I was chatting with a colleague today (another new-ish mum) over email about squishy newborn babies and their Inherent deliciousness.
Talk turned to when the next bundle might appear on the horizon and it got me thinking.
I’ve always thought that I’d quite like a couple of years between my kidlets. This used to be a fairly abstract idea borne of a fear of having to change two lots of nappies and the associated horrors but when I started thinking about it in a little more depth today, I realised there was a slightly less superficial reason behind my thinking…
I have found motherhood really hard.
There are plenty of adages that float around when it comes to pregnancy, birth and all the stuff that comes next. Good pregnancy/bad labour. Bad labour/good baby. Good baby/bad toddler. The general idea seems to be that things even themselves out, somewhere along the line
In my case, in my case, I scored a pretty smooth ride. Great pregnancy, great birth.. Motherhood journey a bit of a challenge.
I prepared like a lunatic for my birth and to a lesser extent, inadvertently prepared for my pregnancy as I was a bit of a health demon in the lead up to my wedding and I managed to fall pregnant almost straight after.
There doesn’t seem to be as much focus on what comes after you’ve pushed the baby out. There’s classes on bathing and feeding. You can be shown how to put on a nappy and swaddle securely but when it comes to the enormous, surreal change to your life that’s just occurred, well you’re kind of on your own with that.
It’s unchartered territory, largely because no-one else can tell you what it will really be like. There is no one experience, no template to educate or compare against. It’s a bit of a ‘jump in and try and keep your head above the surface’ experience.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s an exhilarating ride. And one that’s utterly unique to your own wild ride. It’s also the most beautiful thing you can share with those you love the most.
For me however, the ride took it out of me. I don’t think the particular log flume I was on was any steeper or scarier than anyone else’s, it was just the way I navigated the twists and turns.
I flew a little too close to the edge at times, and though I realised that I was teetering precariously, didn’t actually do anything to regain my grip on the security bar.
Suffering from anxiety as I do meant that that edge was a very thin lip. On one side sat your standard new mother fears and on the other, the irrational things that find their way into a vulnerable mind.
I dwelled on that other side for awhile. I have no doubt that my experience was nowhere near as painful as others who’ve experienced the depths of PND and the like, but it was still real and still a darker shade of life than I’d like for myself and my family.
And so when I contemplate the future, the past 9 months runs through my mind. I’ve climbed back onto that lip and dragged myself over the edge, back to the lighter side of life but its been hard work. And now that I’m almost there, I kind of want to enjoy it for awhile.
While I’ve been deeply in love with my son since the moment he was placed on my chest, I think falling in love with him has been a slow burn. It didn’t happen automatically for me. I loved him but we needed to get to know each other a bit first.
It occurred to me the other night, while I was brushing my teeth, how utterly and completely in love with the kid I was. Perhaps it’s cos I’m back at work and removed from daily life for two days a week. I’m not sure. But looking in the mirror I actually said to myself; ‘so this is what it’s like!’ This is that love. It’s butterflies in my tummy and a joy that I can only describe as being rooted somewhere so deep inside that I couldn’t even identify it if I tried.
There is still work to do. There are moments when i dip back across the lip and into a different frame of mind. When fear, uncertainty and stomach churning anxiety seep back in. But those moments are becoming that bit easier to navigate now. They are still here but I am slowly finding peace in them.
I have found motherhood really hard. There have been battles. And I won’t yet be going back for seconds,
not until I’ve stayed on the right side of that lip for awhile and frolicked in the sensation of pure love for a little longer.
I have found motherhood hard but nothin worth doing is ever easy.