When a woman becomes pregnant, it is just the beginning of an upcoming life full of sacrifice.
Once you become pregnant you are giving up control of your body for the duration of the pregnancy. You, most importantly, grow one or more teeny tiny human beings in your womb, your body adapting to this foreign presence over the course of 3 trimesters. You put on weight, your muscles and skin is stretched, organs squashed, you lose ease of mobility and flexibility. Elbows, knees, heads, hands and feet kick, punch and stick out uncomfortably. Your energy levels can take a drastic dive as all your bodily resources focus on that little precious life developing inside. Hormones fly around hither and dither and your mental strength and stability is tested to the max.
For some you experience incredibly strong cravings. You are likely to suffer through “morning” sickness.. and this is not restricted to the morning or to the first trimester. Heartburn is a common side effect of a growing mass starting to squish your stomach up and you may suffer from GD (Gestational Diabetes), or high or low blood pressure..
You may have the pleasure of experiencing PUPPP/PEP (polymorphic eruption of pregnancy): where your body decides that it is allergic to that little lifeform(s) that’s been growing inside you and you break out into a chronic hives-like rash. This is completely harmless and is more of an unbearable irritation, but it turns out the only cure is giving birth so…
There are a number of other symptoms and complications that can happen to mum during pregnancy, including some very serious and devastating ones which I will not go into here but are never far from your mind while you are pregnant.. Next comes the birth.
Those of you who’ve read my previous blogs would have read my birthing story. It was quite a traumatic experience after everything seemed to be lined up for a straight forward birth. That is just one story, one scenario that has happened.
When you “physically” become a mother, (and by this I mean of course when you give birth to your babe/babes), you surrender your body to a new assortment of physical stress and toil, and may well undergo unforeseen complications throughout the whole process. After months of growing the little life/lives inside you, your body prioritising all energy and good nutrients to your unborn, it is time to get that now rather large miniature human out of your belly. More stretching, more pain, some tearing, some swelling, possibly some slicing, gluing and stitching. It is no easy feat for anyone.
Finally. Congratulations! You’re a mother to a newborn! But what’s this? You’re now overcome with a very real and somewhat irrational fear of anything going wrong for your darling babe! You thought you knew what fear and true worry was before motherhood? HAH, think again! This is a whole new level! You now have a living, breathing, teeny tiny version of you that you must now care for. You must feed your newborn, nurture your newborn, cuddle, change and burp your newborn. You must give them your full attention and ensure no disaster strikes.
But what’s this? Your baby has stopped breathing for a second?! Quickly you turn them onto their side and start firmly hitting their back as they must be choking on something. In fact YES! THERE IT IS THERE GET IT OUT OF THEIR MOUTH! This slimy snotty sort of stuff. Ah that’s right, your newborn still has some mucus in their system soon after birth. Being that they don’t have the ability to cough yet it’s up to you to help them get it out of their system. No one told you how scary it would be thinking your baby is choking, their little heads turn red so quickly! But the midwife reassures you that you did the right thing turning them on their side/front and NOT picking them up where the mucus may have found it’s way flowing back down and blocking the airway.
A sigh of relief, you made it home! But what’s this? Your baby looks a rather clear shade of yellow. Jaundice? You have to return to the hospital for goodness knows how long for treatment?! No one told you that lots of feeding and lots of sunlight would have reduced the levels of jaundice in the first place. You should have left your sleeping bundle of love in the light of the window whenever possible.. but then you were in hospital for 4 days, rehabilitating your body to that walking thing..
It’s a few weeks out, you’re at home but have no sense of normality. Your baby is cluster feeding and you’ve barely had more than a cat nap at a time of sleep. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, oh and feed yourself too! What day even is it? Doesn’t matter, just survive through this phase, it’ll “get better”, everyone says so.
4 months out, you are getting the hang of this.. you think..
You've set up a pretty good routine with your baby(babies) and although you still don't get much time to yourself during the day, night times are getting easier with baby sleeping longer until suddenly: BOOM! Without warning the classic "Leap 4 sleep regression" hits. WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?! All that hard work? And now it's back to square one. BUT WAIT! Now add teething into the mix. Can babies really start teething so early? You bet your sorry behind they can! Every baby develops differently!
Now, let's keep our mind.. but are you sure you're doing enough for babies development? I mean, are you REALLY trying?! Are you reading to them? Speaking to them? Giving them enough tummy time? Taking them swimming? Singing to them? Playing with them? Taking them outside? Teaching them to roll over? Teaching them to crawl? Teaching them to sit? Talking to them enough? You're not ignoring them at any point are you?! Are you entertaining them enough? Did you do any of that big pile of laundry? What about the dishes? Have you hoovered this week? Even had a shower? What about cooking for you? Is the house a tip or can you pull it off as organised chaos?..
So now here I am speaking to you almost 5 months out. It's taken me a good month just to write this blog!
It's hard, truly. Unlike anything I've known up to this point, because this is life now. There's no switching off.. but then no-one actually said it would be easy. But no-one really got it through to you just how hard it would be some times though either.
As good my intentions I've been, I'm only just starting to manage a 30min yoga session once a day during one of my boys naps. I won't lie, it's not every day. There are just too many other things I have to try and fit in during their short naps.. And although I have started gigging with my band again, and will have my first tournament in almost a whole year in a week and a half, looking after my boys is my main focus each day. They still come before everything else. On some days, they come even before my mental health.. but I will say that that is not the norm. Although they are my everything now, I must look after myself first and foremost in order to be able to look after them to my best ability.
So now for the bright side. As much as I've shared rather negative view points on becoming a mother so far in this blog entry, I have of course not yet mentioned the overwhelming reward that motherhood is.
There are pros and cons to anything in life. Consider, if you will, a promotion at work. Pros can include more money, more respect & recognition, more responsibility, more creative control...
Cons can include more workload, more responsibility and therefore more accountability, more pressure leaning on you.
In some ways, motherhood, (or indeed parenthood), is like a promotion in life. You now have one or more little humans that are your responsibility. The increase in workload is significant, in come cases, huge! The pressure is on! Not just for you to now raise a well-to-do young, respectful individual(s), but also on you yourself, to be the best mother/parent you can possibly be.
Yet the pros of motherhood, the rewards for creating and raising a mini you? It's truly priceless.
The first smile as your baby looks deep into your soul... Their powerful giggle that cuts straight threw your emotions and can melt your heart no matter how stressed you have been... Those precious snuggles you get as you slowly drift off with your little one on your chest... Watching your baby developing and becoming more independent as time goes by..
It's not for everyone, it's not easy in the slightest, but it is 100% worth it. Being a mother can really be s***, and I'm still new to this whole change of life. But focus on the little things. Listen to your baby and learn new things alongside them. Allow them to dictate their own development and take pressure off yourself. Don't compare you or you little one(s) to anyone else but take on board the advice and experience that others share with you. Try and go with the flow. Know that there will be some hard days.. some long, and seemingly unending days... and nights for that matter! But you will get through to the other side. No one has got it right the whole way, and like with all things, "failing" at any point is an opportunity to learn, adapt and try something new. It's trial and error all the way.
I could go on and on but I shall leave it there for now, until next time. Thanks for reading x