Being a Mum.
It’s a really weird yet totally natural thing. If you are blessed enough to be able to conceive, carry a baby to term and then give birth to a live, healthy baby and you are relatively unscathed, then BAM. You’re a mother.
Two teeny weeny cells met each other in your Fallopian tubes, or in a Petri dish (ivf mummas, please forgive my ignorance if I’ve got it wrong). That in itself is a miracle.
Then those two cells multiply and multiply bs multiply creating a heart and a brain and bones and skin and fingernails. All the while you’re just getting on with your day, doing your thing.
Nine to ten months later you are feeling so full and bloated and round and more than ready to get this little human out.
And then you start thinking “oh holy shit. I actually have to get this out! It’s massive!! My vagina is nowhere near that big. How the hell will it fit out??”
The first contraction starts. (If you’re not having a planned Caesar!).
At first it’s exciting. You’re thinking “I’m going to meet my baby! This whole pregnancy ordeal will be over in a matter of hours.”
Then the second contraction hits. And the third. And fourth. By the time the 426th contraction squeezes the life out of you (literally!), you think there’s no way a human woman can survive this level of pain.
Drugs are awesome. When they work! Successful epidurals are the most amazing invention of the 21st century. I’d love to know how many anaesthetists have had marriage proposals in the birthing suite!
Then comes the pushing part. Or the cutting part in theatre. Or forceps part. Each birth is different to the next. (I’ve had one emergency Caesarian, one vacuum delivery and two vaginal deliveries!).
And that little baby is handed to you. Even though it’s been inside you, it’s strange how warm it is. And slippery. And beyond amazing.
Their breath on your cheek takes your own breath away.
It’s a brand new person. Never walked upon this earth yet. Not felt the sun on their face yet.
And your whole world is suddenly lying in your arms.
You may not feel an immediate bond. This is so normal. You’ve never met this person before. It takes time to get to know someone.
It’s an overwhelming experience. Suddenly you are responsible for someone else’s life. You are responsible for keeping them alive.
It’s not about you alone anymore.
Then starts the beginning of a lifetime of struggles and triumphs.
First and foremost is feeding and sleeping.
Breastfeeding. Love it, loathe it, endure it. There’s no perfect answer. It’s hard. My own mother told me for something that’s supposed to be so natural, it’s not.
I tried to breastfeed four times. It wasn’t for me. I now know that a fed baby is a happy baby. I wish I could have told my new mother self this.
Bottle feeding. Formula or breastmilk.
Expressing and breastfeeding.
Expressing and bottle feeding.
It doesn’t really matter. You should not be judged for the way you feed you baby. Because it’s YOUR baby. No one else has the right to tell you what to do.
Now for sleep. Bassinet, cot, co-sleeping. In those first few months all you want is sleep.
Some nights, when you are up for the 8th time (and it’s only midnight), you can feel beyond alone. Those nights are long. Very long. And you feel like you’ll be here forever.
Some babies sleep all night long from two months old. Some wake all night until 12 months. It’s just one of those things.
Mine didn’t sleep all night until close to 9-10 months. I would often resort to giving a bottle in the middle of the night to shut them up so I could get some sleep.
Some may judge this, but who the fuck cares. I did what I had to in the situation to give myself the most sleep. Because in the morning I had to look after not only a newborn baby, but a toddler and two older children. And do the school run. And the grocery shopping. And catch up with my friends. (More on this in a sec).
So my philosophy on sleep and children is ‘do what works’. If reading the parenting books are making you feel like you’re doing it wrong, throw the book away. Your baby hasn’t read the book!!
Ok. Now possibly the most important part of motherhood. And this is the sisterhood.
We don’t live in a village anymore. We are shut up in our houses or apartments and alone. There are no communal meeting places like there would be in a village.
Raising children can be one of the most lovely and lonely times of a woman’s life. She’s gone from working in an environment with other people, socialising whenever she wanted, to pacing the lounge room at 1:34am trying to get the baby to shut the fuck up!!
Reach out to your friends and family with new babies. Whether it’s the first or fourth. Reach out. Arrange to meet up away from the house for a cuppa or a walk in the sunshine.
Hanging out with people who understand what you’re going through is invaluable. They just get it.
From understanding that the words ‘sleep deprivation’ can illicit a physical response of dread, to taking about how your heart can actually hurt from the love you have for your child. And the overwhelming protective feeling you have for them.
Motherhood changes you. I don’t care what you say. It changes you.
Going through the birth process is intense.
Putting another persons needs ahead of your own, all the time, can take some getting used to for some.
Our brains change once we have kids. It’s scientifically proven.
To those with new bubs, those with older kids, those still cooking their babies, those who lost their babies well before their time, I’m giving you a hug. A huge mum to mum hug.
Here’s to being a Mum.