I’m sure I’m not on my own when I say soon after you have your precious newborn you start to have a bit of an identity crisis. “Is this all that I am now?” “Am I just a mum?” “Who am I now?” are just a few of the thoughts that will run through your sleep deprived brain during the two am night feed and the three am night feed, oh and the four am night feed and so on.
You’re thrust into this whole new world of screaming babies, leaky boobies and pooey nappies and left there feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed. And when you do get the hang of all of those things it’s only because you stumbled through it all and now you’re just on autopilot. Walking around everywhere like a zombie-fied version of your previous self. Who even was your previous self? What was life like before? Can you even remember?
I know that a few months after Ivy was born somewhere between the lovely newborn bubble stage and the screaming reflux stage I completely lost myself. I breastfed Ivy for the first seven months of her life and I struggled with expressing so I was literally glued to my baby. I found it hard to breastfeed out in public because Ivy suffered so terribly with reflux she would scream and work herself up at every feed. I avoided going out anywhere that wasn’t my house, my parents house or Stuart’s parents house.
When I finally made the decision to stop breastfeeding at seven months and Ivy started going to her grandparents once a week I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to find myself again. But instead I didn’t know what to do with myself. What did I even like anymore? I hadn’t a clue what was on normal TV. How did people even dress these days to go out? Going out? What did that feel like? The only plus side was that it was completely acceptable to go outside in your jogging bottoms, not that it made you feel all that glamorous. Oh what was it like to feel glamorous?!
Then I made the decision of not going back to work. I felt incredibly lucky that I was able to stay off with my daughter, it was what I wanted more than anything. But then again I found that this was even more of an excuse to not leave the house unless it was to go somewhere with Ivy for the day. It also made me feel like I was completely inadequate. There were mothers out there who were working full time AND raising their kids. There were mothers out there who had gone back to full time education AND raising their kids. And there I was feeling like I couldn’t do the one thing!
All of these feelings just added to the incredible guilt that I would feel for thinking these things. Did I seem ungrateful? Some couples spend decades trying to have a baby and here I was given a miracle and feeling like I was completely at my wits end. I was failing at being a mother.
It was only once Ivy’s reflux hadn’t reared its ugly head for months, her sleeping routine was pretty good and my beautiful baby girl had turned one (sob!) that I started to feel more like myself (whoever that was). She now stayed over once a week at Stuart’s parents which gave us one night a week to ourselves, we could catch up on precious sleep or just to spend the time together on our own.
I also started this little blog, which at first was just a place for me to write and to vent and to get it all out of my head. But soon I realised there was this big online community of mothers who were going through the exact same things and feeling the exact same way as I did. That’s when I knew I wasn’t just writing this blog for me, I was writing it for all of those other parents who needed to feel like we weren’t on our own.
I soon realised that every mother is different and they will raise their kids differently but at the end of the day we are all in this together. Parenting is bloody hard and I have probably said this at least a dozen times in my blog posts but it is! Whoever said it was a doddle clearly wasn’t doing it right. It’s supposed to be hard work because we’re raising strong, fearless warriors that are going to go out into the big wide world and change it. Or they’re “just” going to be a parent. And that, is okay too.