OK, time for some real talk. Yes, being a mum is an amazing experience. The love I have for my son is like nothing I could have ever imagined and my heart sometimes feels like it’s about to explode with joy.
But being a new mum is bloody hard too.
So I thought I’d write down the things I’ve found most difficult – because reading other people struggling with these things really reassured me that I wasn’t alone!
1. Sleep deprivation
I love sleep. I was the type of girl that could easily sleep 10 hours in a row if I turned off my alarm. To go from that to being awake every hour and a half day and night was so difficult. I’ve never known tiredness like it. And when you’re tired, you lose your coping mechanisms so every single thing becomes a massive deal and the tiniest things can seem impossible to cope with.
A few times my mum would phone me to check in and all I could do was cry down the phone because I didn’t think I could cope anymore with how tired I was.
What did help me cope a bit in the end was to stop thinking about days and nights separately (my baby wasn’t so I shouldn’t!). I went to bed at 9pm with the hope of getting an hour or two sleep before the midnight feed. I embraced being awake at 3am by catching up with all the Americans I follow on instagram. I would stay in bed until midday with no guilt, because if my little man was going to be asleep then, so was I! I couldn’t do this every day, but stretching out the time I was led in bed to 12 hours did help me get some rest in the early days. Although I appreciate this won’t be at all helpful or practical to some!
2. Losing adult interactions
This was something I wasn’t prepared for. But it was a massive shock going from a full time job in a chatty team to being at home with a newborn. I felt like I was going mad just from a lack of talking to adults, and I started to feel less like me. Starting Mum + Baby classes really helped with this, and the friends and family that got in contact to meet up were a lifesaver too (my brain was in no fit state to make plans, so I’m very grateful other people made them for me!).
3. Losing my intelligence
Baby brain well and truly got me. I used to consider myself very intelligent, but the other day I was trying to insist to my husband that 7 x 73 = 150. It really doesn’t.
And this was another thing that took me away from feeling most like me.
4. Constantly worrying
My mum did say when I got pregnant that I would never stop worrying for the rest of my life. It’s hard constantly panicking about every little thing, and something that made it hard for me to leave the house without him. It probably added to the lack of sleep as well, as when he’s sleeping I can’t relax as I constantly check on him.
5. People only asking me about my baby
I just needed people to realise I’m still me, having a baby hasn’t taken away all the other parts of me.
6. People not asking me about my baby
I know this is a contradiction to number 5, but I also needed people to acknowledge I was experiencing the biggest change of my life.
7. Hormones all over the place
This was probably the second hardest one for me to deal with after sleep deprivation. It was like my mind and personality wasn’t my own any more. The number of times my husband ran into a room to ask me what was wrong because I was crying again… and I would have no idea. My husband has had to put up with a lot!!
8. The physical stuff
So on top of everything that comes with suddenly having a newborn to look after, my body was in so much pain that I was physically struggling to hold my baby. I had some complications which meant for 2 weeks after he was born I couldn’t sit, stand or walk. Or go from sitting to standing, or from lying down to sitting without someone pulling me up. It just made everything so much harder, and was the cause of much more crying.
Then there’s the fact your body has changed, and you want the old one back but that involves exercise and healthy eating – both of which seem impossible to achieve.
And I’m not even going to start with the horrendous experience that is giving birth here…
But it’s worth it
It’s so worth it. The first time he smiled I forgot I was tired. When he laughed I forgot how much pain I was in. When I hug him I forget that it’s like I’m going mad most of the time.
Being a mum is the hardest job I’ve ever had, but my little man is my world, and I love my new world.