A whole 12 months!
We might have made it here kicking and screaming but we did it with love and our best intentions!
I don't write very often any more but one whole year of being a mummy is an amazing milestone (yes go me!) So I wanted to document it and share some of the things I've learnt. In my own honest way...
1.It's really hard
You probably see it quite a lot from new parents, they moan about the lack of sleep and change of lifestyle and your sympathy probably wears thin after a while. "You brought it on yourself!" And all that. But it really is hard. For so many complex reasons that I'll probably touch on as you read more. Everything changes and it marks a new chapter in your life once and for all.
2. I have felt lonely
When it comes to loneliness, the early days probably weren't so bad. You have lots of visitors who want to meet the baby and you're still so caught up in figuring everything out anyway. Time passes and before you know it you're halfway through maternity leave whilst everyone else is at work or busy getting on with their lives so I found myself with the added pressure of getting out and making some new friends who I could hang out during my leave. Add on the fact that most days you don't actually want to make an effort and leave the house anyway and it's a recipe for solitude.
3. I had days I felt like super mum
I guess you can liken this to a good day at work. Everything feels like it's going right and you feel accomplished! It might have been simple like he slept a lot so I could empty the dishwasher or read a book. Or it might have been he was crying and I figured out what he needed without too much faff. Or I successfully completed a food shop with him in tow and nothing went wrong. It was the small wins that always made me feel like I was doing well.
4. You should definitely eat the cake
It's really easy to put pressure on yourself after having a baby to exercise or look good when you're out and about and yeah, I guess there are elements of it that are important... BUT, if you're going to meet a friend for a coffee and you're taking the babies. BUY AND EAT THE CAKE! You need it, you deserve it and you can worry about burning it off later. Maternity leave isn't a holiday, it's a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job. If someone was hiring for the role, you'd laugh in their face about the poor work life balance. So EAT THE FUCKING CAKE!
6. Mum guilt is real
I'm tired of carrying around the guilt of being an IVF mother. There's a common misconception that because we've been through IVF to have our son that we should be extremely grateful for him, more so than those who can conceive naturally because we are in an enviable position to many. But isn't that the case for most situations? And don't get me wrong, there is not a day that goes by, even the hard days, that I don't thank our lucky stars or the amazing scientists who helped us conceive our son. I will ALWAYS be grateful. But I'm still allowed to lose my shit on the hard days like every other mum. I'm allowed to go through the motions of feeling resentful and guilty and bursting with love and tired and sad and full of happiness all at the same time.
7. Your relationships will change
As time passes I find I lose touch with some friends, make new ones, reignite old friendships and appreciate long standing ones. That's without throwing a baby into the mix. Becoming a mum is transformative in many ways and you need a strong network of friends around you that you can trust or confide in. It's been important to me to be able to talk when it's been hard or I've struggled and I've been lucky. Hormones play a massive part in the early months and it's important to be able to let those little fuckers out in the comfort of those who will allow you to.
8. Your priorities will change (sometimes against your will)
Do I want to go to an all day festival and get wasted in a field with friends? Yes! And I might be able to get baby sitter to allow me to do that. But it's not my priority. My son will always be my number one concern because I want him to be and yes I enjoy my time away from him when I have it, a chance to have some me time at the hairdresser or the walk back from nursery drop off and of course the luxury of a night out. But these things are no longer my priority where they were before he was born. That can be difficult to navigate when you're used to living your life in a certain way, suddenly there's a tiny dictator in charge and he means business imposing rules on everything you do!
9. Milestones don't happen when the books say they will
You might go to a baby class and a baby 3 months younger than yours will be crawling already. Or your baby has a full mouth of teeth and nobody else does. That baby said his first word last week and yours still just cries to communicate. Google says they should be sitting up unaided by now?! Oh, does your baby still need a dummy to go to sleep? Blah blah blah. None of it matters. Your baby will reach their milestone when they're good and ready, no amount of coaxing or wishing will make them do things faster or slow down time so just let them be. Each milestone will still be special whenever it happens.
10. Breastfeeding isn't all it's cracked up to be
I guess this point is just about knowing your body and trusting your instincts. Every mum is different. If you're a mum reading this then you might love breastfeeding and honestly, more power to you! There were moments I loved it and moments it made me completely miserable. Looking back, I'm proud I made it to 3 months, but if I had my time again I'd certainly want to tell myself to be more confident in my decisions. I wish I had been supported by health professionals to make my own choices and not what the textbooks tell you is the right thing to do. And the theme continued beyond breast feeding. You will know deep down what you want to do with your baby be it breast feeding, co sleeping, early weaning, whatever. If you and baby are healthy and happy there is no harm in any of it.
Finally, I want to finish by saying how much I love him! Everyday he will make me smile or laugh, some days less than others but it's there. I might be biased but he is one of the happiest babies I've come across and I'm going to take just a little bit of credit for that.
I'd love to hear what you thought of your first year as a parent. Or if you're a new parent, hi! And I know everyone is telling you it gets easier and you want to strangle them for saying it, but it's true.
Thanks for reading!