As if having a baby wasn't enough change, everything else is different too.
It's been five and a half months since this little guy joined the Barber clan and so much of my life has changed along with his arrival. It's got me feeling unsettled over the last few weeks so I thought putting it all down in my blog would help.
I've never really been much good with change. I'm a creature of habit and I like to know my routine, where I stand and how to deal with things. So lately with so much change happening for me, it's a little bit mind boggling!
I can't work out if this has changed since having Freddie or if it's changed over lockdown. Lots of people understandably went into hibernation during the pandemic and I feel like some are still yet to emerge to pre-pandemic levels. And that's ok, it's just different.
I'm not the sort of friend any more that can drop everything for a party, I'm not as available as I used to be. My priorities have changed massively. To leave the house is not only a huge feat (although easier than it used to be) but there are big considerations around feeding times, nappy bags, nap times and all the stuff that goes with it. So sometimes it's easier to say no to socialising than it is to get going. I feel like some of my friendships have suffered because of this, mostly with those who don't have children. Life goes on for everyone else and they do the same things they've always done, whereas for me, I've become all about Fred with a rare night off or two.
I've also made new mummy friends, from NCT and an app called Peanut (which is highly recommend). They've become a huge support network for me when things develop with the baby. We share symptoms, tips, have a guilt free moan and arrange meet ups to pass the time during maternity leave and they have a genuine understanding of what it takes to leave the house and there's zero judgement if one of the babies is having a meltdown!
An opportunity arose recently for promotion but I feel like I was out of the loop. Being on maternity leave can sometimes feel like out of sight, out of mind. To my employer it might not be a factor, but to me, it feels as though my "time off" and my impending return to work with a baby in tow would count against me.
It's been a little while since I used my brain for anything other than growing, birthing and taking care of a tiny human so I think it's natural to feel insecure about the future of my career. I feel like there is so much uncertainty about what the future looks like when I go back to work.
I've caught up with friends from work and it always feels like so much has changed, from a rebrand to new trials, new people and in a post pandemic world, it's hard to keep up.
On occasions, it can feel like I see my family less than normal. But actually, I'm probably seeing them about the same amount, it's just that I don't really feel like I'm catching up with them because everyone is obsessed with Freddie. This is obviously most welcome! And I wouldn't have it any other way! But there isn't a great deal of time that I spend with them specifically. Their priorities have changed too!
I also lost my Grandad at the end of April. Someone I admired immensely, looked up and was close to. He was also the hierarch of the family, so we've all felt a shift since he left us.
I've also recently rebuilt a relationship with my Dad after some time. It's been great reconnecting and getting to know him again, though on occasions it does mean the past is being referred to a lot, which isn't always helpful.
I'm a Mum
It still feels so weird to say that or write it down. When I think of a mother, I think of someone mumsy in my mind's eye. But that's not me! I turned 35 recently and it felt like a big milestone with a baby too. Like obviously the closest to 40 that I've ever been but even closer than I had realised!
I absolutely love being a mum. It's something I was unsure would ever happen for us so I feel like it comes with extra responsibility to prove that I can do a good job of it. I always want to be here for Freddie. When I see his little face light up when Tom or I walk into the room, it makes me melt. It's only been 5 months but I can't imagine my life without him now.
It's the hardest, most rewarding and most important role of my life and although I feel the weight of that sometimes, I do like to challenge myself!
My body is different too. There's some extra squidge in extra places and certain outfits just don't look good on me any more. Exercise has become a part of my daily life whereas before the baby, I could just eat right for a month and maintain a body I was happy with. It's a good thing Freddie is a million miles an hour, he's sure to keep me on my toes. In pregnancy it's easy to get carried away and eat what you like, which is amazing, but post natally it feels harder to shift! Plus, my bloody knees! I've been seeing a physio as thanks to my bump my centre of gravity has completely changed. I over compensate when I lean forward and my knees get tired. I'm working on building the strength back in them.
Our family unit
It can be easy to forget who you are as a couple when you introduce a third wheel. You both become slightly obsessed with the new addition, focus on who you are as a parent and some days just feel like survival.
We love our new family unit but we've recognised we have had to find time for each other even more than we used to. Gone are the days where we could drop everything and head to the pub for dinner or make an impulsive purchase as a treat. Pre-pandemic we might have been booking our second city break of the year! Now it's about time, patience, a home cooked meal, a baby sitter and cherishing those Netflix binges before the baby wakes up again!
End of a Welsh era
When I moved to Bristol in 2016, I owned my own property in Wales that I bought in 2012. I kept it when I moved in with Tom and rented it out. It was my piece of independence, my insurance, just in case!
Five years on, my tenant moved out and I decided it was time to sell. My first home that I loved so much and saved so hard for. A first time buyer snapped it up and I loved that so much. It's exactly how I started off with it. The perfect starter home with amazing neighbours.
Now it's gone, it feels strange. Almost like I've sold a piece of my independence if that doesn't sound too dramatic. It's been a few years of self assessments and home repairs but it was worth it. It feels like I'm moving to the next phase of my life.
I hope that didn't all sound super negative. Change can be really good and it shows progression, growth. It just takes a little minute for the mind to catch up sometimes, doesn't it?