07 Nov Becoming a Mumma – 3 things you don’t expect after having a baby…….
So many things in life bring about major life change but nothing quite like becoming a mum!
We know there will be pain (so much pain), we know our lives will be forever changed, and we know we will have to give up sleep for a little while (or a long while).
But there are some things you don’t expect to happen and to be quite honest, us women are not very good at talking about it either. I’m going to share three of them with you here so if you are about to have a baby you can arm yourself with some strategies and if you are a friend or relative of someone about to have a baby you can amp up your support for them.
There’s so much to be excited about when planning the new addition to your family.
One of the best moments in a woman’s life is that exact moment when you hold your baby. You’ve talked to him or her for nine months, you’ve wondered what they would look like, who they would be like and how it would feel to meet them. And then it happens……….. and oh boy its more amazing than you could have imagined. The love, the love, the love is beyond description. No one can tell you how amazing that feeling is until you feel it for yourself, and thankfully it never goes away!
As the days after baby arrives though, things settle down and the reality of being a mum and parent sets in.
The following three things that can and most likely will happen to you in this major life transition are:
- Your IDENTITY changes– it doesn’t matter if you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a hairdresser, you are now also a mum and that comes with a whole new job description and set of KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). You are not the same person you were Before Child (BC) and you have a brand new identity to discover, this is who you are and will continue to be forever (After Child).
For some women this is the best thing ever (and rightly so, its amazing). But for other women, including me, it can be a real challenge. Especially when you don’t get to do and be the things that made you who you are, or who you believed you were, anymore.
Our identity is the story of who we believe we are. Then when baby comes along, we have to be so many things we were not before. We were not experts on foods that cause choking (well I speak for most of us). We were not sleep deprived, pyjama wearing sloths who struggled to shower every day. We were ABSOLUTELY not baby whisperers with an innate ability to calm small screaming humans. And yet these are the new things we must become.
For many women, none of this is an issue, but for some its good to be aware that you will change after having a child, you won’t be the same person or be able to live exactly the same life – and if you are aware, you can prepare for these changes in your identity and you can empower yourself with strategies to manage the changes, especially if you find it a little confronting and scary.
My strategy for this is to make sure you have time for self-care. To do that you need to recruit your family, friends and support people. You need to spend time alone reflecting on your new life and how you can incorporate the old you back into your routine – get the friends and family to babysit while you go to the gym or go see a movie with friends – make plans for how you will do those things that make you happy.
2. Isolation – this is a big one. Once the first few weeks of visitors coming to see your new bub dies down and you settle in to your new life with your baby, especially if it is your first baby, things can get lonely. With my first baby I remember being terrified to leave the house in case I had to feed him in public. With my second baby I could barely get out of the house because I couldn’t get him off my chest. Isolation sets in quickly and people go on with their lives with little knowledge of how lonely new mums might be.
If you are lucky enough to find a mother’s group of like-minded women then you need to see them as often as possible – they are your lifeline to sanity. If not, get in touch with your girls, your tribe, your family, your people. You need to let them know you are lonely and anything else that is happening that you need help with.
Its time to connect with other women who have been there before (mummas) or who care about you and you know will help you if you ask. Go for coffee, go for pedicures go for walks together, just make sure you get out of the house and connect with other grown up humans.
(If the isolation is getting too much or you are starting to feel anxious or depressed or just very wobbly then please reach out to your child health nurse, your GP or other services like Parentline 132 289, lifeline 131 114, PANDA.org.au or Beyond Blue beyondblue.org.au)
3. TIME – So even though you are probably off full-time paid work and you think you will have time to do stuff, to get things done, to write that book you always wanted to – think again! OK, maybe you will have a baby that sleeps for hours on end and you will have lots of baby free time. It happens to some people! But even if you do, the days just fly past and you will feel like you have accomplished nothing in a day.
If you have a child who only sleeps on you or in your arms then getting stuff done is even harder and the hours seem to be spent walking, rocking and carrying your baby.
Its hard to explain, because technically you do have a whole lot of extra time, but somehow that time gets taken up with shopping for food and nappies, going to clinic appointments and doctors, so much washing and sterilising and drinking cold cups of coffee or tea.
The cold coffee is seriously a new mum phenomenon that doesn’t necessarily change over time!
Being aware that you won’t have as much time as you think, helps you to set more realistic goals for yourself. I planned to finish my studies and start up a business on my maternity leave with my second child. That turned out to be a little ambitious.
But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set goals, it just means to be aware that time flies, you may not have as much of it as you think you will and setting smaller achievable weekly goals is better for your mental health than planning major projects for after baby arrives.
If you want to know more about major life transitions and change, follow me on Facebook, Instagram and keep an eye out for my upcoming book launching early 2019 called #WarriorWomen – Find your tribe and live your best life.