I know you think you’ve lost “you”
I know that you’ve just been through a 4 day labour. I know you feel traumatised (but you won’t find the language to express that until you become pregnant again and consider labour - and yes, you get your dream age gap - hurray!)
I know you can’t get comfortable because your coccyx is so damaged (though right now you think it’s just pain from the episiotomy). I know you don’t understand why birth went so “wrong”. I know breastfeeding seems impossible at the moment (you both learn, and it’s lovely).
I know you’re worried you’re never going to enjoy this mum business in the way you thought you should. I know you think you’ll never sleep again, or that your heart will always thump unnervingly. I know you don’t know why you feel so full of adrenaline, never able to switch off.
I know you think you’ve lost “you”, and that’s creating an aching melancholy within you.
But, guess what, I’m writing this with hindsight. And I’ve got 10 brilliant bits of news to share with you:
One morning the adrenaline wears off. You are able to look at E and you realise that - yes, the responsibility is terrifying, but it’s also wonderful;
You do sleep, in the end. Actually both of your babies are relatively happy to sleep. More pleasingly though, you realise you’re much more resilient than you initially thought. That you’re able to go about your day fuelled only by coffee, chocolate, three hours sleep and lots and lots of fresh air (because, sorry to tell you this, but they sleep, and then they have a “developmental phase”. And they stop sleeping for a bit. Again, and again, and...)
Even though it hurts your back you love wearing a sling - seeing little E’s head nestled in your sweaty, dribble and milk-combo-filled bosom. You do however realise that you are quite smug about this, as you think it makes you look more “earth-mother.” Yes, you do sound like an arse.
You realise your back is damaged - you go to osteopathy and find out about cranial osteopathy for babies. Thereafter you rave about it to anyone who will listen.
You realise there are parts of being a mum that you now miss - the flexibility, the opportunity to just stay in bed all Sunday morning if you choose, the lack of responsibility, and you sometimes feel really sad about that. That’s fine.
You realise that being a mum now defines in you, in a wonderful way, but it shouldn’t STOP you.
You realise that women are truly remarkable, and that you want to write about them, talk to them about birth, talk to them about their kids, their identity, their jobs, their body image.
You realise that becoming a mum has instilled you a new determination, resilience and grit. You’re less afraid (you’re still afraid sometimes) to try new things, to speak without fear of judgement, to pursue new paths.
You write, and write, and write in your journal about your hopes and dreams for your family life. It excites you, it makes you feel all fluttery, and so you decide to turn those fluttery thoughts into a tangible thing.
When you birthed E, part of you was reborn. I know you’re so worried that you’ll never feel like “you” again, but I’ve got fantastic news: once the pain subsides, once the hormones balance, you realise you’re “you”, but better. You’ve realised that being a Mum means finding your real power. And that’s truly exciting.
P.S. Never forget three, crucial things…
Anything said to James in the night doesn’t count
This too shall pass
It’s just a phase…