Having my first baby was a bit of a shock. Labour was long and difficult and the reality of caring for a newborn after such a gruelling time certainly wasn’t quite how I’d imagined.
I thought I would spend my days baking fresh bread, cooking delicious meals and cuddling a happy cooing baby in a spotlessly clean and tidy house. It took about six weeks for me to realise that my life was no longer my own. Breastfeeding is the ultimate act of selflessness. Of course you want to do it because it’s the best thing for your baby but accepting that you can’t wear what you want, go where you like or do what you want when you want can be quite tricky to deal with. Never mind the initial pain and discomfort. Trying to bake a cake for your soon to be two yr old when your newborn wants to be constantly attached to your boob for hours can be a bit challenging. Once out the other side I realised that like all things baby related, it’s a phase that is relatively short lived but in the midst of it all when missing out on weddings, parties, meals, hot drinks etc it can feel a bit frustrating.
Of course I adored my baby and every cuddle is precious. It was all just soo different from our quiet, relaxed lifestyle before baby. No more lazy Sundays with long lie ins, cooked breakfasts (more like lunches), pouring over the weekend papers with steaming mugs of coffee and boozy sunday roasts. No more going to the toilet on my own and in peace.
By the time my little bundle was around 12 weeks old I felt like I had this motherhood lark sussed. My daughter slept well, fed well and was happy to have a cuddle with anyone accept bearded men. Fair enough. Life got easier and easier and I started to do a lot of the things I had done before: go out for dinner, hang out with friends, work out, watch tv, work.
Then when my daughter was 13 months i fell pregnant again. By seven weeks pregnant i was feeling sick and shattered but with a job that was a 3hr commute away from from home and a lively toddler to look after there was little time for relaxation. The exhaustion pretty much went on from there.
The first six months of my second child’s life is a total blur. Labour was quick and easy this time but the months that followed turned out to be the hardest time of my life. My husband was out at work from 6am-7pm and often stayed away too. My mother and sister both work and don’t drive and my in-laws live on the south coast so it was pretty much just me and the two little ones all day every day. My littlest one wasn’t a fan of sleep and so only really napped for 25mins at a time and was awake to feed multiple times throughout the night. My two yr old slept well but was up and ready for action a 7am each morning and would then be full on all day until she went to bed a 7pm.
Second time around it has taken much longer to feel like i’m back to my old self and some days were pretty challenging as you can read more about here . It was more like two and a half years rather than three months this time. Looking after small children is stressful and tiring and if you add sleep deprivation and all the usual worries and stresses of motherhood it can really have an affect upon who you are. Instead of being, thoughtful, cheerful, and capable of reasonably intelligent conversation I know that I was irritable, forgetful, distracted and easily upset.
Its only now that I’ve come out of the other side of this fog that I can see I was there. I’ve lost a friend or two along the way. One who I thought was a really good friend. Hard times certainly show you who your friends are. I’ve changed jobs and the way I think about lots of things and people has changed – for the better I think. I’m a kinder, softer more sensitive version of my former self but ultimately I’m still the same old me just with quite alot more responsibility. I still have the same interests and sense of humour and I still like to dance, drink good wine and eat great food.
I’ve learned to be kinder to myself, i don’t have to cook a perfect home cooked meal from scratch every night. It’s not the end of the world if i haven’t changed the flowers in the hanging baskets. The hoovering can wait until tomorrow. Let the weeds and the cobwebs grow for a while. They’re not hurting anyone.
So, much like most things when children are around. The ‘new baby fog’ is another phase to get through but there is a light at the end of the sleepless tunnel. Just sometimes it takes longer than others. I’ve learned my lesson and wouldn’t have such a close age gap between children again. But it hasn’t put me off having any more…….