motherhood - life but not as you know it
If you have great friends with kids you may have heard them state how wonderful motherhood is and how they would not change anything for the world.
A baby does indeed bring great joy and happiness to parents, grandparents, siblings etc however there is a fundamental change which takes place and no book, dvd, lecture, birthing class or even your best friends wise counsel can prepare you for it.
This fundamental change is nothing to do with the cupboard full of nappies, figuring out why your baby is crying, learning how to get your baby to sleep, taking time off from work to have your baby. None of this.
The change I refer to is the change you have to go through, whether your baby is the happiest, most content baby ever or whether your baby cries all night, won't feed and leaves you in a state of bewilderment at every turn.
What I want to write about is not the easiest topic for any mother to discuss and it is for this reason I have had to split this hub into parts.
Personally I have had three children and I adore them all. They are the best things to have happened to me and I love watching them grow and develop every day. Regardless of how much you love your child, the change you go through, the adaption to this new life you have to make is one of the most challenging ones you are ever likely to face into.
No high paid CEO job or high pressured working environment can prepare you for life after childbirth. Working under stressful deadlines or managing a large team of people fraught with personnel issues still is no comparison. Also can I add here having a pet as a pre cursor to assessing how you might cope as a mother is a load of baloney, a myth and should be ignored.
The change which happens takes place on a number of levels.
Initially you do not really notice the emergence of the change as you are so preoccupied and so tired. As you and your baby forge your close bond you still do not really appreciate the impact on your life after birth. The various development stages emerge and you watch with joy and wonderment as this little person you gave birth to starts to develop their own little personality.
The initial flicker of the change starts and has no relevance to your interaction with your baby.
As your husband/partner heads back to work after some time off following the birth, his routine returns to some sense of normality with work and other activities all begin to re-emerge in his life. Although it will never be admitted longer term there is probably a sense of relief for fathers who look in on the domestic situation they leave behind knowing their release and change of scenery comes in the form of their workplace or hobbies. This is by no means a dig at fathers, absolutely not. A "great" father is a fantastic role in the family unit however I know as a mother the difference between getting back to work following the initial honeymoon (albeit sleep deprived) following the birth of your first child and having to remain at home where the reality of your new life really hits home. When I say "hits home" I am understating the impact on the mother. It hits you like a thunderbolt when you realise the change has already happened.
I recall long tiring days in my pyjamas as I physically could not find a second to get washed and dressed. Not only is remaining in your PJ's a depressing state when you really want to be fresh and dressed it is also a reminder of your inability to do the most basic action of the morning. However this inability is only caused by baby needs coming first, and well before those of ther mother.
Although sleep deprivation is clearly mentioned in all the pregnancy books the words are just that - words. An author telling you to sleep when the baby sleeps is so right, however there is little guidance given about how tired you will look and feel, regardless of the number of naps you manage to squeeze into the day (which will not be a lot). I used to glance at my reflection in the mirror and often wonder who this pale, tired, dull skinned and old, sad looking woman was. Where had the real me disappeared to? Who had taken her? Please bring her back immediately.
Looking back this was the earliest stage of the change and, while expected, the impact of the exhaustion on my very being, my mindset, my emotions and my relationships was momentous and really quite debilitating at times.
While I love every inch of my children, I felt as if I was in this world where (in the early months) the days were so long and often felt very quiet and empty. Interaction with a baby is wonderful and as they start to respond to you it is very rewarding, however this is not a 24/7 activity as life and households still need to be kept going and the continually rising laundry pile never ever felt like a rewarding experience for me, all those years ago as a new mum.
This hub really serves to put it out there to all soon to be and very new parents and those expecting their second or third child, who may have forgotten, your next 12 months and beyond will be a true blend of emotions and your coping levels will adapt as you grow as a parent with your new baby.
Please do not feel you are alone on the days where you have only had interaction with a new born or very young baby and you are feeling exhausted, fed up and wondering what on earth you did with your time before junior arrived. All my children were born in winter months and dark mornings, awful weather and dark evenings were factors which made me feel very alone and as I called it "stuck in treacle". I rarely managed to get out for walks and often found it sad as 'Lunar' (the moon character) on 'Bear and the Big Blue House' bid me his fond farewell for another 24 hours after they all sang the good bye song. (sniff sniff!)
Ridiculous, perhaps, to write the last sentence, however your state of mind when at home, alone, with a baby is an unexpected state and one which women rarely experience until motherhood beholds itself upon us.
We spend most of out teenage and adult life interacting with like minded and similar aged friends or family therefore with no workplace interaction and less family interaction during the working week there is the opportunity for such feelings of loneliness to emerge. While there is always something to do it usually entails running about like a headless chicken, doing laundry, making up milk feeds, changing nappies, tidying up, the list goes on and when you do get a chance to take a breath you can be forgiven for resenting this continual wheel in motion you are riding on, where the chance to jump off never presents itself - not for a long time anyway.
Part 1 hopefully drives home the change I refer to and I plan in future hubs to get down to brass tacks in terms of the specific areas you find the change most challenging.
I hope my honest and frank approach is helpful and not off-putting. After all many people feel these feelings yet go on to have more children so it is a forgettable time, however when you are stuck in the middle of this time, it is a help for an acknowledgement of the change to be written about so you can feel what you are feeling is normal, not abnormal
One small token is throughout the emergence of this change your love for your child will grow and grow regardless. The relationship between mother and child is so strong however relationships with others are those to be mindful of when this change emerges. More on this next time.
If you enjoyed this hub check out part 2
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