I realise that having a baby does not make a baby expert, but I find myself magnetically drawn to any baby story and all fellow mums in my new baby bliss. It is half an attempt to understand what is happening and if it is all “normal” and the other half some kind of immense need to know that other people have gone through and are experiencing the same thing. With this in mind, the urge to write about my first three months as a mum has been bubbling away.
I have discovered a new-found respect for anyone with a child, as well as a new appreciation for my own mother and father and what they went through to raise three children. There is so much information and support while you are pregnant and there is time to learn. With six months up your sleeve (once you find out, settle on the reality and get over the morning sickness, hopefully) to research and chat to others expecting or with children. I felt that there was a real gap the first week I was home with baby in hand.
For some weeks, I felt a great rage towards all those women I had spoken to who had babies. Why didn’t they warn me? Explain how hard labour really is so that I may be better prepared mentally and physically. I remember demanding of my own Mum-why didn’t you tell me? She smiled, “you forget”. I have yet to forget.
I have determined now that there is no real way to possibly explain such an experience. To truly know one must go through it themselves. This was the most excruciating, frightening, grounding and rewarding thing I have ever been through and it has taken three months for me to look back and realise that I would not change a thing.
It has also taken me three months to find my breath and myself again. Although not fully re-discovered, I am starting to see glimpses of my pre-labour self. Not that I minded being completely besotted and enthralled with this new little life and not noticing the rest of the world for a while. It is now still a magical mix of these moments and then a rare hour or even two where I think, “What did I used to do with myself?”.
For the first time, with Callie 17 weeks old, I went off to work and forgot I had a baby. What an odd feeling it was when Sam walked in the door at work with her and I thought, “Oh, my baby”. Rather than beat myself up about it (easy to do and I’m always willing as a new Mum), I instead decided that this was entirely healthy. Now, sometimes when she sleeps I work or write and am present with myself again. I think it makes me a better Mum having had some time to myself and I can appreciate every smile she has for me when I’m with her.
There is no denying it, the first three months are hard. It is constant and there is so much uncertainty, no matter how sure you were five minutes ago. Lots of google-ing and online forums (not always helpful) and way too many tears.
There are also loads of firsts and more joy than I knew could exist inside of me. I have felt sad, confused, distraught, elated, blessed and proud all before breakfast (and did I mention the tears?).
I know my life will never be that same and I wouldn’t want it to be. These last three months have been so much more than I ever could have expected. One thing having a baby does is put many things into perspective.
The important things and people in life make themselves very clear and all the rest fall away. Life is simpler in a more complex way. Life is very, very good.