Here we are at the magical 12 week point. Three months, one third of the bun baked and approximately 200 odd days to go until we hop aboard the roller coaster of bottles, nappies, sleepless nights and stress once again. I feel much more prepared this time mostly because I am under no delusions of how ” easy it will be” or how ” it won’t really change our lives that much” ha!
In the true fashion of ignorance indeed being bliss, I set myself up to fail with my first pregnancy with my laughable optimism. My husband and I threw lots of hilarious statements around our friends and families about how we were going to handle being new parents just fine. I was certain that my adorable little infant was going to sit peacefully in a rocker at my feet, looking up at me adoringly as I worked for hours on end without distraction.
My friends who were without children agreed whole heartedly with my delusions as it made them feel confident about their futures once they decided to get on the having a baby merry go round. My family and friends with children smiled indulgently and nodded their heads whilst mentally preparing some popcorn and a comfy chair so they could settle in and enjoy the circus once the baby arrived. They knew. And they didn’t tell me! Months later, sleep deprived and looking bedraggled, they would ask me ” how are you finding motherhood?” With that sly little half smile. It was then that I realised I had been punked.
The reality was harsh and stark to my happy little delusions. And it hit me immediately. There was no grace period. No cooling off period for me to ease my way into motherhood. One minute I was pregnant and confident about how things would be and the next I was a mother with no clue what the next five minutes would hold let alone further into the future.
I feel asleep in Kansas and woke up in Oz. Except in the movie, when Dorothy is in the tornado and there are farm animals flying around her, I had bottles, nappies and strangely possessed babies who never slept and vomited a lot flying around me. There was no yellow brick road, only the well worn path that we walked up and down the hallway in a desperate bid to get our daughter to sleep.
My life became a whirl wind of sterilising, bottle preparation. No I did not breast feed. It was and remains my choice and if it offends you are welcome to be offended elsewhere but I digress. Nappies and washing load after load of a million tiny articles of clothing became priority. Sleep was a mythical creature with only unconfirmed sightings by unreliable sources. Someone, somewhere was getting it, it sure as hell wasn’t me.
My daughter never sat in the rocker I bought for the purposes of being stared with adoration while I worked. She hated it. Needless to say, there was not a lot of work going on. Or cooking, or exercising, or socialising or romancing or any of those things I was so sure would be unaffected by the arrival of the tiny bundle of joy.
It was a shock to the senses. One that I struggled with immensely. I know a lot of first time mothers feel the same. Like we got duped. Like why the hell didn’t anyone warn us or try to talk some sense into us back when we maintained that we would be back at the gym five hours after birth because that’s how great we were going to be at this whole parenthood thing. Many many mothers feel this way but don’t say it out loud. The fear is that if we verbalise how much we are struggling or how this wasn’t at all what we expected then we will be perceived as weak or unfit to be mothers. So the vast majority keep it bottled up and soldier on. Some with the aid of anti depressants.
The truth is that it is not really a big conspiracy. It is not that our friends and family want to see us fail. It is just that if they did try to set us straight, we would most likely ignore them. The same way that parents look at a slightly older child misbehaving will tell themselves that their precious child would never behave that way, we tell ourselves that we will be different. Somehow we have this magical parenting skill that our friends and family before us lacked. Wrong , wrong, wrong. Your child will behave badly one day, they will embarrass you at some point. You absolutely will have moments in your new foray into parenthood where you will struggle, feel inadequate, unsure of yourself and like a failure.
You are not a failure, you are a normal, functioning human being albeit with hormone levels still out of whack but normal all the same. So when you get asked the inevitable question of how you are finding motherhood, don’t feel like you have to front. Answer honestly. Motherhood is complex at first, terrifying, exhausting. It can be a struggle, confusing, contradicting and thankless. The hours are long and the pay is terrible. You will never be offered a promotion, a company car or an all expenses paid business trip to Vegas.
But it is also rewarding, in the end it is always that. The first three months are going to feel like the longest of your life while you are living it and once your baby is older, you will feel like you blinked and you missed it. Just another one of these motherhood contradictions at play. Just remember that you are entitled to feel how you feel and it is nothing to be ashamed of. We all start off clueless and you just have to listen to your gut instinct and do the best you can.
Even though it seems impossible at the beginning, your confidence will grow as your baby does and things you once found such a struggle will seem so easy you can do them in your sleep. Ahhh, sleep. That magical word. You will get it back. Some sooner than others but you will sleep again I promise. You will learn things about yourself, your partner and your baby that will surprise you. You will find an inner strength that you never knew was there. Along with the strength you will find endurance and instinct. You will learn to communicate with your baby in ways that transcend words.
Beyond all of those things and the countless other ways that being s mother enriches your life, you will discover a capacity for love like nothing you have ever felt before and the powerful and fierce protectiveness that only a mother can have for her child.
The bad is short lived, the positives outweigh them in the end. Hang in there momma, things are gonna get better. Oh, but I’m sorry to say, they pay is always gonna be shit!