Pregnancy and becoming a new mum is not always as we expected. It can also come along when we least expect it. This article is for anyone imagining, planning or adapting to motherhood.
For as long as I can remember, I dreamt of having a baby.
It’s the ‘someday’ dream many of us share for when we’re financially stable, settled and established. The ‘pot of gold’ after our fun and freedom.
And as I approached my thirties, my thoughts turned towards starting a family. But when an Australian adventure unexpectedly arrived, any ideas for a baby were pushed aside.
So it came as something as a surprise when, after a recent relocation to Melbourne, I fell pregnant with our daughter. With my partner still temporarily in Perth, and family and friends on the other side of the world, it couldn’t have been further from my imagined journey into motherhood.
Nevertheless, I was over the moon. After all, my biggest dream was about to come true!
The next few months were a hectic scramble of my partner moving over, finding somewhere to live and preparing for our ‘bub’. And after a long nine months, and a difficult, drawn out birth, I was lucky enough to experience that intense rush of love. I was besotted.
But that was just the beginning. And there were some things I definitely wasn’t expecting:
Post childbirth body
Seeing my body immediately after childbirth was a shock. I was unprepared, and I panicked. So, when well enough, I went on a diet and exercise rampage. And while I lost the weight, the rest took a lot longer to bounce back. Rather it slithered its way, arriving long beyond my daughters first birthday. But, despite some lasting legacies, I made peace with my body perhaps more than before. Because making a little person, makes you a little different. It’s incredible. And that makes your body incredible too.
Feeling the loss of your old life
When you welcome a new child, you bid farewell to your old life. And while a new one has just begun, in the beginning, exhausted and with no time to myself, I sometimes wondered what I had done. But as you watch your child’s character appear, the appeal of your old life disappears. Everyday becomes a little adventure filled with love, laughter, and surprises. And you’ll wonder how you ever lived life without it.
Life becomes fragile
From your first steps outside to their first steps into the world, life becomes a danger zone with you permanently on high alert. For a while, I worried how I was going to live with the worry! But it becomes second nature to assess safety risks in every environment you enter. And while terrifying at times it’s enlightening too. Because, when life feels fragile, you start to hold dear every moment we are here.
You’ll relive your childhood
Being responsible for a childhood can bring up memories of your own. You’ll consider how you want them to experience theirs, and relive how you experienced yours. For the bad, it’s an opportunity to confront ignored emotions, and for the good, replicate treasured, often filed away, childhood notions. You’ll also understand you are the centre of your parents’ world, which is hard to comprehend until a little person is at the centre of yours.
Motherhood brings out the beauty and the beast. Able to warm the coldest heart, and aggravate the calmest mind, one minute you are crying tears of adoration, and seconds later, tears of frustration. Yet conversely you’ll also feel the calmest you’ve ever felt. Because you see what really matters. And with your life occupied by a child, time and energy become precious commodities you’ll spend wisely.
You’ll question your identity
When you stop doing all the things you used to do, you may wonder what it was you believed to be you. Your prior version of ‘me’ can be subconsciously wrapped up in your career, social life, looks or hobbies. And while some become defined by ‘mum’, I questioned why I defined myself at all. Because if you can change so drastically, what else can you be?
So, having a child is much harder, and yet far more fulfilling than you can imagine.
It also comes with some surprises.
Because while the dream that you had does come true, it’s not all blue skies and sunshine, but a splattering mess of colour, grey clouds, thunder and lightening too.
And somewhere in the middle of the rainbow, you’ll also find you.
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