This blog is my most personal yet, it’s a short open letter to my son followed by my top tips on surviving your first year of motherhood. I wish i could say I had tips for surviving life with a toddler but I’m not a miracle worker….please send all toddler tips my way.
July 4th 2016, the date of your birth and the date of my very own independence day. The hard moments which led up to your traumatic birth made me wonder if you would ever make it into my arms. I can’t believe I ever had the audacity to doubt you wouldn’t make it through, you were as strong willed the day you were born as you are now. I didn’t take to motherhood like a duck to water, although I’m sure my friends and family would say otherwise. Although I was always made to be your mother, your protector, your world I struggled with motherhood and all that came with it. The crippling loneliness, the self doubt, the constant uncertainty. I have no idea the amount of times I used google a day…’does my baby have reflux?’, ‘how can I cure a constipated baby?’, ‘why won’t my baby sleep?’ the list was endless.
Then slowly but surely we became a team, I started to know exactly what you needed (most of the time) and somehow you and i would stumble through the days together. They say the loneliest group of people in Britain just now are new mothers and I totally get that, the loneliness for me was the hardest part of being a new mum. Every day when your dad left for work it would just be us again and soon everyday felt the same, how many times can a sleep deprived parent sing wind the bobbin up without cracking?
But guess what darling, we done it, we’re still doing it. I swear I blinked and now you’re almost 2. The joy you’ve brought me and the things you’ve made me learn about myself I can’t put into words. I try and stop as much as I can and take it all in but life is moving too quickly, we’re on a rollercoaster which won’t slow down. I’m scared I’ll blink and one day a man will stand in front of me instead of the toddler who stands before me now. You will always be my greatest achievement MJ x
1) Don’t let lonliness win… pre baby, was my idea of fun sitting round in a circle singing old macdonald?, no absolutely not but post baby I dragged myself to any baby class I could. Yes everyone agrees that dancing around in a circle while singing in front of a bunch of strangers and newborns is a bit cringe but guess what it gets you out of the house and socialising. I spent a lot of my maternity leave attending these classes and I couldn’t recommend them enough, interacting with other sleep deprived mums while baby has fun…it’s a no brainer really. Also the app ‘Mush’ is great for connecting with parents in your area, think of it as a tinder for mums if you will.
2) Don’t compare yourself to other mums… When you’re tired, you haven’t had a warm coffee in weeks, you’re not sure what the outside world even looks like anymore it’s easy to compare your situation to sandra’s down the street who’s baby is all singing all dancing and sleeps 14 hours a night. My advice is to step away from your phone, iPad anything at all that shows you the hearts and rainbows side of motherhood you might not be experiencing. We all show our best bits on social media, it’s a snippet of real life of course we want to show our newborn bundles of joy in the best light to the world but behind closed doors I can assure you sandra is struggling just as much as you.
3) Ask for help… With MJ I had an emergency section I was basically rendered useless for the first week of his life, I couldn’t be too proud to ask for help. I know the natural instinct for a mum is to do it all yourself, but you can’t do it all on your own. If I felt like I was struggling I would ask for help whether it be from my partner so I could take a step back for a breather or call on a family member so I could get my hair done, or have some simple alone time. The more you try and do everything on your own the more you’ll lose yourself. I’m a firm believer of ‘happy mum = happy baby’.
4) Enjoy the journey… As cliched as it sounds my number 1 piece of advice for new mums is just enjoy every moment. I know that’s easier said than done when it’s 2am you’ve been awake all night and your baby is winning the battle but before you know it those nights will be long gone. As crazy as it sounds sometimes I long to go back to those days, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. I’d do every sleepless night, every night feed, every 4 am wake up call just to relive those moments. Someone asked me a question recently about being a new mum and I had to think long and hard about the answer, so scary to think there’s already things I’ve forgotten about those early days. I still have days when motherhood literally knocks me for six and takes my breath away but it’s undoubtedly worth it.