to a minority of new mums. In fact, I have probably never found it so difficult to learn a new skill. It’s been a tough journey with ups and downs from the beginning and there were days when I felt like a complete failure, not succeeding in something that I thought should be so simple. I actually felt like my body was letting me down, which is heartbreaking really if you consider that my body had just gifted us with a healthy little human being. You’d be surprised though how many mums actually feel the same way. If you’re planning to breastfeed, I think it’s crucial to approach it with an open mind and not to expect anything to ‘just work’. As with so many things in parenthood, most of the time things are very different to what you thought they would be.
Baby blues is a thing.
3-4 days after your baby is born, a lot of things are happening to your body. Your adrenalin levels come down, some of your pregnancy hormones have left your body and it’s likely that you haven’t slept a whole lot for the last few days. Now you’re basically about to hit a wall. I remember the midwife coming to our house on day 3 and trying to mentally prepare me for a potentially challenging day tomorrow. I thought: What is she on about? I felt great! However, I slept for less than 10 hours in total over the last 72 hour period and it was just a matter of time before my body would let me pay for it. And it did. I basically didn’t leave the bed the next day and was bawling my eyes out because of – what felt like – no reason. It did pass quickly, but it threw me for a little while.
Comparing your baby to others.
Guilty as charged 🤷♀️. You know how they say every baby is different? I think many parents are trying to acknowledge that, but you have to keep reminding yourself in order to actually believe it. I can’t even tell how many times I compared Kaleya to other babies her age. Whether I do this consciously or not, I constantly wonder if she’s doing ok. Other babies might be sleeping through the night before yours does. They might gain weight faster. They might be rolling over first. The thing is, you have to celebrate your own individual milestones and if you’re ever worried, chat to your doctor instead of wracking your brains for no reason.
The ever-changing body.
If you read my blog before, you might know that I exercised quite rigorously throughout pregnancy to get all the benefits that come with it. At 32 weeks pregnant I developed quite severe pubic pain, which is why the remainder of my pregnancy was rather quiet when it comes to exercise. I was desperate to get back into it after Kaleya was born, but once the pubic pain was gone, I suddenly had other issues like horrible joint pain in my arms and sore knees. It was hard to believe that this might all be normal because I never had any pain or discomfort before.
I have to admit that I don’t always feel great in my own skin these days as a lot has changed after growing a baby. I’ll be forever grateful for what my body has done for me and I get annoyed with myself for even having these thoughts, but sometimes you can’t help how you feel. The most important thing is to accept that it takes a good while for everything to go back to normal (if ever!); something that took your body 9 months to develop will most likely leave some marks – be it visible or not – after giving birth.
And lastly: Stock up on dry shampoo, because you’ll need it.